Feature | Byron Arts Magazine
The BAM Art Prize is currently open and we’re counting down to the exhibition in November at NRCG. What was the winning artwork from the previous prize?
The 2018 BAM Art Prize was won by Helle Jorgensen, a Northern Rivers artist whose work, 50 Shapes, was a collection of delicate shapes intricately woven from discarded plastic bags and entomological pins. It was a very unique work. There were several Highly Commended awards that went to local artists Michael Cusack, Leora Sibony, Gregory Furney, and Rob Olver. Some of the entrants from the last prize went on to be invited to hold their first exhibitions at major regional galleries. Even if not awarded, all entries are viewed by significant figures in the arts industry, the judges. And then there is the exposure in the magazine for the shortlisted works. So, it’s a great opportunity in multiple ways.
Describe your experience managing the impacts of COVID-19 and how this has impacted publication?
BAM has experienced a surge in subscriptions during the COVID-19 crisis. I assume this is because many people are eager to take their eyes away from screens as work has increasingly moved online, and in-the-home. Our winter 2020 issue features content that responds to this topic and, I hope, brings readers some beauty and relief during these times. Our contributors and staff work mostly independently and often from home, so a transition to Zoom-only production meetings wasn’t too dramatic for us.
What are some of the publication’s new digital initiatives arising from these impacts?
BAM will always remain primarily a boutique, print publication, but we are expanding our digital content to include material from new contributors, as well as to archive and publish the fantastic content that we’ve run in the magazine over the years. We’d like this to be widely viewable, at any time. The digital platform also allows us to share new partnerships as they develop, both within the arts industry — such as with Sydney Contemporary Art Fair — as well as organisations that align with our company ethos, such as WWF and Tjanpi Desert Weavers. We like to harness some of the visibility of the BAM platform to highlight the important work that others are doing, whether it be in the arts, or social/environmental initiatives. This will continue to develop as the magazine evolves organically.
BAM has developed some incredible content in response to the topical issues currently surrounding us – how has the publication approached these responses?
Our general guiding principle is to approach topics from the angle of a ‘way forward’. In our winter 2020 issue, we have 10 artists who submitted work responding to the social distancing and isolation resulting from this crisis. The responses are varied, as are our individual experiences and reactions to the crisis — be they humorous, whimsical, practical, or conveying a sense of longing. Hopefully, these types of features help us to process our own internalisation of the current circumstances, as well as give a sense of solidarity as we move forward.
Q&A with Byron Arts Magazine Editor, Alana Wilson.
Image: Michael Cusack, North Field, 2018, oil on canvas, 39 x 50 cm.