Guyana visual arts competition 2017

Jorge Bowenforbes, Observers, Shortlisted for Painting, 2014

We present an article on the fine arts, reviewing the Guyana Visual Arts Competition and Exhibition which was revived in 2012. It is the major national competition in the visual arts in Guyana covering the field in six categories and followed by an exhibition of the work at the National Gallery in Castellani House.  Entries for this year’s competition are open and interested artists are being asked to submit their work by May 27, 2017.
Alim Hosein is an artist, a linguist, a literary and art critic who has been the Dean of the Faculty of Education and Humanities at the University of Guyana. He has also been Head of Language and Cultural Studies there as well as a member of the Guyana Prize for Literature Management Committee.

By Alim Hosein

The Guyana Visual Arts Competition and Exhibition (GVACE) enjoyed two highly successful iterations in 2012 and 2014. Launched in July 2012 after the absence of the National Exhibition of the Visual Arts, which had ceased in 1994, the GVACE brought back an important nation-wide art competition to Guyana.

Jorge Bowenforbes, Observers, Shortlisted for Painting, 2014

The first GVAVE in 2012 attracted 204 entries from 90 artists, and the second, 232 entries from 99 artists. While painting, drawing and sculpture, as expected, were the popular categories, photography and fine craft (a new category introduced in 2014) did surprisingly well. Photography in particular, both in the number and quality of the entries, showed that it was a becoming a strong art in Guyana. The interesting development in this genre was that it was not the usual portrait photography, but serious, engaged observations and interpretations of the Guyanese landscape, people and life.

Another pleasing aspect of the GVACE has been the range of artists who have entered. The competition allows artists from as young as 16 years to enter, but the spread of the entrants has been pleasantly surprising. Both men and women of all ages, from different regions of Guyana, various occupations and walks of life, submitted entries of high quality.

Also, while the competition attracted the major artists, they did not have their own way as some expected. The young and upcoming artists held their own. These included: Shimuel Jones (shortlisted for Painting in 2012, and winner of the Promise Award in 2014), Akima McPherson (Judges’ Special Award in 2012 and 2014), Aneeza Coelho (Promise Award in 2012), Michael Griffith (winner in Drawing in 2012 and 2014), Fidal Bassier (winner in Photography in 2014), Nicholas Young (winner in Ceramics in 2014),  Roshinee Latchana (second prize in Photography, 2014), Dominique Hunter (second prize in Painting, 2014), Carol Fraser (winner, Fine Craft, 2014) and Paloma Bristol (second prize in Ceramics, 2014) among others.

2017 Competition

Fidal Bassier, Man in the Street, Photography Winner, 2014

The next judging of the GVACE will be held at the end of June this year. Artists can submit artwork that was produced between November 15, 2014 and May 27, 2017.

Entries for the competition will be open from May 2, 2017 and close at 3 pm on May 27, 2017.   Entries must be submitted to the National Gallery of Art, Castellani House, Vlissengen Road and Homestretch Avenue.

The GVACE 2017 will again be judged in the six categories: Painting, Drawing, Sculpture, Ceramics, Photography, and Fine Craft. There are no themes or categories in the competition, but the judges will look for a high degree of imagination and originality, use of materials and quality of execution in the entries in each of these categories.

Once again, artists will continue to have the opportunity of submitting up to three pieces overall, either in one category or in different categories – eg, two paintings and one piece of sculpture; or three paintings; or any combination of three pieces of work. Those who wish to can submit one piece alone.

The organisers also plan to continue the special events surrounding the exhibition. There will be workshops and master-classes for artists, while the public is invited to the Awards Ceremony, public lectures, and of course, the exhibition.

As usual, the GVACE will present a generous array of prizes, including substantial cash awards. Awards will be given for the first, second and third prizes in each of the six categories. The first prize is worth $500,000 and a gold medal; the second prize, $300,000 and a silver medal, and the third prize $200,000 and a bronze medal. There will also be the Promise Award for an up-coming young artist (25 years or younger) which carries prize money of $200,000 and a gold medal.

 Entry requirements

The Guyana Visual Arts Competition and Exhibition is open all artists who are 16 years and older and who are Guyanese by birth or naturalisation. Of course, proof of citizenship will be required.

All artists are therefore asked to submit two good passport-sized photos, and to fill out some simple forms which ask for information about themselves, their artwork and their backgrounds.  These pictures and information will also be used to build a database of Guyanese artists.

These forms may be obtained from the E R Burrowes School of Art, Carifesta Avenue or the National Gallery of Art, Castellani House. Persons in the outlying regions can download them from the Ministry of Education’s website The rules of the competition can also be obtained from these sources.

The GVACE has been making efforts to be a successful competition. Apart from the panel of five judges from Guyana and overseas and the large exhibition of work, it also includes various  educational activities for local artists, including workshops and master classes and a fine Awards Ceremony designed to lift the status of our artists.


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