What was the inspiration for Signature of M and How Does it Work?
09 Aug 2007
Signature of M

Signature of M Fast Facts
What is the Signature of M?

Signature of M is Australia’s richest arts competition.

Sponsored by
leading Australian businesses, the competition involves artists submitting an artwork concept that symbolises Melbourne, inspired by the phrase ‘Melbourne is Unforgettable’.  The winning concept is then produced incorporating the logos or names of all the sponsoring businesses, creating a new artistic emblem for the city.

Melbourne will be the international launching platform for an “Around the World” Signature Series. Organisers plan to take the arts prize overseas to capture the signature of cities including New York, LA, San Francisco, Dubai, Tokyo, Moscow, London, Paris, Beijing and Rio de Janeiro.

Who is organising Signature of M?

Signature of M is the brainchild of Benjamin Jung and Karsten Knorr, both originally from Germany. The two fell in love with Australia during a visit in 2004 and now live in Sydney. Knorr and Jung met at an art exhibition at Mosman Art Gallery, got talking about art projects and wanted to do something to link
Sydney’s arts and business communities.

They came up with the idea of an arts prize that is paid for primarily by the city’s businesses and attracts the nation’s top artists but also a host of unknown or emerging ones.

How does the Signature of M competition work?

Artists compete for the Signature of M prize by creating concept artworks
inspired by the phrase ‘Melbourne is Unforgettable’. Once entry closes, a judging panel selects 30 semi-finalists, which are displayed in a public exhibition. Members of the public vote on the semi-finalists, with the
top five public favourites going through to the final round of the competition. A judging panel selects a further seven entrants, resulting in 12 artwork concepts in the final round.

The 12 artists are then requested to develop their concept to final artwork stage, incorporating the names or logos of the participating businesses. A panel of judges will then select one overall winner, which will be announced at a gala ceremony in October 2008. The winning artist receives $150,000 in prize
money while the 11 finalists will each receive $2,700. All 12
artworks will be auctioned at the gala night with proceeds going to the AFL Foundation’s Ladder Project to help build a home for homeless youth in inner Melbourne.

All participating businesses will receive a signed, numbered limited edition print of the winning artwork.

Where did the phrase ‘Melbourne is Unforgettable’ come from?

A public competition to come up with a new slogan for Melbourne was held between June and July 2007, with members of the public submitting and voting on slogans that complete the phrase, ‘Melbourne is…’. The winning slogan was submitted by 36 year old Fabian Faggiano of Carinlea.

What was the inspiration for Signature of M?

Intrigued by the individuality of various world cities, the organisers of the
Signature series Benjamin Jung and Karsten Knorr wanted to generate debate about what is Melbourne, and to create a depiction of Melbourne, its stories and
its commercial landscape.

Jung and Knorr were also inspired by the desire to bring about closer relations between the arts and business communities. They particularly wanted to create an opportunity for smaller businesses to get involved in art philanthropy.

The idea of an artwork being sponsored by a range of business identities is not new. Rembrandt’s The Night Watch, painted in 1642, is said to have been commissioned by a Captain and his civic militia guards and incorporates their names on a shield in the background. Incorporating the names of businesses into an artwork has occurred in Australia as long ago as 1888, with an anonymous Australian artwork entitled Sydney 1988 depicting a range of prominent businesses across an imagined future city landscape.

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