Professional judge and new awards reinvigorate Sculpture in the Gaol


Image: Bloodlines, by Chris Edwards 2015. The Lake Neighbourhood Centre & Parklands, Blacktown NSW.

The appointment of a professional artist to judge exhibits, plus the creation of new award categories, is reinvigorating the 2019 Sculpture in the Gaol exhibition.

This year’s judge, Chris Edwards of 'Edwards Clarke', is a designer, public art specialist and a descendant of the Gumbaynggir people of Nambucca Heads. As a regular finalist in the Parliament of NSW Indigenous Art Prize, Chris’s work was highly recommended. He also won the National Landcom Award Mentorship to promote inclusive projects that build community identity and local participation through consultation and public artwork in new housing developments.

Event coordinator Phil Nicholas said, “We’re delighted to welcome Chris to judge the main prize categories, as well as give feedback to artists, drawing on his years of experience in the industry.”

“This exhibition attracts a lot of school and community group entries, which we absolutely love and it’s important to recognise the ideas, passion and effort that goes into producing these works.”

A prize will also be awarded for the popular Public Vote, as per previous years, plus two new categories for 2019, the Environmental Awareness and Emerging Artist awards, which each attract a cash prize.

“We’ve already had a local eco-business, Self Sufficiency Supplies, sponsor the prize money for the Environmental Awareness award”, said Mr Nicholas. “It is important that sponsorship is tied to measurable outcomes, so that business owners can see and talk about what their sponsorship is supporting.”

Another new prize category, named Spirit of the Macleay Valley, will be awarded by NSW National Parks and Wildlife Service, who host the exhibition at the historic Trial Bay Gaol in South West Rocks.

The event organisers have been also developing an Artist’s Travel & Accommodation Bursary, designed to support artists travelling significant distances to exhibit.

Mr Nicholas explained, “The exhibition has traditionally attracted submissions from Port Macquarie and the Hunter regions in the south and from Bellingen and beyond in the north, but now we’re receiving enquiries from artists wanting to travel from the Gold Coast, as well as southern and inland regions of NSW.”

Entries for the main exhibition, which runs from Saturday 3rd to Friday 30th August, can be made via the website and close at 5pm on Friday 14th June. There is no entry fee for artists and the prize pool currently stands at $5,000.

Head to and follow @sculptureinthegaol

Phil Nicholas