Portrait prize entrant Seabastion Toast (left) and Serpentine Gallery’s Corinne Batt-Rawden with Seabastion’s portrait of Darcy Goodwin from the Five Loaves Mobile Soup Kitchen.
Portrait prize entrant Seabastion Toast (left) and Serpentine Gallery’s Corinne Batt-Rawden with Seabastion’s portrait of Darcy Goodwin from the Five Loaves Mobile Soup Kitchen.

Artists at Salon des Refuss

Corinne Batt-Rawden from the Serpentine Gallery said at last year’s Northern Rivers Portrait Prize there was word on the street that artworks not selected as finalists would be exhibited somewhere else, but alas, this was not the case.

However, Corinne took inspiration from that rumour and put it to the gallery committee that perhaps other galleries could exhibition some of the unselected works – hence the birth of this year’s Salon des Refusés.

“There are so many local people represented in this body of work but the Lismore Regional Gallery can only choose and exhibit so many, so we invited any artists who were not selected as finalists to be part of the new Salon des Refusés,” Corinne said.

The Salon des Refusés was first held in Paris in 1863 when being hung in the Paris Salon was a matter of survival for many artists. Paris was the art capital of the world and the Paris Salon was a make or break exhibition for artists, with careers and reputations on the line based solely upon acceptance or rejection.

That year artists protested the Salon jury’s rejection of more than 3000 works, far more than usual, and Emperor Napoleon III decreed the rejected artists could exhibit their works in an annex to the regular Salon. At first ridiculed by critics, it still received critical attention and began to legitimise emerging avant garde art, and by the 1870s many of the Impressionists were exhibiting their work in the Refusés.

This year in conjunction with the Northern Rivers Portrait Prize both the Serpentine Gallery in North Lismore and Armistead’s Gallery in Wyrallah Road will exhibit works and artists like Seabastion Toast, whose portrait of Darcy Goodwin didn’t make the final cut, are very glad to see their work will still grace the walls of a gallery.

“We are hoping this will also become an exciting part of the arts calendar each year and, if the response is strong, we’d like to include more galleries next year and have a cash prize People’s Choice Award for the public’s favourite unselected work,” Corinne said. “There’s been such a positive response to the portrait prize and it’s actually quite exciting to have an artists-run gallery (Serpentine), a commercial gallery (Armistead’s) and the Lismore Regional Gallery all working together in partnership to reflect and acknowledge our local artists.

“There’s no competition, we all have slightly different roles to perform, and I think together we can have a wonderful partnership that really strengthens and nurtures our arts community.”

The Salon des Refusés will be held at Serpentine Art Gallery from Friday, April 29 until June 3, with a special opening on Friday, April 29, at 6pm, the night before the Northern Rivers Portrait Prize opens at the Lismore Regional Gallery. Works will also be on show at Armistead’s Gallery from Saturday, April 30 until May 28.

The Serpentine is still keen to hear from entrants who would like to exhibit or businesses that would be interested in sponsoring the People’s Choice Award for 2012. For more information phone Corinne on 6621 6845 and leave a message if unattended.


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