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2017


Davida Allen | Robert Brain Vicky Browne | Scott Chaseling Karla Dickens | Julie Fragar Will French | Helen Fuller Dale Harding | Patsy Hely Lorraine Jenyns | Jumaadi Heidi Lefebvre | Vincent Namatjira Claudia Nicholson | Ramesh Mario Nithiyendran | Jenny Orchard | Jungle Phillips Lisa Reid | Marcelle Riley Madonna Staunton | Kenji Uranishi Justine Varga | Carla & Lisa Wherby Terry Williams | William Yaxley Paul Yore | Alan Young

look at me looking at you


The title of the National Self-Portrait Prize 2017, Look at me looking at you, references the role that the spectator plays in the reception of an artwork – there is an endless exchange between the viewer and maker that animates an image or object, particularly in the case of a self-portrait. This encounter can be limited to the intimate conversation that takes place in the gallery space itself or continued at some future time, as if someone has passed on a message to be later revealed and savoured. ‘Look at me looking at you’ is also a line from the song “(I’m) Stranded” by The Saints.1 Recorded in Brisbane in 1976, “(I’m) Stranded” quickly became an Australian cult hit and is now a classic. The Saints orbited around punk rock rather than being fully fledged members. Their intelligent, bombastic and pioneering attitude suited a more singular outlier vision rather than being part of any hip gang or fashionable style. As a point of reference for audiences, the Brisbane sound, typically raw, direct, smart and humorous, as typified by The Saints, is an integral part of the way this exhibition has been framed and considered. It might be a cliché for Brisbane audiences, but there is an inescapable languid air here that can seem to make time stand still and as if anything can happen. This is no more evident than in the city’s music. Along with The Saints, the Go-Betweens were another key pillar in the Brisbane sound. As one of the band’s songwriters, Robert Forster explains: I think what Brisbane gave the band was a sense of isolation. And time to develop, … there was a certain charm, country town charm, to Brisbane and there wasn’t 3

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much pressure. The other thing is it made us dream.2 As the curators of this exhibition, we think that this capacity to dream is still very much at the heart of Brisbane art. Looking at the quintessentially Brisbane artist Robert MacPherson, one sees the same character traits as in Forster, Grant McLennan, and Lindy Morrison of the Go-Betweens and in the members of The Saints, and the connections between the visual arts and music are deep. Both music and art are grounded in a strong element of self-education (their practitioners are often surprisingly bookish). And there is something else to be said for the art of Brisbane: it upends the whole centre–margin dynamic – strongly independent and determined Brisbane art and artists do not have the anxiety with the centre that perhaps those from Melbourne and Sydney do. Many Brisbane artists seem to display an adventurous use of a DIY aesthetic combined with a handmade conceptualism that is independent and personal, regional yet global, warm and time-worn, rather than being cold, discreet, and heavy with a presumed knowing of being ‘the centre’. Most of those invited to participate in Look at me looking at you possess this spirit, revelling in aspects of the hand-made, the handme-down, the urgent, and the everyday. While a cohort of artists is from Brisbane, we have aimed for national representation. The artists selected come from a wide range of backgrounds and ages, are at different points in their careers, and create a variety of touch points, from celebrating the banality of the everyday through to pop music, family relationships, and the nature of identity. Importantly, they comprise a very deliberate mix of cultural diversity, generations and genders.


Some of those included could be, for want of a better word and only in terms of the art world (with its mixed-up version of inclusion/ exclusion), considered ‘outsiders’, by virtue of working outside of the conservative structures of the mainstream. This marginal position may originate from where the artists choose to live and work, through to the materials they employ. For instance, a number of the artists are choosing to work with ceramics, which seems to be undergoing a contemporary affirmation of sorts while still being excluded by many major institutions because of the sullied connections the medium is perceived to have with functional and decorative art (not that there’s anything wrong with that). It is worth saying that nowadays as the arts sector gets subsumed into the sexy world of branding and the banal ‘jacket over the shoulder, sit on this crate, relaxed group photo’, age itself now creates its own special form of marginalisation. For the most part, we have avoided artists who are using complex, or even simple, technological means with which to construct images. The ubiquity of the self in images – from the selfie through to digital depictions – is well covered elsewhere and was the subject of a previous Prize. Where artists do use technology, it is as a means to an end and while many use online platforms, predominantly Instagram, to construct an image of themselves, their art practices are still very much anchored in the world of objects – ‘no ideas but in things’.3 Almost all of the artists have created unique works for the exhibition and many have extended their practice in some way. For some, the biographical mode – whether picturing themselves directly or contextually – is their dominant way of working. For these artists, one imagines the tension may derive from placing themselves among a ‘society of individuals’.4 For others, the idea of portraiture is one they

