The Naked & Nude Art Prize®

(Previously the Manning Art Prize: Naked & Nude)



 In the beginning…

In 2021, we celebrate the 15th Art Prize since the Inaugural Walkom Manning Art Prize. The first Art Prize opened on 19 October 1990 and ran for two weeks at the Manning Art Gallery (then located within the Manning Entertainment Centre).


In 1990, the total prize money was over $6,000; the Major Prize was $2,000. The Art Prize was well received by local artists and those from other regions and was successful both artistically and culturally. Twenty of the exhibited works were sold.


In 2006, major sponsors Philip and Dusty Walkom wrote to the (then) FOGS Committee stating that they had decided to remove their name from the Art Prize to encourage other benefactors to promote art in the Manning Valley. They hoped that by taking this step the community would share a greater affinity with the prize. Philip and Dusty also committed to being principal sponsors and increased their support for the 2007 Art Prize. In 2007, the name of the Art Prize changed to The Manning Art Prize.


From these beginnings, this biennial event has grown to be an important event on local and national artists’ calendars.


Until 2011, the Art Prize was open to all art genres and had multiple prize categories. Over the years, there were specific themes such as 2001 “Images of The Human Body”, followed in 2003 by “AQUA VITAE: Water of Life” and 2005 with “Carnival of Life”.


When planning began for the 2013 Art Prize, John McDonald, the art critic for the Sydney Morning Herald, suggested that the theme be Naked & Nude as there were no other major prizes in Australia with that theme. We hoped it would attract many well-known artists from around Australia and overseas. We have been fortunate that such prominent artists as Wendy Sharpe, Robert Malherbe, Dagmar Cyrulla, Malcolm McFarlane and Laura Matthews have been winners of the Major Prize.


Prizes and Prize Winners
The Art Prizes in 2005 and 2007 offered total prize money of $12,000 with $10,000 for the acquisitive Major Prize. With the introduction of the Naked & Nude theme, the total prize money increased from $16,000 to $21,000.


For 2021, the total prize money will be $32,000: $30,000 for the acquisitive Major Prize and $2,000 for the People’s Choice Award.  The 2021 prize money has placed the Art Prize in line with other regional art prizes and made it a nationally recognized event. As an acquisitive prize, the winning work is donated by the Friends of the Manning Regional Art Gallery (Friends) to the Gallery collection.


Selection and Judging
The Art Prizes has always been selective. Up to and including the 2003 Art Prize, all works entered were sent to the Manning Regional Art Gallery. Independent selectors working together selected the finalists.


The 2005 Art Prize introduced a different process: artists included visual images (digital or prints) of their works and brief descriptions with their entry application. Selectors viewed these images (with the artist’s identity masked) to make their selections. The successful artists were notified and only then submitted their work.


In 2017, Friends developed a web-based entry application for the Art Prize. The web-based form makes it easy for artists to enter and pay the entry fee. It also streamlines the management of the Art Prize for us and the selectors who choose the finalists. We have been pleased with its success and have refined it for the 2021 Art Prize.


Gallery staff and volunteers curate and display the art works in the week before the Art Prize exhibition opens. For 2021, the winner will be announced at the opening night on 28 August 2021. The People’s Choice award will be announced at the close of the exhibition on 10 October 2021.


The Friends greatly appreciate the tireless work of the Gallery staff who notify the finalists, work on artist statements, produce the Art Prize catalogue, and receive the finalists’ art works. Our partnership with the Gallery ensures that the Art Prize is a highly-regarded cultural event for the NSW Mid-Coast region.


Interesting statistics
The Manning Regional Art Gallery has around 18,000 visits per year. Its digital presence reaches about 80,000 and has over 2,000 outreach participants/audience members per year.


During the 2017 Art Prize, there were 1,994 visitors to the Gallery; during the 2019 Art Prize, there were 2,007 visitors to the Gallery. In 2021 we are expecting more visitors.


The biennial Art Prize visitors are about 12% of the total overall Gallery visitors.