THE MARITIME Gallery at Mystic Seaport hosts the Annual International Marine Art Exhibition each September in Connecticut – the largest Maritime Museum in the USA.
The Awards began in 1980 and initially only local, Canadian and British artists participated.
In 1987 telegrams were sent to Maritime Museums worldwide and the Sydney Heritage Fleet’s CEO David Phippard didn’t know any marine artists except me so forwarded it to me.
Once communications were in place, I was to send high quality transparencies of up to two paintings.
Luckily I had two large works with an American theme, “Reliance defeating Shamrock” and “America winning the 100 Guineas Cup”. To my delight both were accepted, so I shipped them off to my first International.
I was stunned to receive a letter from Mystic saying “Our distinguished jury singled your ‘Reliance defeating Shamrock’ for The Award of Excellence , congratulations,”and the painting has sold.”
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IN AUSTRALIA when you take a painting to a commercial gallery, the artist gives the selling price and the gallery then deducts their commission.
Unbeknown to me in America, they add their commission to the asking price.
When the cheque arrived our dollar was 48 cents to $US, so converting it at the bank I received four times the amount I expected.
Dealing with these Americans had a promising future.
In 2004 I won the Thomas Wells Award, this category is “Sailing Ships and /or Ports of Call”.
By this time artists from 17 nations were finalists.
It is similar to the Oscars, a watercolour award, yachting award, sculpture award, a wildlife award.
If your painting doesn’t meet the criteria or two standout paintings are in the same section, the Award of Excellence comes into play.
I was honoured that year being inducted into “The Premier Artists Group”, only 20 of us worldwide.
This means I don’t pay entry fees and my work is automatically accepted to the many shows the gallery has throughout the year.
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IN 2005 I was in the United States for the “International.”
The Americans do everything in style.
Awards night is a huge gala Black Tie affair with artists, their spouses, buyers, patrons and a lot people just there to be ‘seen’.
I was seated next to the delightful wife of a Hollywood film producer. When the Awards were announced and The Award of Excellence” went to the artist who had travelled the furthest to be there, all the way from Australia – yours trul -. I felt like an Olympic athlete receiving a gold medal.
I rang my mum to tell her the good news and mum replied: ” you are soaring with the eagles dear, but you must remember to keep your feet on the ground”.
Sage words and I have desperately tried not to become complacent.
Now in 2017, I have collected my seventh Award from the International.
The judges’ comments were complimenrary indeed: “Ian Hansen’s entry Ship Dreadnought is an outstanding piece of art.
As much as any picture in the show, it captures the romance of going to sea and is a vivid interpretation of what springs from the pages of a Horatio Hornblower or Patrick O’Brien novel.
I know my best paintings are still to come.
IAN HANSEN is an accomplished marine artist residing in Hunters Hill.