Skip to content

Dobell Prize for Drawing (discontinued)

The annual Dobell Prize aimed to encourage excellence in drawing and draughtsmanship among Australian artists.

Held annually from 1993 to 2012, it was initiated by the Art Gallery of NSW and the trustees of the Sir William Dobell Art Foundation (established from the estate of Australian artist William Dobell).

Each year the foundation’s trustees invited a guest – often an artist – to judge this open competition, and finalists were displayed in an exhibition at the Gallery. The winning work automatically became part of the Gallery’s collection, and over the years a small selection of finalist works were also acquired. Together these form the Dobell Australian Drawing Collection.

What constitutes a drawing was deliberately not outlined in the conditions of entry. This flexible approach ensured a great variety of drawings were submitted, ranging from those made using materials traditionally associated with drawing (pencil, pen and ink, charcoal etc) to those that are part of contemporary practice (including pastel, watercolour and collage).

Changes to the Dobell

The Dobell Drawing Prize 2012 marked the final year of this competition at the Art Gallery of NSW. From 2019, the National Art School in Sydney will host a new approach to the prize. At the Gallery, rather than an open competition, a curated exhibition called the Dobell Australian Drawing Biennial has been presented since 2014.

Explore past winners and finalists