PREPARATIONS are well under way for the launch of Warrnambool's own portrait exhibition The Warrnibald next month.
The $2000 award has attracted interest from artists across the south-west who have depicted politicians, business people, volunteers, sports people and members of the community in a variety of mediums.
The Western District Employment Access (WDEA) initiative, which is raising money to improve arts accessibility for people with disabilities, will be exhibited at Artlink Gallery from July 2 to 21.
WDEA community programs co-ordinator Jack Melican said he had been hoping for about 30 entries for the inaugural event but was overwhelmed when he had received 51 by the closing date last Friday. "It's been really popular," he said.
"And well supported by the subjects.
"They've given time to tell their stories."
Entries have been created as collages, sculptures, other 3D works and paintings in watercolour, acrylic and oil.
Mr Melican said while there were portraits of several south-west leaders including Member of Parliament Denis Napthine and Warrnambool mayor Jacinta Ermacora, it also recognised the unsung efforts of community members.
"There are some portraits of people who a lot of us may not have heard about but they've been around the community for a while and done their part," he said.
"It's to inspire young people to achieve their best."
Mr Melican said he expected about 180 people to attend the official launch on July 13.
He encouraged the public to visit the exhibition from July 2 and vote for The Warrnibald's sister prize The Archibool, a $2000 people's choice award.
"If people haven't been to an art gallery before because there seem to be a lot in Warrnambool who haven't we want them to come to this one," he said.
"We want to get them to engage in the subjects, stories of their neighbours and friends, people they might normally walk past in the street."