Inaugural Queenscliff Art Prize gets pier approval

September 9, 2021 BY

Brothers Chris and Adam Macleod spent much of their childhood holidaying with family in Queenscliff and one of their fondest memories was jumping off the pier.

Now they are taking a different kind of leap in that same location by bringing a large outdoor art prize exhibition to the township which will hang on aluminium panels from the pier’s railings.

Chris, whose background is in high-end magazine publishing, said 80 artists from around Australia – including a handful of local artists – had been invited to enter the inaugural Queenscliff Art Prize, with all entries to be displayed from November 1, 2021 until May 1, 2022.

Some of the local artists involved include Wadawurrung man Billy-Jay O’Toole of Torquay and Wiradjuri woman Jessi Rebel who works on Wadawurrung County in Ocean Grove.

Torquay artist Billy-Jay O’Toole is among the talented creatives whose work will be displayed on the pier.


Chris said a judging panel would decide the major winner and emerging artist prizes, with the hope of a people’s choice also being awarded.

He said Parks Victoria recently approved the permits for the COVIDSafe outdoor exhibition and, while the process had taken many months, he was relieved to be moving forward.

“Given the ongoing lockdowns it has been a great project to work on,” Chris said.

This artwork work by Caroline Healey is among the 80 to be on exhibition at the pier between November 1, 2021 and May 1, 2022.


“When you think about it, the pier is almost structurally made as an exhibition space.

“You walk along it, it’s easy access for everyone, it is almost connected to the main street and the handrail just seems to be the perfect framing structure to put some art up.

“I’ll put it on the southern side so the backdrop will be Shortland Bluff and The Heads.

“I’ve done some mock-ups and they look amazing.”

Chris Macleod at Queenscliff Pier.


The art prize is being co-ordinated by Chris and Adam, who run Media Ink in Donvale, and they hope it will breathe life into the area and attract a substantial number of visitors.

“Sculptures by the Sea in Bondi apparently attracts half a million people a year and the Lorne Sculpture Biennale, which I think only had 30 works, that over a three-week period attracted 70,000 visitors,” Chris said.

“This one in Queenscliff is over six months, right in the thick of town and has 80 works I think it will attract a few people.” Chris said there was a long family connection to the area and that was part of the motivation behind the Queenscliff Art Prize.

A beautiful artwork by Ballarat artist Jenna Oldaker.


“My extended family has lived in Queenscliff since the 1850s, and it was reported in the Argus newspaper at the time that my great great grandfather Jack Wells, the cook on the pilot schooner ‘Rip’ drowned along with three other crew members when the vessel was swamped by a huge wave on the July 15, 1873,” he explained.

“As my forebears have before me, I am now pleased together with my brother Adam to be able to contribute to the long and colourful history of this unique seaside community.

“I’m really excited about it, I love the pier and I just think it’s just going to be really nice.”

A website for the event is currently under construction.

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