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''Landscapes are always well represented because ... if you live in Otago and you're an artist, it's a bit hard not to paint the landscape,'' one of the awards' founding sponsors, John Charrington, said.
The total prize money for the awards is $11,000. The winning artist gets $5000 and the remainder of the money is distributed between the landscape artist, people's choice and best-work-under-$1000 categories.
''It's one of the most generous art prizes in the South Island ... for painting and drawing. I don't think there's anything else that's near that,'' Mr Charrington said.
To enter, artists must be living in the South Island and their submitted artworks must not have been previously exhibited. The artwork entered is often completed in the final days before delivery, to the point where some pieces have turned up still wet.
''People want to see fresh stuff ... it loses its impact if it's not fresh work.''
All the artworks will be for sale at the gala night at 6pm on Friday, where the winners will be announced. Some of the proceeds will go to the Holy Family School, where the event is held each year. Pieces can also be bought during the exhibition period: 10am to 4pm on Saturday, Sunday and Monday, and 10am to 2pm on Tuesday.
Last year's overall award went to Dunedin artist John Toomer for his painting of the historic Arcadia Theatre building in Waimate.
His daughter Alice (14), who has donated one of her artworks for the fundraising auction but is too young to enter the awards, recently sold all her paintings during a joint exhibition with her father.
This year's awards have attracted 73 entries, down on last year's record of 104. The bulk of them have come from south of Canterbury, with a strong representation of Central Otago artists.
Judges for the 2013 prize are Christchurch-based Melissa Reimer, a freelance art historian and copywriter; and Simon Edwards, also of Christchurch, who graduated from the University of Canterbury School of Fine Arts in 1997 and has been a finalist in the Cranleigh Barton Drawing Award and a 2005 people's choice winner in the Anthony Harper Award for Contemporary Art. firstname.lastname@example.org