Kangaroo Valley visual art exhibition showcases nation's best

Rex Irwin, Advisor to Visual Arts in the Valley, with some of his Australian and European artworks. Image supplied.
Rex Irwin, Advisor to Visual Arts in the Valley, with some of his Australian and European artworks. Image supplied.

Go big or go home - that's the approach of Visual Arts in the Valley 2020 organisers this October long weekend.

And you won't want to go home until you've seen at least a portion of the art on offer in Kangaroo Valley.

The event attracted more than 600 entries from all over Australia, each entrant keen to take out one of the prestigious prizes on offer.

Prizes - worth $18,000 this year - are entirely funded by Kangaroo Valley residents.

Not content with a single gallery, the event will also include a salon of local artists, a pop-up gallery courtesy of Sydney's King Street Gallery on William, an art installation in the centre of the village, an art trail and a light show on Saturday night.

Gary Moore, Visual Arts Director, in front of Dugong Dreaming c1953 by Djambawa Marawili. Image supplied.

Gary Moore, Visual Arts Director, in front of Dugong Dreaming c1953 by Djambawa Marawili. Image supplied.

While spots for the opening on Friday, October 2, must be booked ahead of time due to COVID-19 restriction, the remainder of the weekend viewers are welcome to come and go as they please.

Organisers do not anticipate visitor numbers over the weekend will exceed the numbers allowed under COVID-19 restrictions.

The biennial festival has exploded in popularity over the past five years, and this year has attracted household names in the Australian art world, such as Tattersalls Art Prize winner Elisabeth Cummings, 1985 Archibald Prize winner Guy Warren and Euan Macleod.

Visual arts director for the event, Professor Gary Moore, said while the event had begun to attract more out-of-state entries, its success was firmly rooted in the local community.

"The Kangaroo Valley community is a passionate community," he said.

"There's tree-changers, farmers, many different people here and we all work together to help each other.

"In the past this was a regional exhibition, but it's beginning to get on the national radar as an emerging art prize - 15 per cent of entries were from outside NSW this year.

"We want to build on that status, without losing our regional, local flavour. There's something special about the Valley and we want to keep it that way."

Professor Moore said that desire was the inspiration for the salon of local artists. Local artists can also enter their works for the main prize, but the salon ensures a section of the exhibition remains dedicated to showcasing local talent.

He intends to continue the pop-up gallery in future years. The idea was the brainchild of international art dealer Rex Irwin, and will ideally go to a gallery from a different state each year.

The exhibition is also an opportunity for artists to sell their work. COVID-19 restrictions have led to many exhibitions being cancelled, particularly in Victoria.

"Artists, like many others, have been hurting through COVID-19," Professor Moore said.

"We'd love to see as many works as possible sold."

This story After long weekend inspiration? There's nothing small about this regional art exhibition first appeared on South Coast Register.