Winner encourages others to enter prestigious art competition

Posted: 2pm 20 Jan 2022

ARTIST BJ Murphy has always liked to dabble in different sorts of art, but he never thought a spur-of-the-moment photograph would win him the top prize in the region’s biggest art competition.

BJ wowed the judges in last year’s Moreton Bay Region Art Prize with a stunning photo inside a hollowed-out tree in the forest.

The photo was taken by his friend Jo-anne Driessens, but the concept was his idea. 

The portrait represented his connection to country and his ancestors.

“This was the first time I had entered the Moreton Bay Region Art Prize, and the first significant art prize I had won so I was really blown away,” BJ says.

“I got that feeling of finally making it and being acknowledged for the effort I have put into my art over the years.

“What made it even special was I won the prize on my country, Jinibara country.

“I actually teared up but blamed it on the air-conditioning!

“I certainly didn’t think a photograph would be what landed me the prize because photography has always been a side hobby for me.

“This photo wasn’t planned at all, but I don’t think I could have planned it any better.”

How to enter

After taking out the top prize on his first entry, BJ is encouraging other local artists to submit their favourite pieces for this year’s competition.

“I would encourage anyone and everyone to enter because you just never know what the judges are looking for,” he says.

“I think as artists we can be quite hard on ourselves when it comes to critiquing our own work, but this art prize gives you the opportunity to push yourself further as an artist."

Entries are open now for anyone over the age of 18 and close on Thursday, March 10.

A prize pool of $10,000 is up for grabs for the lucky winners.

Entry is free and although there are no entry categories, artists can select from art forms such as photography, painting, textile, sculpture or others on the entry form.

When asked if he plans on entering this year’s competition, BJ says he was still undecided.

“If I come up with an amazing piece I might enter again." 

Entries will be on display from Saturday, May 7 to Saturday, June 4, 2022.

Visit for more information about the art prize.

New creative outlet

Since winning the competition, BJ has opened a new art gallery in the Sunshine Coast hinterland.

The gallery, named Munnimbah-Dja is located at 20 Coral Street, Maleny.

Munnimbah-Dja means "Welcome Place". 

"What started off as me as an artist wanting my own space turned into a gallery," BJ says. 

"The community was really screaming for culture, so we made it into a cultural space for everyone to enjoy.

"We have artists as well as visitors popping in, so we sit down, have a coffee and talk about the arts." 



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