bentART was established in the Blue Mountains in 2005 to celebrate works in the visual arts of Australian Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender and Intersex (“LGBTQI”) 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 LGBTQI art event in Australia. Initially, for LGBTQI artists living in (or with a strong association with) the Blue Mountains, bentART is now open to LGBTQI artists resident in Australia.
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. In 2019 the prize pool was in excess of $11,000 and the following awards were given:
- Overall bentART Exhibition Award
- Overall bentART Exhibition Runner Up Award
- Highly Commended Awards– Nine
- New Entrant Award
- Postcards Award
- Curator’s Award
- People’s Choice Award
- Pets & Wildlife Smartphone-ography Award
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), Dr Sanne Mestrom (Senior Lecturer, Visual Art Sydney College of the Arts | Faculty of Arts and Social Sciences), Lizzy Marshall (Western Sydney based curator, educator and writer).
bentART was originally auspiced by the Mountains Community Resource Network before becoming incorporated under the NSW Associations Act in 2009.