2013 art prize finalists announced

PRIZE: Last Whyalla Art Prize judges (from left) Alexandra Reid, former winner Neil Haddon and John Neylon with last prize winner Mark McCarthy's winning piece.
PRIZE: Last Whyalla Art Prize judges (from left) Alexandra Reid, former winner Neil Haddon and John Neylon with last prize winner Mark McCarthy's winning piece.

The finalists for the Whyalla Art Prize have been announced for this year.

The winner of the biennial award will be drawn on Saturday, October 19 at the prize's grand opening.

Prizes this year are $25,000 for the main prize, $2500 for the 18 to 26 youth category and $500 for the under 18 category.

Country Arts SA arts development officer Kirsty Connor said this year was one of the strongest years for the competition.

"It's definitely one of the highest calibre of works I've ever seen," Ms Connor said.

"There were 189 entries this year, the majority of which were from within South Australia."

Ms Connor said there were a number of local entries this year as well with local artists Karl James and Leith O'Malley entering into the competition.

"This is definitely one of the strongest years," Ms Connor said.

"It's going to be very hard for the judges to judge this year."

As is tradition for the art prize, recent winner Mark McCarthy will be one of the judges for this year's prize.

Mr McCarthy won in 2011 with his painting Lights and Sounds Colliding.

The last winner of the under 18 prize was Jessica Daniels with her painting The Real Me and the winner of the 12 to 26-year-old category was Chris Gaston with The Watcher.

Each art prize the Whyalla City Council buys the winning artwork to hang up in the council offices.

In 2011 the art prize saw more than 100 people attend the opening which Middleback Theatre venue manager Ryan Sutherland said was more than the previous prize.

In 2011 Country Arts SA chief executive officer Steve Saffell said in his opinion, that year's prize was one of the best Whyalla has held.

"To me it's (the art prize) one of the best we've had so far, I mean the quality of the works is just unbelievable," Mr Saffell said.

"Really in a national context, this is a very major art prize.

"There are works from all over Australia [and] I'm happy to say that 16 of the finalists are from South Australia."

Former City of Whyalla Art Prize winner and 2011 judge Neil Haddon, said the competition was incredibly tough to judge, as all the works were varied and were all good.

"It [the judging process] is incredibly hard, especially when it's 300 completely different works, it's not 300 that are similar, it's 300 [where] everything's different, so you have to have your wits about you and that process takes several hours," Mr Haddon said.

Two of the 42 finalists in 2011 were from Whyalla, Leith O'Malley and Karl James.

The opening of the art prize will be held on Saturday, October 19 at 5pm with everyone welcome.

After the opening Circus Oz will be held, which is always a popular and entertaining show.