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have had to get their heads around as they had not been working with any explicit self-image, so the process of making their work has been difficult and caused them to reconsider aspects of their practice. The opportunity to work and talk with artists and to be involved even tangentially in their problem solving and creativity is part of what sustains us as curators. The works have an honesty and directness that we find compelling, from the deeply self-analytical to the humorous to the melancholic to the brazen and confident. The artists’ individual responses and their ability to rise to the challenge (and, for some, the difficulties of this) is something we see contained in all the works and that, we expect, will be palpable to audiences. We hope this this mélange of people, ideas, and things creates a space in which viewers, to paraphrase Robert Forster, will have their own space in which to dream a vision of themselves. Glenn Barkley and Holly Williams Curators, National Self-Portrait Prize 2017

1. Chris Bailey and Ed Kuepper, “(I’m) Stranded,” 7″ single (Australia: EMI, 1976). 2. Robert Forster, quoted in Bernard Zuel, “How Brisbane formed the striped sunlight sound of the Go-Betweens,” Sydney Morning Herald, 31 January 2015, http://www. smh.com.au/entertainment/music/how-brisbane-formed-the-striped-sunlight-soundof-the-gobetweens-20150121-12te5j.html. 3. William Carlos Williams, Paterson, rev. ed. (New York: New Directions, 1992), 168. 4. Norbert Elias, The society of individuals, Volume 10 of Collected works of Norbert Elias (Dublin: University College Dublin Press, 2010).


Jenny Orchard Winner of the National Self-Portrait Prize 2017

Jenny Orchard makes figurative hybrid ceramics, totemic forms and vessels that explore liminal states of being while celebrating the diversity of material form. A yearning for connection is at the heart of my ceramics and art practice. Connection with other people, but also with the world, the ecology, is the essence of my work. Many components of the works are taken from moulds of plants, vegetables from the supermarket, tree rubbings, and debris from my garden. They are reminiscent of phytoplankton, the shapes of clouds, eyes that reflect back. I am fascinated by the idea of what the world would be for a chameleon, a fly, a mountain; these things have a life that I believe is part human. Because we experience them, our consciousness reaches out to them. Empathy does not exist virtually, only in the consciousness of those who experience it. This is a word that has been scrawled across the front wall of my house for the past two decades; it’s a concept I feel strongly about. It’s naïve to believe empathy will save the world, but I choose to be wilfully naïve. Any of my ceramic creatures or totems could be a self-portrait, ‘this how I am’, bits of everything.

Self Portrait as a Multispecies Activist 2017 glazed earthenware with metal frame, feathers, wool and synthetic fibres, raffia and rubber Courtesy of the artist and Beaver Galleries, Canberra. 5

