CAN REJECTION BE A LAUNCHING PAD FOR SUCCESS?


HYLAND'S FLAT 2116Recently I entered two major Australian art prizes with coloured pencil drawings. In order to qualify one had to submit images of their work along with the usual written entry requirements that included an artist’s statement. A selection committee assesses the value of the work and selects an appropriate number which in turn are submitted for display and final judging. I failed to impress both committees with my entries. This isn’t the first time, but I can’t complain, having been selected on 3 occasions in two major Australian art prizes. Why bother?

I know that some of my friends who enter these awards get extremely upset when their work is rejected. Some take it very hard, others are more philosophical. Over the years I have reacted in both ways, but I have come to realise that it’s not a rejection; there simply was work considered better than yours entered. The more entries, the less chance one has. This can either kill your enthusiasm, or spur you on to try again, and again, and again.

I’m not a fan of art prizes that don’t see the finished, framed work at the selection stage. Seeing the real thing has to be a better way than printed or electronic images. I would also like to see that every entrant successful or not, receive a critique on their work. I know that this is a big ask, but I think it would greatly help artists, especially those whose work was rejected.

I entered two large drawings in this year’s Glover Art prize. One is titled “Hyland’s Flat 2116” – 92 x 132 cms, Coloured pencil on pastel board.

A century has passed since irrigation came to the Midlands region of Tasmania. For the previous 2 centuries farming was tough, the climate unforgiving and managing the land proved to be beyond the patience of many.

Hyland’s Flat, just south of Conara, has been farmed since the early 1800s. This near-barren wasteland scarred by sheep trails, where the only long-term survivors are a group of pine trees that have stood defiant since their planting in the first half of the twentieth century. This area of land has always been a challenging farming proposition.

The introduction of an irrigation scheme in 2015 brought a complete change in land management and in farming methods. Water, that most precious natural commodity was now available in abundance! This has resulted in all manner of crops being planted, many alien to the Conara region.

The years that followed saw continual cycles of success and failure as farmers sought to find crops that were economically viable in a climate that was noticeably warming. The land became a circus of trial and error, as crop after crop was planted in the quest for economic sustainability. The result? One can only speculate.

Should we seek to ‘tame’ the landscape, however barren and ‘unproductive’ it’s perceived to be, in search of an economic windfall?

What will the resulting impact of new crops and farming methods be on such a landscape?

The once straw-coloured land has now become a carnival of cameo colours, shapes and mark making. Is this resulting agricultural quilt simply farming folly, or the beginnings of a brave new Tasmanian landscape?

Richard

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About artkleko

artist, art curator, art teacher, art judge, art critic
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8 Responses to CAN REJECTION BE A LAUNCHING PAD FOR SUCCESS?

  1. Thanks for sharing your entry and comments, Richard. It makes for interesting reading. The work is strong and would be different from others so beats me why it is not hung…. except that they had a record number of entries and when you take out the “regulars”, there are not that many spots left. I finally entered the Glover this year…. first time…. but my work was rejected….. probably too traditional anyway. To me it made my statement perfectly. The point of yours that I really wish would be implemented is feedback…. but we are teachers so that is what we do. It is hard to make the effort to enter again when one does not have any feedback. I may put mine and artists statement on my blog.

    • artkleko says:

      Thanks, Evelyn, and do post your work and its statement on your blog. Artists whose work was rejected should share their entries with the hope of receiving some constructive feedback.

  2. Edna says:

    It is interesting with art prizes that there are three outcomes. First is the choice of finalists’ work from digital and photo images made by a small group of selected people. What do they see and what are they looking for would be good feedback from them. Then there is the winning entry chosen from viewing the actual works hung. Finally there is the People’s Choice Award – rarely the one chosen by the selected judges.

  3. This is always an interesting question Richard – I do enter art prizes, but am judicious about which ones I choose to enter. The odds of being hung when 1000 people enter are enough to put me off! And I do know that it isn’t necessarily a comment saying the work is ‘bad’ if it is rejected, sometimes it simply doesn’t connect with the judges, or fit with other works. Choosing the ones to enter carefully gives one the best chance I think – I have seen people post rejected works on social media, alongside ones that were accepted saying ‘look at the rubbish they selected, and rejected mine’. In those cases often the rejected work clearly isn’t the type of work the judges were looking for, a good example of choosing the right competitions to enter!

  4. PS I love the work you show above!

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