Footscray Art Prize

The Footscray Art Prize is a new visual art prize, open to local and national artists.

Entries will reopen at the end of 2018. 

Mumu Mike Williams wins the inaugural Footscray Art Prize

Pitjantjatjara artist Mumu Mike Williams has claimed the top prize in the inaugural Footscray Art Prize for his painting on Australia Post canvas mailbags.

His winning work, Postbag Painting, was chosen from more than 800 entries from across Australia and awarded a $10,000 cash prize.

Williams said he chose to use mailbags - which are Commonwealth Government property - as his painting surface in a bold statement about ownership and the conflict between Commonwealth law and Anangu lore.

Williams grew up around Pukatja, South Australia. He is a traditional Ngangkari healer and currently lives in the Northern Territory.

“I live in a very remote part of Australia where mail is delivered by plane twice a week. The bags are used for everything in my community, but after I started painting on them, the deeper meanings became more and more apparent,” he said.

His decision to repurpose canvas postbags as artwork occurred as a “happy accident” after he first used the bags to trace a map printed on them. Postbag Painting uses acrylic paint, as well as kulata (traditionally-made spear), Punu (wood), malu pulyku (kangaroo tendon), and kiti (resin from spinifex grass).

The Footscray Art Prize, a unique collaboration between Victoria University, Maribyrnong City Council, Footscray Community Arts Centre (FCAC), and the Rotary Club of Footscray, offered a total of $17,500 in cash and voucher prizes.

Judge Jason Smith, Director of Geelong Gallery, said picking a winner was tough among the “stunning quality” of entries. Thirty-two works were shortlisted from entries spanning photography, video, paintings, sculpture and street art.

“Prizes are wonderful because we get to see an incredible cross-section of contemporary art, but the horrible reality is there is only one recipient – no winner – just a recipient,” Smith said.

Nonetheless, Williams’ work was a stand-out to which the five judges kept returning, he said.

“Its particular form of poetry and politics, the way in which this artist manipulated the material to give us visual pleasure, to be extraordinarily thought-provoking, to remind us … we must love the place in which we live,” Smith said.

VU Vice-Chancellor Professor Peter Dawkins said the Footscray Art Prize is an important contribution in building a vibrant and creative Footscray University Town.

Footscray Art Prize Winners

Footscray Art Prize winner (main prize)
Mumu Mike Williams, Postbag Painting, 2017
Street Art Prize winner
Heesco, Miss Citizen of the World, 2017
(on display Bldg D, Victoria University Nicholson Campus)
Tertiary Art Prize winner
Mohsen Meysami, Their Pain, Our Gain, 2017
Young Artist winner (13-17 years)
Jaina Zheng, Estranged, 2017
Young Artist winner (12 years and under)
Cathy Tran, Decorated Pot, 2017

About the Footscray Art Prize

The Footscray Art Prize is a biennial non-acquisitive visual art prize for contemporary artworks across multiple platforms and disciplines.

The Prize was established in 2016 as part of the Victoria University Centenary celebrations with:

It contributes to Footscray's reputation as a thriving cultural hub that supports and fosters the arts, and provides an opportunity to celebrate this artistic vibrancy and creativity.

How to enter

The Footscray Art Prize is a biennial prize. Entries reopen at the end of 2018. 

View the Terms & Conditions for the 2017 Footscray Art Prize:

2017 Judges

Jason Smith, Director – Geelong Gallery

Jason Smith is the Director of Geelong Gallery, one of Australia’s oldest and most important regional galleries. He was previously Curatorial Manager of Australian Art at the Queensland Art Gallery / Gallery of Modern Art, where he led the Australian art team’s delivery of projects by 17 Australian indigenous and non-indigenous artists for the 8th Asia Pacific Triennial of Contemporary Art (the most Australian artists ever included in an APT).

Jason’s other previous roles include the Director and CEO of Heide Museum of Modern Art, where he led the acclaimed reinvigoration of the Museum’s artistic program. Previously he was Director of Monash Gallery of Art, which holds an outstanding collection of Australian photography, and the Curator of Contemporary Art at the National Gallery of Victoria.

He has individually and collaboratively curated 45 solo, group and thematic exhibitions including major retrospectives of the works of Howard Arkley, Peter Booth, Louise Bourgeois, Gwyn Hanssen Pigott, Stephen Benwell and Kathy Temin. He has written on the works of more than 150 artists for a range of publications.

Beverly Knight, Executive Director – Alcaston Gallery

Beverly Knight is a successful self-employed multi-business manager. Over many years, Knight’s achievements have included Board Directorships, Governance and Industry Reference groups associated with Hospitality, Property, Sport and the Arts. Presently, Knight's primary interest and expertise lies in the Arts, though she is often sought in other industries for her business acumen and experience.

As Founding Director of Alcaston Gallery since 1989, Beverly Knight has helped establish and foster the successful careers of now celebrated artists. She has also been pivotal in the development and planning of many art centres that are now established arts hubs for artists across the country. Knight's passion and talent lies in finding pathways for artists - leading to their financial security, and both national and international recognition. Well-travelled, especially across remote Australia and overseas, Knight has an excellent knowledge of current issues facing artists generally.

Across her long career, she has become renowned for her keen eye for emerging artists, which is now reflected in the history of artists she has represented, and the collection of their oeuvres in significant archives and museum collections. 

Reko Rennie, Australian artist

Reko Rennie is an interdisciplinary artist who grew up in Footscray and who explores his Aboriginal identity through contemporary media. Through his art, Rennie provokes discussion surrounding Indigenous culture and identity in contemporary urban environments.

Largely autobiographical, his commanding works combine the iconography of his Kamilaroi heritage with stylistic elements of graffiti. Rennie merges traditional diamond-shaped designs, hand-drawn symbols and repetitive patterning to subvert romantic ideologies of Aboriginal identity.

Richard Ennis, Curator Exhibition Programs – Incinerator Gallery

Richard Ennis has over 15 years experience working in all facets of the arts industry. After doing postgraduate work in art history, he worked in Melbourne’s auction rooms as head of art at Leonard Joel and as an art specialist at Deutscher and Hackett.

In 2011 he began as the exhibition programmer at the Incinerator Gallery in Moonee Ponds, a venue owned and run by the City of Moonee Valley. He has spent the last five years developing this venue and creating new audiences for visual art in Melbourne’s North West. He has spent time on the board of Kings Artist Run in Melbourne’s CBD and he has a passion for working with emerging and midcareer artists.

Simon Spain, Australian artist and creative producer

Simon Spain is a strong believer in the transformative power of art. His personal work reflects his own story and his work with the community, particularly his 30 years work running engaging arts programming for children and families, and demonstrates his commitment to providing an opportunity for everyone to be affected by the power of art.

Simon trained as a printmaker in the UK and travelled across the world as an artist and presenter before settling in Australia just over twelve years ago. Simon established ArtPlay, an arts Centre for children and families in the heart of Melbourne, and is considered one of Australia’s experts in arts for children and families. Simon shows his work regularly and is fascinated with the challenge of bringing new and traditional technologies together to make art.

Simon will be judging the Young Artists Prize.


The Footscray Art Prize is a collaboration between:

It was initiated as part of the Victoria University Centenary celebrations in 2016.


The Street Art Prize is proudly sponsored by Cheaper Buy Miles.

The Tertiary Art Prize is proudly sponsored by Footscray Plaza. 

Contact Details

For further information please contact:

Project and Administration Officer, Victoria University

Phone: +61 3 9919 6209