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Judges comments

Jenny Orchard’s arresting, award-winning entry to the National Self-Portrait Prize 2017 is not just an amalgam of diverse materials, in which ceramics provides the core. The work is a bold imaginative leap into another world – and a totemic amalgam of the things that surround Orchard’s life, physically, and her belief in the redeeming role of empathy. Made of glazed earthenware shaped from moulds of plants, vegetables from the supermarket, tree rubbings and debris from the artist’s garden, Self Portrait as a Multi-species Activist speaks of Orchard’s deep craving to belong to a world of harmonious and felt consciousness, connected to all living things. Widely exhibited and collected in Australia, Orchard grew up in Zimbabwe and emigrated to Australia in 1976. She has been an important influence in contemporary Australian ceramic art practice for the past 40 years. Orchard’s imposing, award-winning work is technically very refined, and invested with detailed and subtle qualities to which the artist has given considerable thought. Jenny Orchard could be seen as continuing the long tradition of expressive ceramic sculpture in Australian art, exemplified by now-revered artists such as John Perceval and Arthur Boyd. We know that Orchard has an abiding interest in Australian Aboriginal mythologies. But as I looked at her playful, celebratory and intriguing work, I thought I could also detect the beat of African drums, along with a little touch of voodoo! It revealed something new, each time I returned to it. Erica Green Director, Anne and Gordon Samstag Museum of Art, University of South Australia Judge NSPP 2017

Read Erica Green’s full judges comments here

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Davida Allen

Davida Allen is a painter and filmmaker whose work addresses family and sexuality. Her relationships with her four daughters and other extended family members have become a recurring subject in her paintings. The Grandmother, looking in the mirror cleaning her teeth, is showing the Grandchild ‘how to do it’. The Grandchild, standing on a chair beside her, holding her own toothbrush, is looking at Davida. This Ritual is full of love, good intention; frustration and toothpaste!

Cleaning teeth 2017 oil on marine ply Courtesy of the artist and Philip Bacon Galleries, Brisbane. 7

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Robert Brain

Robert Brain’s visually rich tapestries are infused with art historical and contemporary references and fragments of his own extensive biography. Using embroidery running stitch, he incorporates cultural imagery into his works, from Japanese woodblocks to Rococo ornamentation to Persian mosaics. The work has six figures: The four saints, small figures down the right side, depicted as tonsured and haloed monks blowing on trumpets. Myself as an 84-year-old Simeon in a large ornate bowl on top of an equally ornate column STRANDED in the Australian (as opposed to the original Syrian) desert. He is half-naked (i.e. to the waist), has streaming grey hair, and is wearing earphones that connect him to the figure of a naked youth, or ephebo, who is also stranded but in a large wine glass. The two are linked by wires spelling the word ‘STRANDED’. The background shows bounding kangaroos, and there is also a roo in the bowl with the saint/artist. The viewer can conceive of the stranded saint as the father OR the lover of the young man. I think you will like the tapestry, which is not as weird as it might sound.

Robert as St Simeon Stylites and Youth 2017 wool Courtesy of the artist and Maunsell Wickes, Sydney. 8

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Vicky Browne

Vicky Browne is a multi-media artist who employs everyday objects to comment on contemporary systems of consumption and production. She is known for her soundbased sculptures and kinetic installations. A few months ago, someone close to me had a religious experience and ‘found’ God. This came out of the blue and impacted my life daily. Their experience became a catalyst for my own reflection upon such things. Where am I from? How did I come to be? The work made here is a response to these thoughts. Firstly, we are all made of the same stuff; materials connect us in profound and meaningful ways. When we are looking at the world – the dirt, the grass – and when we are looking out to the stars, we are looking at ourselves. This is what I wanted to capture in the materiality of my work. I have used clay, glass, and metal; these materials are the stuff that fuses us together, forming us. The imagery reflects the cosmos – the glass plates demonstrate an object’s ability to convert a vastness akin to looking at the night sky, while the stoneware anchors us to the earth.

When we look at the dirt we are looking at ourselves 2017 glass, lead came, laser toner powder, stoneware, electronics and video Courtesy of the artist and Galerie Pompom, Sydney. 9

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Scott Chaseling

Scott Chaseling works primarily in glass, from layered and painted sculptural vessels to large mixed media constructions. He has explored a wide range of subjects from portraiture to political narratives to the ephemeral nature of liminal space. I am researching the possibilities of creating sculpture that represents a liminal space between a sense of place and one of being lost. Employing theories relating to the agency of objects, this research investigates a heterotopia between concepts of place and placelessness, and attempts to present an account of this through a self-portrait sculpture. The creation of this sculpture reveals a point of transition through materials by exploiting the viewer’s preconceived notions of object classification. This temporal shift of perception, along with a change in material expectations, will allow the viewer to participate with the sculpture via the introduction of their own readings.

