Artists Collective, Kangaroo Island Inc, Media Release, 9 March 2021
A strong friendship, a lasting legacy and a prize to inspire and recognise artists – the Diana Keir Art Award is much more than another accolade in South Australia’s art world.
When Kangaroo Island identity Diana Keir passed in 2019, the impact was felt by her friend, Alexandra McCarthy.
Alex, who knew Diana for 26 years, was saddened by the loss. This feeling was compounded by an urgency to ensure that Diana’s legacy lived on.
“Diana was a close friend and mentor for me growing up and I spent a great deal of time exploring the natural world on KI and ‘making’ art with her. She was a lively, eccentric character and a very unique person,” Alex said.
“At her funeral there were discussions about an event very close to Diana’s heart – the Kangaroo Island Art Exhibition, which had been running for more than 33 years and was seeking ongoing sponsorship for prizes.”
Alex wanted to honour Diana’s memory by establishing the Diana Keir Art Award. The prize for this year’s Exhibition is $5000. It will double to $10,000 for the 2023 Exhibition.
“I knew that Diana wanted to create long-term awareness around the arts, the beauty of Kangaroo Island and I thought a permanent and beneficial prize that would help support future generations is an ideal way to do this,” Alex said.
In order to secure a long term funding plan, Alex decided a corpus established in perpetuity was the most appropriate way to fundraise.
As a result, she is working with Guildhouse – a not for profit organisation that supports visual artists, craftspeople and designers – to reach a goal of $150,000.
Guildhouse Chief Executive Office, Emma Fey, along with Director of the Art Gallery of SA, Rhana Devenport, have been appointed to judge this year’s Exhibition.
The 16 day Exhibition will be held at the Penneshaw Hall from Good Friday, April 2.
Diana was born in Cornwall in 1943. She moved to Australia with her husband Bruce and their two young boys in the early 1970s.
Diana found her connection to Kangaroo Island in the mid-1990s, and literally put her roots down by planting a vineyard at Antechamber Bay.
She was a valued member of the Kangaroo Island art community and gave so much of her time and energy to advance the local arts.
The Diana Keir Art Award will strengthen enthusiasm for the arts on Kangaroo Island and will attract a greater number and spectrum of artists, which will in turn attract more visitors.
The prize will be awarded at the biennial Kangaroo Island Easter Art Exhibition and will be a lasting legacy that will promote and underpin the longevity of the Exhibition.