Calleen Art Award 2018


5 May to 17 June 2018

The Calleen Art Award was established as an acquisitive art prize in 1977 by local arts patron Mrs Patricia Fagan, OAM, and each year the Gallery acquires the winning work for the Calleen Collection. The Calleen Art Award is a significant art prize for painting in regional New South Wales and a favourite exhibition event within the Cowra community. The winning painting for the 2018 Calleen Art Award was Sowing the Crops and Reading the Stars (pictured) by Cairns-based artist Brian Robinson.

Exhibition Opening

The opening and announcement of the winning work for the 2018 Calleen Art Award took place at Cowra Regional Art Gallery on Saturday, 10 May 2018 with a large crowd in attendance, including many of the finalists. The Calleen Art Award is an acquisitive national painting prize established in 1977 by Mrs Patricia Fagan OAM. During the last 41 years the Calleen Art Award, with the support of the Calleen Trust, has developed into a significant art prize worth $20,000 in 2018. The winning work will join the Calleen Collection at the Gallery.

The 2018 exhibition features a diverse range of works by 46 finalists, including mid-career and exciting young and emerging artists. The finalists were selected by a panel of art professionals from over 200 entries received from around Australia.

Guest speakers at the opening were Cr Ray Walsh, representing Cr Bill West, Mayor, Cowra Shire Council and the Award Judge Dr Michael Hedger, Director, Manly Regional Art Gallery and Museum and Mrs Jenni Fagan, Calleen Trustee.

There is also a People’s Choice Award of $500, made possible by the Friends of the Gallery and will be announced at the end of the exhibition.

During the evening, guests were treated to the presentation of delightful music by young musicians from the Sydney Conservatorium of Music. The awards opening night is a memorable local event for visitors and an enjoyable visual arts experience.

Cairns-based artist Brian Robinson has taken out this year’s $20,000 Calleen Art Award for his work Sowing the Crops and Reading the Stars. The work is characteristic of Robinson’s graphic style and strongly informed by his background growing up on the Torres Strait Islands located between New Guinea and the tip of Cape York Peninsula.

In a statement accompanying the work, Robinson states that the painting references the traditional gardening practices that occurred throughout the Torres Strait as well as the abundant plant life and blooms that are found growing everywhere in profusion. Skill in gardening was and still is dependent on understanding the four seasons including knowledge of the movement of stars and constellations, tidal patterns and the migration of birds and certain sea creatures.

Agricultural fertility also entails a respect for inherited ancestral land and knowledge of how to influence rainfall and the growth of plants through actions, words, songs and the use of figures and stones. Cosmology, particularly star constellations, were of significant importance to the people who used them to encode nature’s relative predictability into mythological narratives like Usiam, a cluster of seven stars that are more commonly known as Pleiades or the Seven Sisters. These narratives epitomise the cosmology or sense of understanding of one’s place in the universe.

Exhibition Catalogue

Calleen Art Award 2018 catalogue | Download PDF(PDF, 3MB)


Judges Comments

Winner – Calleen Art Award
Brian Robinson Sowing the Crops and Reading the Stars, 2018
enamel spray paint, liquitex paint marker – 152 x 122 cm

The Award Judge, Michael Hedger, Director Manly Art Gallery and Museum, said “the winner is an interesting picture with a wonderful patterning background and figure over the top as well as a blend of various Asian styles, showing the rendition of ancient crafts.”

Highly Commended Awards

Previous winners include Zai Kuang (2017), Tania Mason (2016), Yvonne Boag (2015), Naomi White (2014), Gladdy Kemarre (2013), G.W.Bot (2012), Peter Gardiner (2011), Claire Martin (2010) and Rowan Mathews (2009).

The 2018 Calleen Art Award opening night took place Saturday, 5 May and was a memorable and enjoyable Gallery event. For more information about the Calleen Art Award, stay in touch through the Gallery facebook page.

Calleen Art Award 2018 Finalists

  • Xiao Bai
  • Susan Baird
  • Michael Bell
  • Kate Briscoe
  • Annabel Butler
  • Daniel Butterworth
  • Jemma Calavassy
  • Jane Canfield
  • David Collins
  • Peter Cook
  • Kathryn Cowen
  • Dagmar Cyrulla
  • Tracy Dods
  • Bridget Dolan
  • Kate Dorrough
  • John Downton
  • Shannon Doyle
  • Graeme Drendel
  • Ashley Frost
  • Keith Fyfe
  • Craig Handley
  • Rachel Hannan
  • Samir Hamaiel
  • Hope Hardy
  • Geoff Harvey
  • Vicki Hersey
  • Kerry Johns
  • Val Johnson
  • Col Jordan
  • Hui (Kathy) Liu
  • Steve Lopes
  • Robert Malherbe
  • Nic Mason
  • Rowen Matthews
  • Kerry McInnis
  • Paul McKnight
  • Wayne Miles
  • Annabel Nowlan
  • Hal Pratt
  • Claire Primrose
  • Petra Reece
  • Brian Robinson
  • Brenda Runnegar
  • Stuart Smith
  • Sally Stokes
  • Zoe Young


Image: Brian Robinson, Sowing the Crops and Reading the Stars, 2018 enamel spray paint, liquitex paint marker 152 x 122 cm