Self portrait: Past and present 2017 wood, glass, plastic, mirror, neon and silicone Courtesy of the artist. 10

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Karla Dickens

Karla Dickens’s deeply personal, politically charged practice ranges across photography, textile, sculpture, text and installation. Frequently using found materials, her work challenges commonly held beliefs about social constructs and identity.

A woman mother about to turn 50 faired-skinned queer Aboriginal living with mental health making art under the hood

Spotlights circle the beautiful embraced artists give a knowing nod moulding, movers, dealers I stand back I watch I hide I dip a toe in the hood

I see

Bearing witness

As a kid I longed for invisibility my gift granted a loud voice rises I fade underestimated Little Miss Riding Hood I smile deep

The good, the bad, the game needing protection laying naked, exposed on exhibition for sale artist/work interwoven on the chopping block with or without the hood

Seeing you

See me

To see or not to see I–II 2017 two inkjet prints, ed. of 3, and 11 appliquéd fabric hoods Courtesy of the artist and Andrew Baker Art Dealer, Brisbane. 11

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Julie Fragar

Julie Fragar’s practice is centred on painting and its relationship to human subjects and authors. Forty is a good time to return to self-portraiture, if ever you were going to. I was married at 24 and twice a mother by 26. The unbroken family provides a stable mental architecture within which to live with some confidence. The sure reciprocity of relationships in that space seemed, in my case, to be like four posts of a bed. This year, I am 40 and not married. Being in the metaphoric, and sometimes actual, single bed is an echo chamber of demons past. The Single Bed is a painting about being 40 and about reconciling with the facts of how things are (as opposed to the way we thought things might be). The single bed is a complex symbol for an adult – part infantilising, part sarcophagus. My use of multiple images constitutes a kind of psychological realism. I paint an account of human ontology in which the mess of conflicting time, knowledge, hang-ups, and desires are brought together in the material, singular (flat) bed of a painting. PS The symbolism of the single bed has never been more potent than in Philip Guston’s Sleeping (1977) to which this work owes considerable debt.

The Single Bed 2017 oil on marine ply Courtesy of the artist and Sarah Cottier Gallery, Melbourne. 12

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Will French

Will French takes a multi-disciplinary approach, using diverse materials and found objects. He traverses the personal, the popular, and the political with equal parts pathos and flippancy. Look at me looking at you. Looking for something to hold on to. We are all the sum of our parts, our influences and our experiences. The task of articulating the complex and fluctuating components of one’s self, through the genre of self-portraiture, is fraught. How can an artist accurately capture the complexities of their internal life? How can a self-portrait reflect the fluctuating influences, inspirations, fixations and frustrations that litter one’s inner landscape? As a society, we are overly stimulated yet increasingly distracted, desensitised, disassociated. We are constantly looking for something to hold on to. Something we recognise in ourselves, something to be fulfilled by or proud of. Something honest, something unspoken. This work presents how an accumulated identity is governed by the collective sum of individual choices and preferences both in and outside of art. Each decision informs the next. Even the most solitary artist doesn’t make work in a vacuum.

Fifty / Fifty (love & hate) 2017 powdercoated steel, painted pacific maple and acrylic cogs Courtesy of the artist. 13

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Helen Fuller

With a background as a painter, photographer, sculptor and installation artist, Helen Fuller began working in ceramics nearly a decade ago. These pieces are often handbuilt and reflect the graphic quality she brings into her textile and paper-based works. What I see and how I see … the external (physical) and the internal (emotional) are at times at odds. I have always worn glasses. At school, I was called ‘goggles’, ‘brainy’ and ‘four eyes’. My eyewear defined my ‘self’ to be the wallflower at social events … to be quietly watchful and removed from the social epicentre… I peer through the dark-framed spectacles as I would from a bird hide. I see my body’s extremities … arm/hands/breasts like a bull-nosed veranda, gut, legs and feet … anatomical extensions dangling from my neck. The head/face (or back of these) are not so present, unless looking in a mirror or caught by reflection. I see the photographic images of my eyes framed heavily and bearing down on one of my pots tethered to the wall, making the critical assessment as one does.

