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John Shaw Neilson Acquisitive Art Prize 2019

John Shaw Neilson Acquisitive Art Prize 2019: $10,000

Deadline: To be sent to Penola High School, 43 Cameron Street, Penola by 4.00pm Friday 10 May 2019.
Entry Fee: $25 per entry


  1. Maximum TWO entries per person
  2. The artwork(s) must be 2D, the subject and inspiration of which, must be gained specifically from the poetry of John Shaw Neilson, and can be created in any 2D medium. The artwork must be PROFESSIONALLY FRAMED/PRESENTED ready for hanging and must be the original work of the artist.
  3. Maximum size of artwork(s): Excluding the mount and frame, THE MAXIMUM AREA FOR AN ARTWORK IS 1 METRE SQUARED. Oversize paintings will not be eligible for judging.
  4. All artworks must have the artist’s name, address, title and price clearly written on the back of the artwork.
  5. Entry fees: John Shaw Neilson Acquisitive Art Prize $25.00 (GST incl.) per entry. Methods of payment accepted are Credit Card/EFTPOS/Cash/Cheque and Money Order (payable to Penola High School). The entry form and fee must accompany the artwork.
  6. Entries Close: 4.00pm Friday 10 May 2019 – LATE ENTRIES WILL NOT BE ACCEPTED OR EXHIBITED
  7. Artworks must be delivered in person or consigned to Penola High School, 43 Cameron Street, Penola SA 5277 by 4.00pm, Friday 10 May 2019.
  8. Artists who require their artwork to be returned via mail or courier must provide labelled return packaging, instructions and payment for the return of art work. All freight and delivery charges incurred are the responsibility of the artist.
  9. PLEASE NOTE: Artworks that have already been entered in this competition from previous years WILL NOT be exhibited.
  10. The Penola Coonawarra Arts Festival Committee reserves the right to refuse any artwork considered unsuitable or does not comply with the terms and conditions.
  11. Winners will be announced at the opening of the Festival. The opening will take place at Penola High School on Thursday 16 May 2019 from 5.30pm
  12. THE WINNING JSN ART ENTRY WILL BECOME THE PROPERTY OF THE PENOLA COONAWARRA ARTS FESTIVAL COMMITTEE. Each year the judging panel will consist of a representative from the Art Gallery of South Australia and a John Shaw Neilson Poetry Historian. The results, as determined by the judges are final, and no discussion will be entered into.
  13. If you do not wish to sell your artwork NFS (Not for Sale) will be placed on your work; however, you will then be ineligible for judging as the JSN Acquisitive Prize is a purchase prize.
  14. 25% Commission + GST will be charged on any work sold.
  15. All artworks must remain displayed until exhibition closing date of 4pm Friday 24 May, 2019; this includes artworks that have been sold.
  16. At the conclusion of the exhibition, artworks must be collected from Penola High School during office hours of 9.00am-4.00pm from Monday 27 May 2019 to Friday 21 June 2019. All works are to be collected during stated times. Works not claimed after 21 June, 2019 shall be determined to be the property of the Penola Coonawarra Arts Festival and to be disposed of as they wish.
  17. To be eligible for the Local Art Prize you must reside permanently within the Limestone Coast.
  18. The Penola Coonawarra Arts Festival Committee will exercise all reasonable care with exhibits submitted, but will not accept responsibility for loss or damage while they are in its custody. All insurance of the artworks is the responsibility of the artist.

Local Art Prize

To be eligible for the Local Art Prize you must reside permanently in the Limestone Coast. The Local Art Prize of $500 has been donated by local friend and supporter of the Penola Coonawarra Arts Festival, Lois Hodge.

About The Balnaves Foundation

The Balnaves Foundation have been generous sponsors of the John Shaw Neilson Acquisitive Art Prize for many years.The Balnaves Foundation is a private philanthropic organisation established in 2006 by Neil Balnaves AO to provide support to charitable enterprises across Australia.

Dispersing over $2.5 million annually, the Foundation supports eligible organisations that aim to create a better Australia through education, medicine and the arts with a focus on young people, the disadvantaged and Indigenous communities.

John Shaw Neilson

John Shaw Neilson

John Shaw Neilson (1872-1942)

Neilson was born on February 22nd, 1872, in a slab hut owned by his parents, John and Margaret (nee McKinnon), on Racecourse Road, Penola. He was the first of six children. He spent the first nine years of his life in Penola, during which time he came to know well the surrounding countryside with its swamps, trees and abundant bird life. He attended the school in Robe Street (now Riddoch Street) for about fifteen months, from 1880 until his parents moved in 1881 to the block they’d selected at Minimay. In 1885, he briefly resumed his formal education, but left at the age of fourteen to work full-time with his father.

From then until 1928, when he moved to Melbourne to work in the office of the Country Road Board, his life was one of unremitting physical toil, personal sorrow, and economic hardship. Family farms in the Wimmera and Mallee Districts of Victoria, were unproductive because of rabbits, mice, drought or fire. Consequently from 1916, Neilson worked as an itinerant labourer until he moved to Melbourne in 1928. Despite these difficulties, Neilson produced the poetry on which his reputation as one of Australia’s most original and important lyric poet is based. Three collections were published in his lifetime. Neilson died in Melbourne, in 1942.


Neilson was widely read and well-informed. As is evident from his poetry, autobiography, notebooks and letters, he was an intelligent, perceptive, sensitive, compassionate man. He also had a keen sense of humour. He was influenced by his Scottish heritage and by the strict Presbyterian upbringing of his early years. He wrote about the natural world, particularly birds, and about people of all ages, creeds and social circumstances. He wrote about life and death; joy and sorrow; innocence and experience and love.


  • AR Chisholm (ed.) Shaw Neilson Selected Poems (Sydney: A&R Modern Poets 1976)
  • Cliff Hanna (ed.) John Shaw Neilson; Poetry, autobiography and correspondence (Brisbane: UQP 1991)
  • Hugh Anderson and Les Blake The Spinning of a Dream: The Story of John Shaw Neilson (Melbourne: Red Rooster Press 1986)
  • Alternatively use an Internet Search Engine

Guidelines for Penola Coonawarra Arts Festival Competitions
The Penola Festival Association Inc. is a voluntary, non-profit organisation, the Festival has a legal status as an incorporated body and undertakes the management of the annual Penola Coonawarra Arts Festival. The association has a committee made up of only volunteers.

The Festival has subcommittees that orchestrate key festival areas, one of which is ‘competitions’. No individual members of a competition subcommittee are able to enter the competition. This enables individual members of the wider committee/s to be permitted to enter such competitions, thus encouraging artists/authors to sit and contribute on the wider volunteer committee.

The purpose of the above guideline is to remove any perceived or real risk of conflict of interest. In further efforts to ensure there is no perceived or real risk and to ensure judging impartiality and credibility the following guidelines apply to all festival competitions.

  • All individual competition terms and conditions are adhered to.
  • Judges will be independent of the Penola Coonawarra Arts Festival.
  • Where there is a sole judge, they will reside outside of the Limestone Coast area.
  • Where there is a judging panel, more than 50% of the judges will reside outside of the Limestone Coast area.
  • All competitions entries are viewed and judged without the disclosure of the artist/author of the works known to the judge. Therefore the judge will have no knowledge of the artist/author until after the judging process is completed.

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