“Well, well! What an unenviable job judging must be!” — dissenting reports from the 1947 Travelling Scholarship and Art School Prizes
The Judges’ Report in the 1948 issue of DAUB — consists of two conflicting assessments of the work submitted by students for the Travelling Scholarship and the National Gallery Art School Prizes for 1947. Three of the judges: Douglas Dundas, Eric Thake and the then director of the National Gallery of Victoria, Daryl Lindsay, sign a report that praises the welcomed diversification of techniques, a trend that encourages “a freer expression of thought in all mediums.” The fourth judge, Alice M. E. Bale, the only woman in the judging panel, concludes in a dissenting report that: “the experimentalizing commended by the other judges is premature,” and recommends that the students should first gain “a sound knowledge of natural appearances and the ability to render them.” This dispute is representative of a larger antagonism between the modern and traditional ways of painting, and their respective supporters which extends beyond the doors of the Art School, to the status of modern art in mid-century Melbourne in collecting institutions, the university and the wider public sphere. Such is the controversy, that the results of the competition generate articles in Melbourne newspapers, for example “Modernist” Picture Wins £900 (The Argus, Melbourne, Vic.: Fri 19 Dec 1947, Page 3) and Problem in Art Awards (The Argus, Melbourne, Vic.: Sat 20 Dec 1947, Page 43).