Hand me down, see 2017 digital prints on Hahnemühle paper with gouache, stoneware hand-built coil vessel with underglaze, artificial flowers and wire photographer: Michael Kluvanek Courtesy of the artist. 14

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Dale Harding

Dale Harding works in a multi-disciplinary way to address socio-political issues surrounding land, Country and his cultural heritage. The materials of his works often draw on this heritage, via techniques learned from family members. Deft handwork is mirrored by conceptual rigour; Harding’s work is quietly meditative and yet astute with historical reflection. What is theirs is now ours. I do not claim to own Yet I inherit this sense of self. I do not accept your shame or fear or guilt as my nature. Mediocrity is not their legacy. Sometimes I am white. We have a word for that: Boodha-boodha. Nandhi ngaya boodha-boodha. I am white ground. Bidjara, Ghungalu and Garingbal white ochre has been sprayed by breath as a unified ground. I depict myself through a sense of inherited self – of place.

White ground 2017 ochre and binder on linen Courtesy of the artist and Milani Gallery, Brisbane. 15

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Patsy Hely

A ceramist who incorporates materials such as glass, wood and metal in her work, Patsy Hely has recently been preoccupied with recording life around her, from the birds she sees to the people she encounters. For some time now, I’ve largely set aside my usual practice as a maker of domestic objects, jugs, cups, etc., and embarked upon a project of painting portraits. I wanted to step outside my normal area and see what happened. I’ve been attending a weekly portrait-painting group to work with a model and at the same time have been taking a lot of photographs of friends, family and colleagues with the aim of painting from them. I’ve found these two types of looking and image-making interesting – for instance, I’m surprised how tender I feel toward models after just a few hours of scrutiny and drawing, even though they are perfect strangers. As a way of thinking through some of the ideas generated by looking – at friends and strangers, at portraits and motivations – I’ve developed this work and included images of both myself and of others. For me, it documents a time where I’ve stepped somewhat outside my usual identity.

Self portrait with others (looking at, looked at) 2017 porcelain and ceramic media Courtesy of the artist. 16

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Lorraine Jenyns

Lorraine Jenyns is known for her colourful and whimsical figurative style. Frequently populating her sculptural forms with playful animal forms, Jenyns has been creating vessels and totemic forms for many decades. This work was developed to explore the idea of a self-portrait of existence beyond life – mystery, light, longing, the great beyond, hopes and desires – both earthly and heavenly. The heavens wrap around us, intrigue us. At night, the stellar display keeps me watching from my bedroom window, so that sleep is denied. The reflection of light draws me to use materials such as copper and pearls, used to break up the solid surface of the portrait image, along with interior light shining out from within the pearl pagoda form.

Looking at you looking at me: Contemplating the light 2017 painted hand-built terracotta, mixed media and found objects Courtesy of the artist and Watters Gallery, Sydney. 17

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Jumaadi

Jumaadi draws on traditional Indonesian shadow puppetry, incorporating stories from his own experiences of growing up in rural Java and the narratives arising from the cultural interplay between Australia and South-East Asia. I have actually posed with a head cover like this since I was a very young age, at the Islamic School or at the mosque in Eastern Java, Indonesia. As long as I can remember, the covering was also used to reveal. For a long time, I have painted self-portraiture – mostly drawings and paintings – especially for the study of light, shadow, shape and form. But in this work, am I covering my real identity, or am I hiding a particular reality about me? I don’t know. And is it important for me to know? I’m not sure. But painting is like religion for me, like cloud to rain, like red to orange, like left and right, like wrong or right, like night to dark, like broken glass to bleeding, like October and the spring, like yes or no, like no or no, like yes or yes, like walking alone on the edge of a lagoon, like looking at your shadow under a dark moon. Like who cares?

