Contemporary Art Society of Victoria Inc.


Steps Gallery, 62 Lygon Street, Carlton, Melbourne

10 - 19 December 2021

Review by Member Vida Ryan

Everyone was welcomed to the show with great enthusiasm after a long year of lockdowns in Melbourne. Robert Lee the President said it was “so good to see humans and be face to face with people again” and I think we all felt the same way. Even the Show itself was effected by the pandemic and lockdowns, changing from the original September date to December, but this didn’t stop CAS, thanks to the Artist and Friends involved in the exhibition. There were only three times in the Society’s history that it did not have an annual exhibition, during the Second World War and the Vietnam War. So "hats off and well done" to all of the members and friends involved in bringing together a wonderful show for 2021. There were 82 entries in the show by 44 entrants, the entries included sculptures, paintings, mixed medium works, works on paper and cards.

CAS President Robert Lee opening the CAS Inc. Annual Exhibition 2021

The attentive crowd listening to the opening speech

On entering the space at Steps Gallery, the viewer was met with many inspiring works of art, colourful and with an eclectic range of styles in different genres of work. Some of the pieces reflected the artists’ experience over the past year, how the COVID-19 pandemic has effected their lives, living in these times of uncertainty. Nature also was reflected in many works, and our relationship with it today. All the artists had a lot to say through their different expressions, bringing our attention to the dilemmas and issues we face as human beings in the world today. The show was opened by Robert Lee the President, he welcomed everyone with much elation and thanked our generous sponsors for their support. There was a good attendance and lively conversation about the art work, and the Artists Comments in the show catalogue.

A well attended exhibition opening

Since 1938 CAS has a history of using prominent and established artists as judges for the Annual Exhibition. We were delighted to have Prudence Flint as the judge for the 2021 Annual Exhibition. Prudence, an accomplished painter and seven time finalist in the Archibald Prize, met Cressida, our Secretary, the day before the exhibition opened, and spent a lot of time viewing each work in the exhibition.

The Judge was provided with a catalogue that omits the artist's name so all the works are judged objectively. The Judge was unable to attend the opening and provided her comments about her choice in each award to be read at the acknowledgement of each award. The Judge’s overall comments about the show were that she "enjoyed looking at the work’s very much and thank you for the invitation, there were many thoughtful and considered works in the show". Robert Lee had the honour to award the prizes to the winners in each category. Thank you to our Judge Prudence Flint for judging this year’s show, and to our Sponsors and Members and Friends who took part in making the 2021 Annual Contemporary Art Exhibition a great success.

--- Here are the Annual Exhibition 2021 Prize Winners, with Judge’s Notes ---

1st Prize, $1,750: Balancing Act by Vida Ryan. “This painting jumped out with its skilled fresh lively marks and vivid use of colour. I would love to see an extended series of these paintings exhibited.”

Balancing Act, acrylic, 100 x 120 cm, by Vida Ryan


2nd Prize, $1,250: I Am All Alone by Robert Lee. Judge's Comment: “This work stood out for its intrigue and curious lament and made me want to look and consider its text and playful message.”

I Am All Alone, cotton thread, indian ink, plastic jewels on paper, 63 x 81 cm, by Robert Lee


3rd Prize, $714: Europa, and Xian, both by Damon Kowarsky. Judge's comment:  “These etchings are outstanding in subject matter and finish. A beautiful sense of form, marks and texture.”

Europa and Xian, both etching & aquatint from 2 copper plates, 30 x 30 cm, by Damon Kowarsky


4th Prize, $360: Wrapped by Filomena Roberts. Judge's comment:  “This painting stood out in its unique painting language. I would love to see an extended series of these exhibited. The sensitive stylization of shapes, colour, line, and textures create a unique voice.”

Wrapped, acrylic on canvas, 91 x 46 cm, by Filomena Roberts


Judge's Encouragement Award, $150: The Scottish Patriot, and Her Mother's Cup, both by Carmel O’Connor. Judge's comment: “Lively skilled figurative painting that is full of warmth and character.”

The Scottish Patriot and Her Mother's Cup, both oil, 64 x 49 cm, by Carmel O’Connor


Special Prize for Innovative Use of Materials, $819: Encase by Kate Howard. Judge's comment: “The subtle use of collage and the grid created by the CD cases create a unique successful picture.”

Encase, tea bag paper, thread, pigment & CD cases, 76 x 100 cm, by Kate Howard


Highly Commended: Conscience and Consciousness by Jon Lam. Judge's comment:  “Striking simple approach.”

Conscience and Consciousness, ink line on canvas, 76 x 100 cm, by Jon Lam


Highly Commend: The Blush of Summer by Robyn Pridham. Judge's comment: “Lovely colours, detail and mark making.”

The Blush of Summer, mixed media & collage on canvas, 30 x 30 cm, by Robyn Pridham


Highly Commend: Living in the Middle of Doubt by Bruce Webb. Judge's comment: “Vivid strong colour and forms.”

Living in the Middle of Doubt, acrylic on canvas, 65 x 65 cm, by Bruce Webb

Thanks to our Sponsors, we had total $5,043 in prizes, plus more in advertising and signage to support the exhibition. We gratefully acknowledge our Sponsors:

• Adara Hotels Richmond

• Amora Hotel Riverwalk

• Art Almanac

• Arthouse Direct

• Cam Art, Craft & Technology

• Chapman & Bailey Art Shop

• Chroma Australia

• Derivan

• Dodgy Papers

• Grill'd Swan St Richmond

• Jellis Craig

• Print 2 Metal

• Senior Art Supplies

• Undercover Roasters

• Victorian Artists Supplies

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