The Alice Prize launched to great fanfare in a corrugated iron shed at the old Alice Springs showgrounds in 1970. It was a remarkable achievement having only been conceived the year prior when a group of committed locals formed the Alice Springs Art Foundation, led by founding President Bernie Kilgariff MLA. The Foundation was determined to put Alice Springs on the map by staging a national art prize and bringing the art of acclaimed artists to the Centre for locals to experience and enjoy. The 1970 Alice Prize had prize money of $2,000 and comprised 207 entries, all transported to the Centre for free, by Ansett Airlines after Bernie brokered a deal with his mate and owner Reg Ansett. It was an incredible success and plans were put in place to make it an annual event.
In 1971 the Alice Springs Art Foundation again demonstrated remarkable vision by making the Alice Prize acquisitive and began acquiring not only the winning artwork but also additional works of significance and the beginnings of an important collection started to materialise. Since this time the Prize has continued to evolve and has become a key platform for both established and emerging artists working across the nation. As the Alice Prize gained momentum so did the collection of artworks and both were essential for the Art Foundation and many others to lobby for the establishment of an art gallery that would not only host the Prize but also house and exhibit the significant collection of contemporary artworks it had established.
Success came in 1984 with the opening of the Araluen Arts Centre and the Alice Prize has subsequently been a key highlight of its exhibition’s calendar. The Prize has continued to evolve and from 1990 has been pre-selected by industry experts and has been held biennially since 2002. Across its history 195 artworks been acquired and donated to the Alice Springs Town Council for the people of Alice Springs. These works are permanently housed at the Araluen Arts Centre where they are a key component of the Araluen Art Collection and regularly featured in curated exhibitions. This exhibition presents a selection of these artworks, including many previous winners and highlights the strength of this collection and its importance not only to the local community but also nationally. It recognises the vision of the Alice Springs Art Foundation and its many members for their amazing contribution to the artistic landscape of Central Australia. In 2024 we look forward to presenting the 43rd Alice Prize in the Araluen Galleries.
On now until 3rd March, 2024.