The Dobell Drawing Prize is an unparalleled celebration of drawing technique and innovation. This National Art School touring exhibition showcases 43 of the 64 finalists from the 2021 Prize and includes Euan Macleod’s winning work, chosen by guest judge and acclaimed artist Lucy Culliton. Presenting a range of material approaches – from animation, collage and paper weaving, to charcoal, ink and watercolour – the exhibition demonstrates the remarkable vitality and scope of contemporary Australian drawing.
William Dobell’s love of drawing was recognised in 1993 when the Sir William Dobell Art Foundation (SWDAF) initiated a drawing prize in his name at the Art Gallery of New South Wales. For twenty years, the annual Dobell Prize for Drawing encouraged excellence in drawing and draughtsmanship among Australian artists. Past winners include Kevin Connor, David Fairbairn, Virginia Grayson, Nicholas Harding, Ann Pollak, Gareth Sansom, Jan Senbergs, Garry Shead and Aida Tomescu.
Building on the legacy of this respected award, the National Art School partnered with the SWDAF in 2019 to produce the biennial Dobell Drawing Prize. This new competition preserves an important attribute of the original prize, by not stipulating what a drawing is in the terms and conditions of entry. This allows definitions of drawing to shift and evolve with each exhibition, depending on the entries of the artists and the perspectives of the judges. The Dobell Drawing Prize #22 – the 22nd exhibition in the Prize’s storied history – continues this tradition of fostering conversations around the changing role of drawing within contemporary art practice.
The winner of the Dobell Drawing Prize is awarded $30,000 and their work becomes part of the National Art School Collection. The judging process is initially undertaken digitally by a panel of practising artists. In 2021, the panel included Michelle Belgiorno (artist and trustee at the SWDAF), Simon Cooper (artist and head of studies at the National Art School) and Lucy Culliton (artist and 2021 guest judge). After 64 finalists were selected out of a record 948 entries from around the country, guest judge Lucy Culliton chose the outright winner at the Prize exhibition in March 2021.