The Future is Bright – 40 under 40 exhibition

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Alexandra Baxter reveals why she sees the 40 Under 40 Exhibition as the birthplace for artist and collector alike.

Before I begin, I would like to rather intimately describe to you my current living situation. I am freshly 22 and pay $180 a week rent. To my name, I have a trio of copper-based Scanpans, an original plasma TV, a GHD straightener that I got for my 14th birthday, and a passable, albeit sagging in the middle, mattress. 

You could say my assets are few, but I would wholeheartedly disagree. Lining the walls of my room (akin to the hook free, rental life), are artworks I came across at the 40 Under 40 Exhibition in years gone by. Each work is signed by a Sunshine Coast artist, where the salt content of the south-easterlies seems to favour the artistic talent per capita. 

My Last Will & Testament gifts two Mitch Cheeseman’s, a Lauren Jones and an Ashlee Becks to the State Gallery, if the State is still alive and well. When the time comes, these 40/40 founded artists will be worthy of such status. In these four canvases I put my trust. 

But less about my finances, and more about my nativity scene of choice: the birthplace of artist, collector and lover of the arts: The 40/40 Exhibition. 

In years preceding the 40/40 Exhibition, scarce appearance was made by the younger artists of the greater Sunshine Coast region; their lights politely hidden under bushel. 

Fast forward two years, and Amanda Bennetts, Founder and Co-Curator of the 40/40, tells me, “Our younger art scene is alive and well, vibrant, a little grungy, and anything but dull.” 

As Bennetts reflects on the impact this exhibition has had not only on the arts community, but the artists themselves, she finds herself caught in the humblest of brags.

“It’s evident from the success of the past two 40/40s, that the exhibition and event must continue for years to come,” she says. “The 40/40 has given so many younger artists a platform to share their art, collaborate and network. It has created an exuberant community of young artists who are gaining attention from outside our community.” 

I have watched Bennetts pour time, passion and expertise into what has become not only a highly regarded, happening event, but a means for artists from the region to achieve professional representation. 

The 40/40 Exhibition has acted as the springboard for emerging artists to begin their self-sustaining, successful careers. Encouraging of naivety, while a catalyst for talent to be noticed and career propelled, every emerging artist wants a slice of this pie. Let the success of the artists that line my bedroom walls, sold-out opening nights, and record crowds be evidence for these words. 

With a large cohort of young, talented artists waiting in the wings for news of the next 40 Under 40, Bennetts spills that the exhibition, event and meritorious Art Prize will return to Cooroy Butter Factory in early 2022. 

This year’s artists will enter their final artwork to be assessed by selection panel. With her keen eye for unharnessed artistic potential intact, Bennetts explains, “The number of artists wanting to be in the exhibition has well exceeded the 40 spots available. I am so proud of how far this project has come, and so excited to see what this new selection process attracts.” 

For appreciators of art, food and beverage, and those who fancy a night of culture and entertainment – brace yourselves for the 40/40 opening night ticket release. A previously sold-out event, capped at 500 tickets, means opportunity is limited and fleeting. 

From one doe-eyed lover of art to the next, to miss the next 40/40 would be blasphemous. 


Exhibition Dates: 21 January 2022 – 6 March 2022

Closing Party: 5 March 2022

Tickets release: 23 January 2022

Ticket Cost: $25

BOOK TICKETS: Butter Factory Arts Centre


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