From Fringe Poster Design Winner to National Arts prize finalist

Tue, Jul 13 2021
Take a trip down memory lane and revisit some of our former Adelaide Fringe Poster Competition winners! We’ve highlighted five extraordinary artists who have gone on to even greater things after their win.


Randal Tomich of Tomich Wines, poster winner Matthew Clarke and Fringe CEO Heather Croall. Photo: Trentino Priori, 2019 
Matthew Clarke, 2019 
Matthew Clarke's winning 2019 Adelaide Fringe Poster
In 2019, Australian contemporary artist Matthew Clarke blew away the Adelaide Fringe Poster judging panel and Fringe-lovers with his entry, securing him the win of that year’s Adelaide Fringe Poster Competition.
Current Fringe CEO, Heather Croall, explained “We chose Matthew’s entry because of the striking, fiery brush strokes that convey a sense of risk-taking and adventure and the vibrant colours that encapsulate the energy of Fringe.”
Excitingly, Matthew recently secured a spot as a finalist in the 2021 Archibald Prize with a portrait of previous Archibald Prize winner, Kathryn Del Barton. The Archibald Prize competition, which has been running since 1921, is one of Australia’s most prestigious art awards. We are thrilled for Matthew and feel incredibly lucky to have been a part of his artistic journey.

Pro Hart, 1982 
Pro Hart’s winning 1982 Adelaide Fringe Poster
1982’s Fringe poster came from the prolific, well-known Australian artist, Pro Hart, and the design was described as a surprising poster by an ever surprising artist. Neville Weston in an Advertiser article described the poster as “set against the black background, the colored swaying flame-like figures flow and move with an energy that spells out creative activity whether formal or informal”. Having started painting while working as a miner in a rural country city, Pro Hart wasn’t the typical artist, and that’s what helped his popularity grow - he made art accessible to all.
ProHart’s win was followed by the Pro Hart Retrospective and Exhibition as part of Fringe. It displayed works from his own collection, ranging from his early Broken Hill genre works, through to his insect swamp and outback series, to the original work used for 1982’s Fringe Festival Poster. After the festival Pro Hart continued to grow in popularity, becoming an icon of Australian culture and a house-hold name country-wide.

Driller Jet Armstrong, 1990 
Driller Jet Armstrong’s winning 1990 Adelaide Fringe Poster
The famous Adelaide identity, Driller, took out the 1990 Poster Competition. His artwork, in the spirit of friendly competition, took a tongue in cheek dig at the 'high culture' Adelaide Festival by elevating the classical renaissance imagery into Fringe-going cupids and partying Gods.
Driller wasn’t a new face to Fringe, having been previously commissioned to bring Fringe to the city’s East End by painting the distinctive mural on the corner of Frome Road and Rundle Street. Alongside becoming an iconic Adelaidian, he went on to create and own the iconic Adelaide institution, the Rundle Street club SUGAR. He’s also continued to paint his news-stirring Daubism artworks and exhibit around Australia.

Wayne Cunningham, 1996 
Wayne Cunningham’s winning 1996 Adelaide Fringe Poster
1996’s Poster Competition was won by (at the time) part-time waiter and surfer, Wayne Cunningham. His iconic, and somewhat haunting, design leapt out at both the Fringe Poster Competition judges and Fringe audiences, screaming for well-deserved attention, just like big and bold Fringe acts.
Since then, Cunningham hasn’t slowed down. He became Senior Graphic Designer at the iconic Rip It Up Publishing, was Senior Art Director at MOF Advertising, owned his own design and communications business, became the Creative Director/Content Strategist at RedBikini Video Content Agency, and he is currently the State Manager for SA and WA at Adstream.

David Blaiklock, 2009 
David Blaiklock in front of his 2009 award-winning Fringe poster at the poster launch party
In 2009, a local Adelaide illustrator took out the top prize in the Adelaide Fringe Poster competition. David Blaiklock’s orange, pink and black etching presented the inner artist (with a colourful mohawk) powerfully expressing his passion, just as artists do every year through the platform of Adelaide Fringe.
Blaiklock went on to secure the prominent position of Program Director of the Bachelor of Design (Illustration and Animation) program, which he founded in 2018, at the School of Art, Architecture and Design at the University of South Australia.

Sue Ninham, 2012 
Sue Ninham, in front of her 2012 winning Fringe Poster at the poster launch/span>
Taking out the 2012 Adelaide Fringe Poster Competition was Australian artist, Sue Ninham. The inspiration for Ninham’s winning Fringe poster was drawn from the 1950’s when she spent childhood summers in her grandparent’s house. This was filled with memories of space-age, splay-legged furniture, Parisian-scened feature walls, fold away record players and crazy paving. All of this nostalgia has filled her work with a playful optimism, leading her to develop a fun and playful poster.

Since her win, Ninham has taken on artist residencies at Loreto College, Wilderness School and in Skagastrond, Iceland, for the NES International Artist in Residency. She has held three solo exhibitions at prominent Adelaide commercial art gallery, BMGART, and most recently exhibited at the Mental Health Week held at the Royal Adelaide Hospital. Her works are held in private and corporate collections around the world, including Australia, London, HK & NZ.

Here at Adelaide Fringe, we’re incredibly proud to provide a public platform for up and coming artists, designers and creatives to promote their incredible works. The Adelaide Fringe Poster Competition is one of the most exciting events for us, and we cannot wait to see the array of diverse designs that will compete to be the 2022 Adelaide Fringe Poster!