Exquisite wearables, rich oil paintings and even a cardboard platypus have been announced among the finalists for the River of Art Prize this morning.

Thirty three finalists were selected from 67 entries from across Eurobodalla and as far afield as Canberra, Sydney and Melbourne.

As we celebrate place this year, a recurring theme in these works is the beauty of our area and the meaning of home,” said Leanne Joyce, Chair of River of Art Inc.

“There are many different interpretations from large ceramic sculpture through to small glass and silver pendants.”

Bessie Nunes, Tales of Flame (detail), 48 x 128 x 48cm

This year, the prize money was increased to $3500 for the winner, $1500 for the runner up and $500 for the artwork that is most highly commended. The People’s Choice award will be announced at the festival’s conclusion.

Winners will be unveiled at the exhibition and Festival launch on Friday, September 15 at Bay Pavilions, Batemans Bay.

“Today’s reveal of the Art Prize finalists is a brilliant preview to the festival’s showcase of culture, music, visual art, theatre and creative workshops,” Leanne said.

“The festival is growing each year and we couldn’t do that without the hundreds of artists who participate.” 

“Just about every venue across the region is booked up, we are delighted to be experiencing an upwelling of interest flowing from the art prize announcement back in June, right along the Art Trail to the festival finale, Luminous on September 23.”

Geoffrey Odgers, Elephant Rock One Tree Beach Ochre 2023, 100 x 76cm

The Festival’s 10 day program boasts a range of events from Artists in Conversation, a new addition for 2023, 35 curated exhibitions, 20 open studios, 22 workshops and 19 performances and gigs.

“Most events are free, but tickets are selling fast now for Luminous and theatre events,” Leanne said. “Book now if you have been thinking of joining a workshop, we have some very talented teachers and spots are limited.”

Previous River of Art Prize winners include Geoffrey Odgers and Jenni Bourke, with the 2022 art prize attracting 53 entries from 41 artists.

Aline Joyce, Orchids, 95 x 95cm

Braidwood Freya Job won the prize in 2022 with ‘Lightning Strike’ and ‘Firestorm’, two works inspired by the moment the Black Range Fire ignited during Black Summer. 

The win was a catalyst for change, giving Freya the confidence to share her work more widely.

“I really don’t think I would have leapt in the deep, not as I have, because it was a such a vote of confidence,” she said.

River of Art runs from September 15 to 24, with the festival finale Luminous: Celebrating Place at Moruya Showground on Saturday, 23 September.

Tickets are on sale now, with free entry for children under 16 who attend with a parent or carer and buses from Batemans Bay and Narooma.

River of Art is supported by Eurobodalla Shire Council and Festivals Australia.

See the full gallery at www.riverofart.com.au/river-of-art-prize