Sydney’s quirkiest art show has turned into a treasure hunt for an Archibald Prize-winning artist’s work, with 3000 pieces from a range of lauded artists going on sale for just $100 each. The twist? None of the works have any names attached.
The Incognito Art Show in Surry Hills, being held this Saturday, isn’t just for art aficionados but a keen eye helps. Especially if you’re looking to scoop up the work of Blak Douglas, who won for his portrait of Karla Dickens.
Professional, emerging and amateur artists from around Australia contributed A5-sized works to the exhibition, but buyers will only find out who made their art after purchasing it.
We’ve got primary school kids who have done work, says co-founder David Liston, who adds that getting artists to sign up wasn’t rocket science. We started an Instagram page and started sending messages to the artists we knew and loved.
The artworks haven’t just come from established visual artists: musician Megan Washington and actor Claudia Karvan have also contributed.
The show’s unique format means buyers can pick up to three artworks for $100 each, based purely on the look of a piece. And they can feel good about doing it, too: the money raised from the sales will be donated to , a company that supports artists with intellectual disabilities to create art and remove barriers that get in their way.
They’re brilliant artists, but sometimes have difficulty getting their art out there, says painter Laura Jones, who co-founded the event. I thought that there was a beautiful kind of simpatico between the organisations.
Liston and his brother Ed, along with Jones, were inspired to create the show in Sydney after seeing similar iterations in Ireland, Britain and the US.
[Jones] and my brother thought it was a good idea, we got a couple of friends on board . . . and we started it last year, Liston says.
We [thought] we’d consider it a success if we got 100 artworks back, he says of which began just before Sydney’s 2021 lockdown. That year they received 1600 contributions, and it’s nearly doubled this year, with more than 3000 artworks on show.
The co-founders designed the show with the goals of increasing the exposure of emerging artists, financially supporting organisations that look after artists, and removing barriers to buying art.
For those eager to nab a beautiful bargain, Jones has some advice: gravitate towards the things you love.
Once you turn the artwork over and find out who the artist is, it could be the beginning of a love story. [You] could get to know that artist, look them up, and . . . be part of that artist’s journey.
And if you’re searching for Blak Douglas’ work? Well, It’s going to be pretty obvious, Douglas admits. (Look for the recurring motif in his art. )
The show’s organisers are encouraging potential buyers to pick out a wishlist of paintings in advance, and select them through . With the advice comes a warning: it’s first in, best dressed. And there’s probably going to be competition.
The Incognito Art Show is open at 2 Lacey St, Surry Hills, from 8am-6. 30pm on Saturday, June 18.
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