You choose the winners in this art prize

The Geelong Arts Society’s annual Portrait Exhibition has a bit of a twist this year – there are no official judges. Instead, the first, second and third prizes will all be decided by the public. 

'I Am David' by Adaes Fry, an oil on canvas, is part of the Geelong Arts Society exhibition. Photo: Ellen Dodd

Now purely people’s choice, the exhibition – held at the Shearer’s Arms Gallery in Aberdeen St – includes boxes in the front and back rooms where visitors can fill out a card with the name of the piece that they feel deserves to win. This mirrors the ever-popular People’s Choice award in the national Archibald portrait competition, which is arguably one of Australia’s most famous and prestigious art prizes and exhibitions.  

GAS first began holding its own portrait show following the Geelong Gallery’s Archibald exhibition in 2017, and since then it has become an annual event.  

The theme of this year’s exhibition is ‘the subject must engage the audience’. The pieces range from self-portraits to animals, and encompass a wide range of mediums including limestone carvings.  

Sue Robinson is a volunteer at GAS and has been a member for more than a decade.  

“We run a portrait group in the studio every Wednesday, so a lot of those people have put their portrait work in,” Robinson said. 

The current Portrait exhibition features work from GAS art students and studio users.  

Robinson said that, despite having her own pieces in the show, she thought I am David by Adaes Fry was her favourite piece of this year’s exhibition. 

One of the voting boxes at the Geelong Arts Society exhibition, sitting under the painting ‘The Spanish Muse’ by Mark Davis. Photo: Ellen Dodd

GAS has been a constant of the Geelong art scene since its commencement in 1947. Since then, it has had a number of homes, but in 1987 it was able to purchase the Shearer’s Arms Gallery and has remained there since. It is one of a handful of Australian art societies that owns its own building, which allows it to run classes and exhibitions without outside influence.  

The exhibition runs until August 29, at which point all the votes will be tallied and the winners will be announced. 



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