As part of their 20th anniversary celebrations, Gekko Systems have commissioned 3 new significant artworks that will continue the long tradition of recording the history of the Ballarat goldfields in art.

Since opening their first office in Ballarat in 1996, Gekko have evolved to become a global leader in the mining industry. During that time, the company has proudly supported a wide range of community projects; so it is only fitting they sponsor a project that celebrates the rich visual history of mining in one of Australia’s oldest mining towns.

Submissions were open to all Australian artists using any form of 2D or 3D media, and the range and quality of the works received were truly superb. After much consideration, selectors were delighted award the commissions to the following 3 unique artists.

Marlene Gilson’s painting that won her the People’s Choice Award at the 2015 Victorian Indigenous Art Awards.

The finalists

AUNTY MARLENE GILSON

Wadawurrung elder Aunty Marlene Gilson is a self-taught artist, who discovered painting later in life. Her works are based around the stories of her people and their ancestral land – which encompasses a wide area including Ballarat, Geelong and the Otway Ranges.

Gilson’s paintings show scenes of traditional ceremonies, cultural practices and daily life from both pre and post-colonial times. They document stories of the early gold miners and events such as the Eureka Stockade from the perspective of her people.

ASH KEATING

Ash Keating is a Melbourne-born visual artist. His works encompass a broad range of media including painting, installations and performance art. His art is often very site-specific and reflect the textures and colours of the surrounding environment.

One of Keating’s ambitious ‘endurance painting’ projects involved using fire extinguishers to spray paint a giant mural on the wall of the National Gallery of Victoria as part of the Melbourne Now exhibition in 2013.

JOSH MUIR

Josh Muir has achieved a lot in his relatively new life as a visual artist. He is a Ballarat local of Gunditjamara – Yorta heritage and had troubling periods of depression, anxiety and drug dependency as a teenager.

Muir’s vibrant, contemporary paintings reflect his experiences with mental health issues and also allow him to acknowledge and pay respect to his ancestral past. He is very active within the Ballarat community and has contributed work to celebrations commemorating the 160th anniversary of the Eureka Stockade.

The prize

Each of the 3 artists have been awarded a $5,000 commission to create a contemporary response to existing paintings, prints, photographs, sculptures, writings and other objects relating to the history of gold mining in Ballarat.

The artists have until 30 July to complete their works and have them ready to be photographed prior to exhibition. The public will be able to view the final artworks at Mitchell Harris, on Doveton Street in Ballarat where the exhibition opens on 18 August.

All artworks will be reproduced on postcards giving the artists wonderful exposure and giving the public the chance to take home a memory of the exciting new works.

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