The art of judging up for debate: Joondalup Community Invitation Art Award

Last year’s Community Invitation Art Award overall winner Teelah George with her artwork.
Last year’s Community Invitation Art Award overall winner Teelah George with her artwork.

THE City of Joondalup’s annual Community Invitation Art Award opens this Saturday.

The exhibition will feature three works each by 15 professional artists from across WA, including painting, photography, sculpture and installation.

A judging panel will award $15,000 in prizes on Friday night and the overall winning artwork will become part of the City’s art collection.

Prizes include $7000 for the overall winner and $2000 each for the runner-up, award for excellence, celebrating Joondalup award and popular choice voted by the public.

One artist will also be commissioned to produce a piece for the City’s Inside-Out Billboard for display from March next year.

At a council meeting earlier this year, councillors voted to change the format of the judging panel.

Previously, the panel had been made up of three arts industry professionals.

City officers had recommended the panel not be changed “on account of the high degree of expertise required for this role”.

But Cr Russ Fishwick moved a motion to add an elected member of the Art Collection and Advisory Committee.

He said he had not agreed with the panel’s decisions the past three years.

“The divergence of opinion of the people I spoke to after the last exhibition led me to question whether a non-professional member should be added to the judging panel,” he said.

“Obviously professional judges are perhaps more in tune with what the contemporary art market likes but at the end of the day, it’s the people’s choice that captures what people really like.

“I believe some pragmatism is required when selected winning art which, at the end of the day, we pay $7000 for in prize money and it becomes the property of the City.”

Cr Liam Gobbert asked if adding a non-professional would be in keeping with the National Association of Visual Arts’ code of practice and corporate services director Mike Tidy said he believed the “recommendation would be the panel should comprise art experts and not a lay person”.

“A role on the CIAA judging panel has a direct impact on the art collection with regard to the winning artwork that needs to be selected carefully with consideration to its place in the City’s art collection,” a council document said.

“The CIAA has an excellent reputation as a major WA art award, therefore it is important to consider the consequences and impact changes to the format of the prize and the judging panel will have.

“Introducing unqualified members to the panels may undermine the value of the award and could have a negative impact on the quality and quantity of entrants.”

Cr John Chester agreed the judging panel should remain as just professionals, however Cr Brian Corr said it was the “lay people” that decided what artwork was the best and “in a lot of cases the lay people get it right”.

“This artwork is being bought with ratepayers’ money and ratepayers are lay people and I don’t think it would hurt to have a lay opinion to challenge the experts’ opinions on some of the art being selected,” Cr Mike Norman said.

Cr Gobbert raised concerns about “deviating from the national code of practice, which would diminish the professional reputation of the CIAA and compromise the integrity and the standing of the overall collection”.

The motion to add a non-professional to the judging panel was approved 11-2 with Crs Kerry Hollywood and Chester voting against.

The exhibition will run in The Great Space at Lakeside Joondalup Shopping City until October 31.

It will include a curator’s tour and artist talks on October 24 and Joondalup Art Gallery will hold a networking evening and panel discussion on October 20 and artist workshop with Fiona Gavino on October 31.

Artists for the 2015 Community Invitation Art Award:

Amy Perejuan-Capone

Ben Waters

Clare Peak

Christophe Canato

David Attwood

Denise Pepper

Fiona Gavino

Jacob Ogden-Smith

Jacobus Capone

Jurek Wybreneik

Lee Harrop

Mike Gray

Nathan Beard

Tim Burns

Trevor Bly and Patrick Doherty