bentART was established in the Blue Mountains in 2005 to celebrate works in the visual arts of Australian Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender and Intersex (“LGBTI”) artists.
Each year over the June long weekend, the annual 4-day bentART exhibition is held in the Blue Mountains of New South Wales.
The inspiration of three Blue Mountains women, bentART has evolved into the largest LGBTI art event in Australia. Initially for LGBTI artists living in (or with a strong association with) the Blue Mountains, bentART is now open to LGBTI artists resident in Australia.
By the 2009 exhibition 48 artists participated, displaying over 100 pieces of work, including paintings, drawings, photographs, sculptures and alternative media. The artists drew from a diversity of ideas, experiences and creative talents to create an exhibition that stimulated its audience.
In 2010 the exhibition went national and 55 artists participated with 125 works. A Runner Up Award was added to the prizes as well as a best New Entrant Award.
In 2015 a new category of SmartPhoneography was added allowing artists to enter works created using only their mobile phone.
bentART has become a highlight of the Queens Birthday weekend of activities in the Blue Mountains for the lesbian and gay community in New South Wales and beyond. There are two major prizes associated with bentART:
– The bentART Prize
– Peoples’ Choice Prize (nominated by the public).
The show is curated and judged by recognised experts from within the Australian arts community. Previous curators and judges have included Professor Amanda Lawson (Dean, Faculty of Creative Arts – University of Wollongong, Director of Bathurst Regional Art Gallery) Richard Perram (Bathurst Regional Art Gallery), John Kirkman (former CEO, Penrith Regional Gallery & The Lewis Bequest), Ingrid Hayden (well-known Sydney painter), former Archibald and Sulman Prize winner, Euan MacLeod, and Catherine O’Donnell (working artist) and Matthys Gerber (Senior Lecturer, Painting – Sydney College of the Arts).
bentART was originally auspiced by the Mountains Community Resource Network before becoming incorporated under the NSW Associations Act in 2009.