Picture: Iain Gillespie/The West Australian

One of the State's most significant art prizes is back in business after a five-year hiatus while waiting to move into a new gallery in the Bankwest headquarters at Raine Square.

The Bankwest Contemporary Art Prize has been on hold since it was last held at the Perth Institute of Contemporary Arts in 2007.

The first prize has been doubled to $30,000 and a $5000 People's Choice award also is on offer to the 20 finalists in the exhibition, which will be opened with the announcement of the winner at the bank's new art gallery in Bankwest Place, on November 14.

Bankwest art curator Sandra Murray said more than 150 WA artists entered the award, which had been on hold pending the completion of the Raine Square redevelopment on the corner of Murray and William streets.

The winning work will be added to Bankwest's 500-strong collection, one of the most significant in the State, which includes works by Robert Juniper, Guy Grey-Smith, George Haynes, Olga Cironis, Bob Birch and Brian Blanchflower.

As the former R&I Bank, the company began acquiring art in the mid-1970s, about the same time as the other major WA corporate collector Wesfarmers, after a suggestion from the then senior curator at the Art Gallery of WA, Lou Klepac, to help foster WA artists. "The collection helps in developing an understanding and appreciation of art by those in the organisation and in the community generally," Ms Murray said.

There is a pronounced indigenous presence among this year's finalists drawn from across the State, including the Derby centenarian Loongkoonan and East Kimberley artists Patrick Mung Mung and Mabel Juli. Other finalists include Penny Coss, Thomas Hoareau, Ron Nyisztor and Thea Costantino.

Ms Murray sits on the judging panel with the National Gallery of Australia's National Indigenous Art Triennial curator, Carly Lane, and Art Gallery of NSW head curator of Australian art, Wayne Tunnicliffe.

The Bankwest Contemporary Art Prize is at the Bankwest Art Gallery, 300 Murray Street, Perth, from November 14 to February 10.

The West Australian

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