Kim Hyunji wins Bluethumb’s 2018 Art Prize

I was excited to be on the panel of judges for this year’s Bluethumb Art Prize – an annual award that aims to raise the profile of Australian artists.

This year the response was huge with more than 2,300 entries submitted (more than double that of last year!). From that large pool, it was narrowed down to 100 semi-finalists, and then 30 finalists, and at the Bluethumb Art Prize event last week, Kim Hyunji was crowned as winer of the overall art prize with her piece Painless (Luke).

Kim prize winner
Big smiles from Kim as she’s announced as Bluethumb Art Prize 2018 winner

Not only did she win the overall Bluethumb Art Prize 18 with a prize sum of $10,000, she was also selected as the winner for the Works on Canvas award, gaining her an additional $2,000 in prize money.

“It is so great to win the Bluethumb Art Prize,” says Kim. “I don’t usually get any reviews or reactions about my creations so winning the Bluethumb award has shown me that my works can appeal to a larger audience,” says Kim.

“Luke (@painlesslukerobinson) is a super talented emerging tattooist from Western Australia,” says Kim of her subject. “When I first met him in my old studio in Fremantle, I asked him to sit for me because I liked his face. Even if my works are categorized as portraiture, I don’t really project any personal feelings onto my models while I’m painting, I consciously try not to. I more so steal their facial features and expressions and I tend to express my feelings by borrowing their face. Through Luke’s face I wanted to explore the possible anxieties faced by individuals of our generation, living in the first world.

“I intend to use the prize money to get better quality canvases and materials and continue making work.”

Luke winning artwork
Painless (Luke)

Other winners on the night included Erin Nicholls for the Works on Paper Award with her stunning piece Smoke, Illawanti Ungkutjuru Ken of Tjanpi Desert Weavers won the Other Media Award with her incredible woven basket Patupiri Wiltja, and Alice Blanch received the Photography Award with her moody piece A Shifting Stillness #4. Winners of each category award received a $2,000 cash prize.

“It is hoped that these prizes will help empower the winners to build a sustainable career in the arts; the underlying mission of the art prize and of Bluethumb as a whole,” says the Bluethumb team.

“As an online art gallery open to all Australian artists, one of our primary aims for the art prize was to remove the barriers that often prevent artists from entering art prizes – namely cost, difficulty and bias.”

You can find more information about all the winning artists and this year’s Bluehtumb Art Prize on their website here.

It was terrific to see such an incredible and diverse pool of artworks entered in the 2018 Bluethumb Art Prize and I’m excited to see what 2019 will bring!

Photography by Megan George

Winner of mixed media

Art Prize event

Admiring work of local artist

Incredible works on show

Bluethumb art prize shortlist

Bluethumb art prize


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