Portrait of rain 2017 oil on plywood Courtesy of the artist, Jan Manton Art, Brisbane, and Watters Gallery, Sydney. 18

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Heidi Lefebvre

Heidi Lefebvre’s imagery and installations allude to the artist as historian, illuminating a fascination with the meaning inscribed within materials and placement. I was thinking about who would play me in the movie about my life. The only real candidate is Dustin Hoffman. Or Justin Hoffman, as my Mum remembers him. Self portraits – Enter Dustin. [Dustin, fresh from the shower, reads tomorrow’s scenes in his trailer.] [Heidi enters, wearing dump-truck jeans, army-green t-shirt, sandals. Her hair is long, finally. Her body shows signs of bearing two children who were both happy breastfeeders. There is something about her that is kind and patient. But today she is feeling frustrated... She means cowgirl business.] Voice of Dustin/Justin doing voice of Heidi – accent, Australian: Making my clothes into historical costumes – different ‘looks’ – was like a great exercise in remembering, imagining (look to the sky), thinking about our histories, who we are, what influences us? How we get to 40 and still feel all the pain, shame and victory. Each garment was made by me, from my old clothes. Not always old. Sometimes I had to say, what’s more important – wearing this one more time or turning it into an Edwardian frock coat? Whatever? Right? What’s more important? Wearing it or making it into art? [Dustin looks to camera with an actual tear in his eye.]

Read Heidi Lefebvre’s full atrist statement here Time travel look book 2017 reconstructed clothes of the artist Courtesy of the artist. 19

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Vincent Namatjira

Using bold brushstrokes, Vincent Namatjira has created portraits of some of Australia’s most famous faces – from Captain Cook to Queen Elizabeth II to Julia Gillard. Namatjira uses portraiture to explore his biography and the key figures influencing his life, including his great-grandfather Albert. I’m interested in people and their stories, and how someone from today is connected with the past. I like to paint people who are famous, and paint them here in my community. Painting them in the desert puts them into an unexpected place. Having just a little bit of humour can take the power out of a serious situation, whether something is happening to you right now or it happened long ago – it lets you have a little bit of control again; you can get a bit of cheeky revenge.

Self portrait 2017 synthetic polymer paint on linen Courtesy of the artist and This Is No Fantasy + Dianne Tanzer Gallery, Melbourne. 20

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Claudia Nicholson

Claudia Nicholson’s practice addresses issues of multiple identities, belonging and separation from homeland. With materials that range from clay and flower petals to sawdust, Nicholson references pre-Columbian ceramics, Spanish imperialism and Chola subculture. Nicholson is interested in creating acts of collective remembrance, exploring the ways in which we navigate the complexities of identity in a post-colonial context. I have taken Look at me looking at you to be an invitation to the audience to look at me looking at the above-mentioned women to see myself reflected back, an ongoing attempt to situate myself in a history from which I am separate but enamoured with. The title comes from the song “Taki Ongoy” by Mercedes Sosa, a revered Argentinian folk singer and political activist. One of the opening lines translates to ‘Endless Rain’. Taki Ongoy was an Indigenous movement of political, religious and cultural dimensions, which arose in the Peruvian Andes during the sixteenth century in opposition to the Spanish invasion. Many of the figures in my painting are modelled on colonial depictions of Indigenous people of the Amazons. I have re-worked these figures as myself conflated with significant historical, folkloric, and contemporary Latinx Amerindian women who have informed my understanding of my own history.

Endless Rain II: For the Taki Unquy, the Ice Maiden, the Amazons, the daughters of the sun and the moon, La Llorona, La Malinche, The Brown Berets, Las Sillateras de Santa Elena, The San Antonio 4, Mercedes and Maria (full of grace) 2017 watercolour, pearl pigments, diamantes, bronze leaf, ground down human teeth and glitter on paper Courtesy of the artist. 21

