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Bendigo Art Gallery

Previous Winners



The Arthur Guy Memorial Painting Prize 2015 was awarded to Guan Wei. The judges described his work Beach 5 as having 'a strong cultural message. It is a painting about Australia and the idea of cultural transformation by a Chinese born Australian artist that speaks to us about the changing nature of Australian life'.

Since 2008 Guan set up a studio in Beijing after living in Australia for 20 years and started a new life as a travelling artist working and living in both China and Australia. Every  time he returned to his Sydney home he was always aware of the blue sky, blue sea, golden beaches,  the green bush and relaxed life style. His painting  uses references from the old Chinese maps, the three red seals are the names for imagined mountains. The emu symbolizes Australia. The fan symbolizes China. In this painting the bright sunshine, floating clouds, transparent seawater, the enchantment of the beach, all combine together to reveal a picture of nature and harmony, lightness and joy of Australia life style.



Wei Guan Beach5 winner2015 AGMPP Bendigo Art Gallery

Guan Wei
Beach 5 2014
acrylic on canvas
Courtesy of the artist and Nancy Sever Gallery


The Arthur Guy Memorial Painting Prize 2013 was awarded Melbourne artist Chris Bond for his work Viridian.
Chris Bond’s painting is an illusion and a finely crafted canvas, constructed to look like a book. Bond expands on the historical tradition of realist painting and creates the illusion of a three dimensional object. It is a painting expressed through the form of a book. Empty and wordless, the work can also convey a sense of loss that we will never understand. This paradox is part of the work’s beguiling beauty.
Constructed from linen, canvas and cardboard, the surface of this painted book carries exaggerated damage from its imagined use as actual objects – marks, creases, tears and stains disrupt the carefully painted surfaces. Yet the visible edges of the internal pages, constructed of layers of canvas, are crisp and clean.

Bond's interest in Formalism … stretch[es] back to art school days in the 1990s … [my] works attempt to reduce the possibility of ‘reading’ – by removing context through the erasure of text, flattening the image by blurring and avoiding texture, and finally reducing the imagery to a single colour.
The hardback book is a beautifully redundant form. Historically its authority was held in its bulk, its expense, its inability to be broken. The dust jacket, by contrast, is lightweight, flimsy, easily damaged – a throw away. My painted books amplify this distinction, to the extent where the covers seem incongruous, misfit.”

    Chris Bond 'Viridian' Winner Arthur Guy Memorial Painting Prize 2013

Chris Bond
Viridian 2012
oil, canvas, card and MDF on linen
Courtesy of the artist and Nellie Castan Gallery, Melbourne


Sydney-based artist Tim Johnson was awarded the 2011 Prize. The judges commented, ‘As one of Australia’s most highly regarded senior artists, Tim Johnson’s painting Community base unifies various disparate elements through multiple themes and narratives. Exemplary of his overall practice the work references the notion of “Painting” and creates a fresh sense of what painting can do. It is a complex work that rewards on close viewing and will warrant repeat visits.’

Tim Johnson is a key contemporary painter in Australian postmodern art. Influenced by Asian art and Western Desert painting, his interests spread wider than Australia and include the art of the Buddhist East and Native America.  He saw similarities between the art of cultural forms and Aboriginal art, which inspired magnificent multi-layered canvases simultaneously rich with chunks of life, events, moments and places. Since 1980 Johnson has actively collaborated with many Indigenous artists including Clifford Possum Tjapaltjarri as well as senior Asian artists, creating breathtaking amalgams of various cultures that have been influential and at times controversial.


Tim Johnson Community base 2010 acrylic on linen 150 x 180cm. Courtesy of the artist and Tolarno Galleries, Melbourne. Winner 2011 Arthury Guy Memorial Painting Prize

Tim Johnson
Community Base 2010
acrylic on linen
Courtesy of the artist and Tolarno Galleries, Melbourne


The 2009 Prize was awarded to Melbourne based artist Jan Nelson. The outstanding photo-realist painting Tom shows with remarkable technical virtuosity what is possible at the juncture of painting and photography. Although a painting, the stunning work hints at the obsession with youth and image in modern culture. The judges commented, ‘Walking in Tall Grass (Tom) is a luminous painting that packs a punch despite its small size. It is an accomplished synthesis of style and subject, characterised by a conscious appropriation of contradictory styles that we recognise as decidedly contemporary. Its heightened colour, amazing detail and the scene in the mirrored sunglasses draw us into the world of the character Nelson depicts.'


Jan Nelson, Walking in tall grass (Tom), copyright the artist

Jan Nelson
Walking in Tall Grass (Tom) 2009
oil on linen
Courtesy of the artist and Anna Schwartz Gallery


The 2007 prize was awarded to Stephen Bush for his monumental work Jerks as a passable frown. The work was selected by the panel of judges from more than 340 entrants (42 short listed paintings). Based in Melbourne, Stephen Bush has been a practicing artist for almost 30 years. Since graduating from the Royal Melbourne Institute of Technology in 1978, Bush has exhibited extensively across Australia and the United States. Bush’s painting is extensive and varied, he engages with a diverse range of subjects from the real to the sublime. His latest series of works, depicts majestic natural landscapes made surreal by his use of lurid pinks and greens. Into these landscapes Bush inserts emblems of human occupation – a potbelly stove, a small building – seemingly at odds with the surrounding landscape. We have a sense of an environment of seemingly contradictory elements – the beauty and untamed aspects of nature juxtaposed with humanity’s attempts at control and cultivation.


Stephen BUSH, Jerks as a passable frown 2006, oil and enamel on linen, Courtesy of the artist and Sutton Gallery

Stephen Bush
Jerks as a Passable Frown2006
oil and enamel on linen
Courtesy of the artist and Sutton Gallery


Dale Frank was selected out of 41 short listed artists from around Australia and received a $50,000 cash acquisitive prize. Judge Rachel Kent, senior curator at the Museum of Contemporary Art, Sydney commented, ‘Dale Frank has explored representational and more abstract modes in his art over the past two decades. In this work, pools of poured coloured varnish create a rich and tactile surface. The exhibition of finalists represents a great opportunity to view works by over 40 contemporary Australian painters. It provides an insight into key themes and concerns shaping Australian painting now, and reflects the healthy state of the medium. The selection of an award recipient was a difficult process due to the high standard of exhibited works, and the sustained practices of the participating artists.’


Dale Frank Three Lies

Dale Frank
Three Lies: Good things come in small packages;
Nothing is interesting if you are not interested;
One man’s meat is another man’s poison.
They will show you everything they have – their sexy bodies.
When the student is ready, the master will appear.
Laughter is the closest distance between two people while Happiness is not a state of mind, but a manner of travelling. Tarampa Hotel, Tarampa Road, 2004
acrylic, varnish on linen canvas
Courtesy of the artist and Anna Schwartz Gallery, Melbourne


Winner of the inaugural Arthur Guy Memorial Painting Prize in 2003 was Stieg Persson, for his work Middle Management. The work was considered by the judges to be the most outstanding single work entered in a field that included some of the most significant names in Australian contemporary art. The winning work will now become part of the Bendigo Art Gallery's own collection.

Stieg Persson was the subject of a touring survey exhibition Backmasking: The art of Stieg Persson and has participated in more than 16 solo exhibitions. The artist is represented in numerous international, national, state and regional collections.


Stieg Persson, Middle Management 2002, oil on cotton duck. Courtesy of the artist and Anna Schwartz Gallery, Melbourne

Stieg Persson
Middle Management 2002
oil on cotton duck
Courtesy of the artist and Anna Schwartz Gallery, Melbourne