TASMANIA'S newest Acquisitive Art Prize has splashed fresh faces into the spotlight, including Launceston's emerging artist Alyce Bailey, 19.

But it was a vibrant acrylic by Hobart painter Alan Young that judges yesterday agreed best captured the inaugural $20,000 Bay of Fires Art Prize theme, Our Island Inheritance.

Young's wry reflection of Tasmania, called the Eski and the Octopus, consistently engaged the panel of judges’ interest from preselection to yesterday's final judging.

Speaking on behalf of a panel of three judges, Professor Marie Sierra, the University of Tasmania’s Visual and Performing Arts Head of School, described Young's work as “giving an interesting perspective of life in Tasmania, its diverse cultures and where humanity sits in the environment”.

“The work offers colour and movement, there's an intuitive, fresh handling of paint,” she said.

“While the work is humorous, on reflection there is also a wryness which we all found interesting.”

The competition drew 169 entries with 35 shortlisted for final judging.

Bailey's pen and ink depiction of a fox; Victorian textile artist Kim McKechnie’s Time and Tide in linen, silk, paper and cotton exploring ageing in the marine environment; Sally Mumford's “incredibly detailed pencil work telling stories in multiple layers”; and Anne Morrison's watercolour on paper were all highly commended.

Bailey was an RACT Tasmanian portraiture finalist last year and she won The Examiners’ Choice for Art Studio Practice in ArtRage 2011.

Other artists who made the shortlist were luminaries of the Tasmanian art scene such as Glover prize winner Michael McWilliams, print maker Melissa Smith, Patrick Grieve and 2011 Tasmanian Art Prize winner David Lake.

The finalists’ works are on exhibition at Parnella Gallery, 60 Cecilia Street, St Helens, until June 30, when the $500 People’s Choice Award will be decided.