JSN winners

NOW OPEN The Balnaves Foundation John Shaw Neilson Acquisitive Art Prize: $10,000

The John Shaw Neilson Acquisitive Art Prize, is open to all emerging and established artists throughout Australia, and entries must be inspired by the works of this early Penola poet. If you’ve entered before, you already know the rewards that go with being part of this event. For those considering entering for the first time, it really is a wonderful opportunity to be part of a dynamic Festival whilst acknowledging Neilson’s place in Penola’s history.

This year the prize money for the The Balnaves Foundation John Shaw Neilson Acquisitive Art Prize has been increased to $10,000 with the generous sponsorship of The Balnaves Foundation.

For all specifications download the Entry Form

Submission Deadline

Submission Entry Cost
Entry for the John Shaw Neilson is $25 (GST incl) per entry. Maximum entries are TWO per person. For further details please download the entry form.

Winners will be announced
The winner will be announced at the Opening of the Penola Coonawarra Arts Festival. The Opening night is open to the general public. On the opening night we will also announce the winner of the Design Prize.

John Shaw Neilson Acquisitive Art Prize winners

All previous winners winners are exhibited in the Penola Visitor Information Centre Gallery on Arthur Street.

Local Art Prize: $500

To be eligible for the Local Art Prize you must reside permanently in the Limestone Coast. The Local Art Prize of $500 has been donated by local friend and supporter of the Penola Coonawarra Arts Festival, Lois Hodge.

Entires for the 2017 John Shaw Neilson Acquisitive Art Prize will open soon.

Winners will be announced
The winner will be announced at the Opening of the Penola Coonawarra Arts Festival.


If you would like any further information please contact Vicki McDonald at the Penola High School on 08 8737 0000 or email: vicki.mcdonald920@schools.sa.edu.au

About The Balnaves Foundation

The Balnaves Foundation have been generous sponsors of the John Shaw Neilson Acquisitive Art Prize for many years.The Balnaves Foundation is a private philanthropic organisation established in 2006 by Neil Balnaves AO to provide support to charitable enterprises across Australia.

Dispersing over $2.5 million annually, the Foundation supports eligible organisations that aim to create a better Australia through education, medicine and the arts with a focus on young people, the disadvantaged and Indigenous communities. balnavesfoundation.com

John Shaw Neilson (1872-1942)

John Shaw Neilson

Neilson was born on February 22nd, 1872, in a slab hut owned by his parents, John and Margaret (nee McKinnon), on Racecourse Road, Penola. He was the first of six children. He spent the first nine years of his life in Penola, during which time he came to know well the surrounding countryside with its swamps, trees and abundant bird life. He attended the school in Robe Street (now Riddoch Street) for about fifteen months, from 1880 until his parents moved in 1881 to the block they’d selected at Minimay.

In 1885, he briefly resumed his formal education, but left at the age of fourteen to work full-time with his father. From then until 1928, when he moved to Melbourne to work in the office of the Country Road Board, his life was one of unremitting physical toil, personal sorrow, and economic hardship. Family farms in the Wimmera and Mallee Districts of Victoria, were unproductive because of rabbits, mice, drought or fire. Consequently from 1916, Neilson worked as an itinerant labourer until he moved to Melbourne in 1928.Despite these difficulties, Neilson produced the poetry on which his reputation as one of Australia’s most original and important lyric poets, is based.

Three collections were published in his lifetime. Neilson died in Melbourne, in 1942.

Neilson was widely read and well-informed. As is evident from his poetry, autobiography, notebooks and letters, he was an intelligent, perceptive, sensitive, compassionate man. He also had a keen sense of humour. He was influenced by his Scottish heritage and by the strict Presbyterian upbringing of his early years. He wrote about the natural world, particularly birds, and about people of all ages, creeds and social circumstances. He wrote about life and death; joy and sorrow; innocence and experience and love.

AR Chisholm (ed.) Shaw Neilson Selected Poems (Sydney: A&R Modern Poets 1976) Cliff Hanna (ed.) John Shaw Neilson; Poetry, autobiography and correspondence (Brisbane: UQP 1991) Hugh Anderson and Les Blake The Spinning of a Dream: The Story of John Shaw Neilson (Melbourne: Red Rooster Press 1986). Alternatively use an Internet Search Engine.