Member for Caloundra Mark McArdle has criticised the Local Government decision to “kill off” Caloundra’s ‘Holmes Prize’ after only three years.
“In an unthinkable move, our Council is about to bring the chop down on Caloundra’s ‘Holmes Prize’, despite it being a new initiative which has run successfully with a promise of attracting local and international artists to exhibit in Caloundra,” Mr McArdle said.
“The exhibition focuses purely on the painting of birds and is the only exhibition of its type in Australia.
“It was the brainchild of Dr Gary Holmes, who wanted to see people enjoy works of art of birds.
“Dr Holmes initially committed a payment of $10,000 for 10 years but this year he has increased first prize to $15,000 plus four Excellence Awards of $1000 each and a People’s Choice prize of $1000. That is a significant contribution to art in Caloundra, showing that Caloundra is continuing to develop as an art precinct.”
Last year’s judge was Dr Penelope Olsen who has an outstanding CV. In 1997 she was awarded the Royal Australasian Ornithologists Union’s DL Serventy Medal for Excellence in a published work on birds in the Australian Region.
Dr Olsen was so impressed with the quality of the finalists that she has agreed to judge the award again in 2017.
“On opening night 2016, 241 people attended the Regional Art Gallery in Caloundra – the largest number to ever attend the gallery.
“The Holmes exhibition showcases both the Gallery and Caloundra as an art destination – 11 pieces were sold in 2016 for a total value of $39,000.
“The Holmes prize puts Caloundra on the map, draws more people in Caloundra as a tourist destination and provides the Gallery with status.
“It is claimed that the exhibition is really to benefit one man and the Gallery is being used to establish ‘provenance’.
“It is true that Dr Holmes receives the art work that is judged the best as part of the arrangement he has negotiated but he has no say in the judging and a number of last year’s pieces were sold to collectors,” Mr McArdle said.
“I’m sorry but every time a painting or piece of artwork is exhibited anywhere it has the potential to create a market. I would not like to try to estimate the number of art works that have been purchased through the Regional Gallery or for that matter any gallery. In part that is what a gallery is there for.
“Short-sightedness and a lack of vision is holding this Gallery back. Perhaps there are other plans being considered that Caloundra is not aware of.
“It’s time for the blinkers to come off and recognise the times we live in together with the positive impact this exhibit has upon Caloundra and the community.
“Let’s be real and get with 2017.”