CAS Inc. Annual Exhibition 2023

Gallery 314, 314 Church St, Richmond

10 - 24 September

Review by Yvonne Torrico

Published 25/9/2023


 It was that time again when we look forward to the Contemporary Art Society Annual Exhibition, and what a joyous occasion it was. A room full of art lovers, artists and friends mingling together in appreciation of all things art. 116 entries by 60 entrants, 115 Works On Paper, 160+ Artists Cards. Wow!

The spirit of the Contemporary Art Society never ceases to amaze, as it is democratic and inclusive of all art styles and genres. Where would we be if we did not have this historic group with which to exhibit and connect? A group that has survived and grown for 85 years. Surely a record for any artist organisation.

Gallery 314 is an impressive building, with high ceilings and ample space for hanging the assortment of paintings in this show. It’s a difficult to hang a show of such different styles so they work together and this one certainly worked, with large paintings balancing small, and colours and patterns enhancing each other. Every work was wonderful, and if there was the space here all works would get a mention. Many people present at the opening were happy to come back another day to peruse the exhibition at a leisurely pace.

There was a forged steel sculpture, Stepping Out by Paul Cacioli. Paul loves making birds and this is quite evident in this ibis. Its huge feet balancing the graceful body. Another bronze sculpture of a bird, titled “Great Day” by Aukje Van Vark made us chuckle at this cheeky flier, with its blue-feathered shawl ready to take on a new day with panache. Contrast these with the large canvas hung on the back wall. Sgt Pipers lonesome Heart Club Band by Nick Scholes. Those of us that are Beatles fans will recognise the title of this colourful acrylic painting, the organic brushstrokes giving a rhythm and joy to the images that populate the composition.

Not many photographs feature in the CAS exhibitions, so it was great to see this work, Little Angel by Mandy Hopkins is a delicate and thoughtful image that “represents the innocence we reconnect with in times of emotional need”. The image features a young child looking on, mesmerized at the droplets of water running down a windowpane. One that surely takes us back to our own childhood when the world was full of awe and wonder.

Other interesting mediums included a handmade concertina book by Gail Stiffe, inspired by the Yarra, a cyanotype embellished with stitching and collage. The tactile nature of the paper must surely be handmade.

“Brutish” by Theo Petrie, uses timber, plastic and nails. This work referencing the Art Brut movement deserved more than a passing glance, and its partner alongside featuring more nails suspended in a frame. …………. And so many more that deserve mentioning if there was space.

It was an honour to have Mr Asher Bilu as the judge of paintings. Born in Tel Aviv in 1936, Asher Bilu is an Australian artist who creates paintings, sculptures and installations. He has also contributed to several films by Director Paul Cox as production designer. He began his career as an artist soon after arriving in Australia in 1956 and has kept going exhibiting in his later years which is a salutary lesson for all of us. Just do it!

Prize-Winners, received generous prizes from our sponsors (see sponsor-list below). It's enough to say that every artist that took part is a winner!

1st prize $2,550
#43 Soo Swan Go,
Our Heart's Innermost Recess
Judge’s note: A very special work. Fabulous painting technique and meticulously executed. Dynamic and moving between heaven and earth, the painting draws you in so that you make your own story.

2nd prize $1,803
Carmel O’Connor, Townhouses, Melbourne
Judge’s note: Here is suburbia in all its glory. Very innovative use of techniques, materials and subject matter.

3rd prize $1,083
Winner: #112 Bruce Webb,
Fairground Attraction
Judge’s note: Wonderful composition, lovely play of perspective, cleverly handled. Dimensionality is very strong.

4th Prize $700
Winner: #65 Joy Elizabeth Lea, The circus is in town
Judge’s note:
Wonderful example of abstract expressionism, and movement like a dance.

5th Prize $200
#87 Robyn Pridham,
Judge’s note: Beautiful example of a collage, cleverly executed

Judges’ encouragement award $350
Winner: #61 Jon Lam
Road to St. Kilda
Judge’s note: A clever and lovely play on perspective

Special prize for innovative use of materials $1,250
Winner: #68 Robert Lee
Icon for an Industrial Era
Judge’s note: Exraordinary use of found objects, including utilising natural greening of copper, and leaving the wood background untouched - “turning shit into gold”. Use of symmetry.

Highly Commended: #30 Shirley Dougan,
A Quiet-Coloured Sight
Judge’s note: Exquisitly painted, tried to introduce other elements into it. It’s like a dream. Beautiful colours.

Highly Commended: #105 Stefan Twaine-Wood,
Delightful Arrangement (DA)
Judge’s note: Seeing through a window from a different perspective.

Highly Commended: #113 Bruce Webb, Trying to Connect
Judge’s note; Successful composition and balance, beautiful.

And the biggest prize goes to all of the entrants who worked solidly in their studios come rain, hail or shine in the cause of art, which is an international language, understood by all!

The Contemporary Art Society of Victoria Inc. would like to acknowledge the work done by its Members and Friends in the many tasks involved in holding the Annual Exhibition 2023.

  • Exhibition Curator & Coordinator: Robert Lee.
  • Catalogue Editor: Robert Lee.
  • Data entry: Fred Fair & Cressida Fox.
  • Exhibition Hanging Committee: Yukiko Abe-Kruithof, Thalia Andrews, Tim Archer, Howard Brandenburg, Farimah Eshraghi, Karen Foley, Max Foley, Analiese Fort, Cressida Fox, Susan Gustafson, Van Phu Le, Robert Lee, Gail Stiffe, Stefan Twaine-Wood
  • Exhibition Photography: Fred Fair and Robert Lee.
  • Website: Fred Fair.

We gratefully acknowledge our Sponsors: 

  • Adara Hotels
  • Art Almana
  • Art Boards Australia
  • Art Stretchers / Art Spectrum
  • Arthouse Direct
  • Biggin & Scott
  • Chapman & Bailey Art Shop
  • Chroma Australia P/L
  • Deans Art
  • Derivan Pty Ltd
  • Grill'd Swan St Richmond
  • Hydrocryl (Aust) Pty Ltd
  • Micador Australia
  • Officeworks Vermont South
  • Senior Art Supplies
  • The Art Shop Bayswater
  • Uniting Church Richmond
  • Zart Art Box Hill


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