2022 winner: 'Lightning Strike' by Freya Job.

Artists from across Australia and the South Coast are being encouraged to enter the 2023 River of Art Prize, part of Eurobodalla’s unique, annual arts festival.

Running with the theme of Celebrating Place, the festival offers a regional platform for artists inspired by the environment and its people to create works that reflect culture, identity, and history.

Finalists works and awards will be presented in an exhibition at Bay Pavilions on September 15, marking the start of the Festival’s two week program.

This year, the prize money has been increased to $3500 for the winner, $1500 for the runner up and $500 for the artwork that is most highly commended. Visitors to the festival can also vote for their favourite artwork in the People’s Choice Award to be presented at the gala opening on September 15 at the Bay Pavilions in Batemans Bay.

The River of Art coincides with the whale migration and the spring harvest, the festival’s program will include more than 100 exhibitions, open studios, workshops and performances culminating in a special evening event called ‘Luminous: Celebrating Place’ on September 23.

“September is a very special time on the southern new south wales coastline and our region is truly a hidden gem,” Festival Chair Leanne Joyce said.

“We emerge from our wintery cocoons, eager to embrace the change of season and enjoy new experiences while we reconnect with the wider community,” she said.

“The diversity of events and creativity presents a rare opportunity to rediscover the produce, beauty and community of the south coast between Bermagui on the Sapphire Coast and Durras in the Shoalhaven.”

“Whether you plan a mid-week stay or a couple of day-trips you can combine arts, nature, national parks and celebrated local produce in the one outing,” Leanne said.

Artists in the area are also urged to register their workshops, open studios, exhibitions and performances now for promotion in the lead up to the Festival.

The event listings will feature on the new website, launched this week, where visitors can build an itinerary based on their travel dates, creative interests and preferred geographical base. The program will be finalised in mid-July.

The 2022 art prize attracted 53 entries from 41 artists. Braidwood artist Freya Job won the prize with ‘Lightning Strike’ and ‘Firestorm’, inspired by the moment the Black Range Fire ignited during Black Summer.