$1000 carrot dangled for best 2016 painting

Best in show: Barbara Madden and Pat Fisken show some of their work ahead of this year's 43rd annual Ballarat Show painting exhibition. A $1000 prize will be on offer for best painting. Picture: Luka Kauzlaric

Best in show: Barbara Madden and Pat Fisken show some of their work ahead of this year's 43rd annual Ballarat Show painting exhibition. A $1000 prize will be on offer for best painting. Picture: Luka Kauzlaric

It won’t only be the prize rabbits who are lining up for a carrot at this year’s Ballarat Show.

Ballarat artists will also have a carrot or two dangled before them this year – a chance to win $1000 for best painting.

It’s the second year the major prize has been awarded in the 43-year history of the show’s annual painting exhibition.

Organiser Pat Fisken said while the standard had always been high, the added incentive aimed to make the calibre particularly high.

Last year’s winner was Melbourne artist Do Noble, who works in a style called pointilism.

Mrs Fisken said the annual painting exhibition had become a mainstay of the Ballarat Show.

“I started it with a friend, two of us on the ladies committee, 43 years ago. We felt the Harry Smith Pavilion could do with something different, a bit of colour,” she said.

“It was originally to enhance the show, the stuff available for people to see and to start something new.

“We’ve been going ever since.”

Cash prizes are offered in separate categories – oil and acrylics, watercolours, drawings and other mediums, and small paintings.

”Now of course we’ve got the best painting in the show, which is the $1000 award, which has been donated by the agricultural society itself,” Mrs Fisken said.

“That started last year as a bit of impetus for more paintings, perhaps bigger paintings.”

Mrs Fisken said this year’s judge would be Margaret Rich, the former and longest-ever serving director of the Art Gallery of Ballarat.

She said while entrants didn’t need to be Ballarat-based, the majority of artists tended to be locals or living regionally nearby at locations such as Bendigo or Beaufort.

“We don’t necessarily hang every one but we will if we can,” she said.

“We had about 140 last year and we’re expecting about the same this year. I prefer it smaller than huge, it’s more interesting to have a select number.”

The Ballarat Show is this year celebrating its 150th year, with new Ballarat Agricultural and Pastoral Society Kerri Gallagher encouraging people to get their entries in early rather than leaving it until the last minute.

“This will ensure everyone gets all their entry slips and information before the show,” she said.

Entries for the painting exhibition and prize close October 31. To enter, register online at www.ballaratshow.org.au/events/ballarat_show/paintings or visit the office at the showgrounds.

A preview of paintings for sale will be held at 7pm on Thursday, November 10.