Ten years ago when we launched the Basil Sellers Art Prize, a project that brought together two great passions of
mine, art and sport, we could never have anticipated how enthusiastically it would be embraced by Australia’s most talented artists, as well as by an audience that continued
to grow in size and diversity with each iteration of the
Prize. Looking back on the five exhibitions, I marvel at the exceptional work that has been presented by artists from around the country; it is testament to the strong connections between art and sport.
From its inception, the Prize aimed to support contemporary artists in the creation of ambitious new artworks, with the winning artist awarded a prize of $100,000. For many years the richest prize in the country, the Basil Sellers Art Prize was able to make a significant difference to the life and career of the recipient. In addition, one finalist of each Prize was awarded $50,000 and the opportunity to undertake a National Sports Museum Basil Sellers Creative Arts Fellowship at the MCG.
I am delighted that the touring exhibition Play On: The art of sport will enable audiences throughout Australia to enjoy works from all five instalments of the Basil Sellers Art Prize. The exhibition brings together rich and diverse explorations of the personal and collective significance of sport and sporting culture.
I would like to commend the team at the Ian Potter Museum
of Art for their commitment and hard work, which saw the Prize go from strength to strength. In particular, I would like to thank Director Kelly Gellatly for her enthusiasm and support for the Prize and the development of the tour, former director Dr Chris McAuliffe for his contributions to the establishment of the Prize, and the team at NETS Victoria for their management of the touring exhibition.
Most importantly, I thank all the applicants and finalists who participated in the Prize over the past 10 years, including the winning artists Daniel Crooks (2008), Tarryn Gill and Pilar Mata Dupont (2010), Jon Campbell (2012), Tony Albert (2014) and Richard Lewer (2016). It is thanks to their insights and talents that the Prize has been so successful in building an appreciation for the strong connections between art and sport.
I hope you enjoy Play On: The art of sport as much as I have enjoyed supporting the Prize over the past decade.
‘Looking back on the five exhibitions, I marvel at the exceptional work that has been
presented by artists from around the country; it is testament to the strong connections between art and sport.’
Director, NETS Victoria
NETS Victoria is pleased to partner with the Ian Potter Museum of Art to present Play On: The art of sport.
This exhibition brings together 10 years of contemporary art commissions on the subject of sport and sporting culture, highlighting works from the Basil Sellers Art Prize, which ran from 2008 to 2016. This Prize was one of Australia’s richest and most prestigious art awards and now, with this tour, these key works are to be shared with a national audience.
NETS Victoria is passionate about connecting audiences with contemporary art, and this tour is no exception. The themes and concepts behind many of the works appeal to
a broad audience, potentially inspiring some sports lovers who have never before thought about venturing into a public gallery. The Basil Sellers Art Prize spanned the space between art and sport, connecting people from both camps and allowing them to come together in mutual appreciation. We barrack for all teams – both in the arts and on the sporting ground.
To borrow from the language of sports commentators,
this tour was a big team effort with incredibly dedicated players. At NETS Victoria, we see our role as one of enabling skillsharing between curators and arts workers from all over Victoria and Australia. The behind-the-scenes activities involved in the development of a touring exhibition build relationships and learnings that go beyond a single tour. Touring exhibitions allow regional arts workers to apprehend new ways of thinking and new models of engagement. This is very much a two-way process, with touring-exhibition curators and artists gaining a deeper understanding of regional audiences and how they can further engage
Touring exhibitions also share works with new audiences and introduce them to artists that they may be unfamiliar with. Over the last 20 years we have toured more than 70 exhibitions to more than 370 destinations. We have shared these exhibitions with more than two million people since the early 1990s, helping to build audiences and capacity for our regional venues.
Play On: The art of sport premieres at Hazelhurst Regional Gallery and Arts Centre before touring to an additional six venues across Australia. We truly are sharing our nation’s love of sport and art with those far and wide. I would like to thank the team at the Ian Potter Museum of Art for their assistance in this tour and my wonderful team at NETS Victoria who travel throughout Australia to ensure audiences see the best exhibitions possible.
A special thank you goes to Basil Sellers AM for his generosity and support for the arts in Australia.