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Ramesh Mario Nithiyendran

Ramesh Mario Nithiyendran creates rough-edged, vibrant, new-age idols that are both enticing and disquieting. Experimenting with form and scale in the context of figurative sculpture, his work explores the politics of sex, the monument, gender and religion. The work is an aggregate self-portrait consisting of three figurative ceramic sculptures. Here, I have imagined myself as a kind of postmodern, pseudoreligious relic from the past, present and future, combining elements of East and West, the handmade and the digital, and the organic and artificial. The grouping of three is significant as a sacred number in various religions. I have represented these figures from the torso up, channelling the classical, Western form of a bust. This sanctioned style of portraiture, which is over 2,000 years old, was often used to depict important (mostly white) men. Additionally, there are references to the bi-sexed, multi-limbed, and poly-formed anthropomorphic depictions of various Hindu gods. The figures are highly adorned in terms of surface treatment and jewellery; scraps of my hair intertwined with Indian human hair sourced from the Internet, and photos of my eyes and mouth printed onto the figures reference what is perhaps currently the most prolific form of self-portraiture: the digital ‘selfie’.

Self Portrait Three Ways (long-necked and clothed, with snake crown, and with spiky head) 2017 glazed earthenware with Indian human hair, artist’s hair, wooden beads, rope, artist’s studio shirt, printed cotton shirt and rubber snake. Courtesy of the artist and sullivan+strumpf, Sydney and Singapore. 22

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Jungle Phillips

Jungle Phillips is a prolific painter, working with traditional supports and beyond to include a myriad of found objects, offcuts, doors and trays. His works draw from his life experiences and imagination; his ever-buoyant character is evident in his use of colour and linguistic playfulness. Jungle artist dancer Standing tall Rising up – Rocking on to hope and love There me with hat Brush in one hand with hope carrying love

Self portrait 2017 Synthetic polymer paint on canvas Courtesy of the artist, supported by Access2Arts, Adelaide. 23

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Lisa Reid

Lisa Reid finds inspiration in old family photographs and images from popular culture. Working across ceramics, painting, drawing and printmaking, she has been attending the supported studio Arts Project Australia since 2002. For her self-portrait, Reid carefully selected and donned her best dress and posed in the Arts Project Australia studio in front of a highly detailed backdrop. She was very conscious of what to wear and wanted to present her ‘best self’ in the drawing. This finished piece exemplifies Reid’s practice – a labour-intensive process that results in a highly detailed rendering in pencil that is both personal and authentic. Her meticulous approach says a lot about the artist. It also shows the care and importance that she has placed on this opportunity to be part of something big. In this way, the performative process of planning an artwork, sitting for the portrait, documenting it, then creating and exhibiting the work is not lost on Reid. She loves to be part of the action and to put herself and her work out there for the world to see and appreciate. (Statement provided by Arts Project Australia.)

Self portrait of me wearing my best dress 2017 coloured pencils on paper Courtesy of the artist and Arts Project Australia, Melbourne. 24

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Marcelle Riley

Marcelle Riley works in a variety of media, including textiles, drawing from her Indigenous heritage. Her artworks often encompass stories from her childhood and connect to her culture, language and Country. My doll’s name is Bibool Yok (Paperbark girl). I was born on Yued Country, Moora, WA, and spent my early childhood growing up on Mogumber Mission, once known as the Moore River Settlement. My mum and dad were ‘cottage parents’; they looked after the Nyoongar boys and girls sent there for training in agriculture and nursing. As children, us kids spent a lot of time playing at the Moore River among the paperbark trees. Bibool Yok is me now and the Coolamon represents me as a baby. Going back to Moora was the start of a journey that would reconnect me to my Boodjar (Country) place of birth and to my culture… Bibool Yok has taken me to places I never dreamed I would go to. When I started working with Community Arts Network (CAN), WA, it was amazing because I got to do what I was passionate about: art and healing.

Bibool Yok (Paperbark girl) 2016 recycled material, eco-dyed material, wool, paperbark and wire Courtesy of the artist and Community Arts Network, Perth. 25

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Madonna Staunton

From her early career in painting, Madonna Staunton became known as one of Australia’s foremost collage and assemblage artists. Her work is now infused with the formal and tonal qualities of each of these modes of practice. European Childhood I longed for a European childhood this pen was a gift from the blind so I might compensate for my inequalities I thieved several fraudulent hand bags the migraines in my head were all in foreign languages

Self portrait 2017 coloured pastels on paper Courtesy of the artist and Milani Gallery, Brisbane. 26

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Kenji Uranishi

Kenji Uranishi draws upon the longstanding ceramic traditions within Japanese art and culture. Since moving to Australia in 2004, he has worked predominantly with porcelain, hand-building translucent architecturally inspired objects. For 31 years, I lived in Japan, shaped and influenced by the language, culture, food and seasons of my birthplace. I am, at my very core, Japanese. My passport is red, not navy blue. Life in Australia has provided its challenges, yet I feel at ease here; I feel free. There’s something wonderful about being released from cultural expectations, while still having that culture at the core of your being. When you look at me, I’m Japanese. But I see in myself fragments of two histories, two lives, two cultures – maybe even two personalities, with two styles of communication and humour. I’ve spent more years of my life in Japan than I have in Australia, but it won’t be long before the balance tips in the other direction. Danpen (Fragments) is a reflection of me, and my practice, right now. In creating my self-portrait, I have hand-carved two distinct shapes for every piece and brought them together into one, abstracted whole, reflecting the coming together of my two identities.

Danpen (Fragments) 2017 glazed porcelain Courtesy of the artist and Andrew Baker Art Dealer, Brisbane. 27

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National Self-Portrait Prize


Justine Varga

Justine Varga captures autobiographical experience on film using analogue techniques, with and without a camera. Her practice alludes to ruminations on time, presence and visibility. The photograph that you see before you derives from a strip of film that was marked by my tears. Earlier this year, while in another country, I had an upsetting conversation and ended up sobbing onto this sensitive photographic surface. The sheet of negative was temporarily glued to my exterior by the fluids secreted from my lachrymal puncta. Once peeled away, this negative embodied not the way I looked, but the way I felt. The act of crying offers a dual temporal and spatial perspective. Sorrowful crying, in particular, is often the result of a simultaneous looking backwards and forwards in time, along with a reaching out to be ‘there’. This photographic rendition of my emotions is a self-portrait that adds a further dimension of the public–private to this perspective: crying is the public display of the private details of the self. We are all redoubled and reflected as in this photograph, which has become a fragile armature of the self, an echo of an emotional memory.

Lachrymal 2017 chromogenic print hand-printed from 5” x 4” negative Courtesy of the artist and Hugo Michell Gallery, Adelaide. 28

NSPP

National Self-Portrait Prize


Carla & Lisa Wherby

Carla and Lisa Wherby are twin sisters who work as artistic collaborators. Drawing on memory, childhood stories, and their combined experiences of news and popular culture, their work takes on a multi-layered and fantastical aesthetic. Our collaborative, mixed media artwork on canvas has been executed in two parts – being identical twins, everything in life from infancy onwards is about ‘the number two’. Feeling like we have been on a stage performing all our lives might have triggered our love of pop culture. From strangers gawking at us in the conspicuous double-pram in childhood to our mother dressing us up identically, to the still tiring, almost daily, ritual of people asking us on the street if we are twins. We document our interest in social and political issues. Googling news and imagery to manipulate is a catalyst for the creation of many of our collaborative artworks, which is consistent with our pop aesthetic. Our overriding love of pop culture has been absorbed by us and reflected back through our artistic output. Our autograph-collecting fever first took hold at the ABC studios. We are now certain that our autograph-collecting hobby translated into our artistic practice, where drawing and text are prominent.

Read Carla and Lisa Wherby’s full atrist statement here

The mirror has two faces 2017 mixed media on canvas Courtesy of the artists. 29

NSPP

National Self-Portrait Prize


Terry Williams

Terry Williams is known for his soft sculptures, revealing a fascination with science fiction and anthropomorphic creatures; he employs everyday materials in a processdriven, handcrafted approach. This self-portrait captures Williams’s quirky sense of humour – he has presented himself in leopard-print pants, which is a far cry from the denim jeans he wears each day to the studio. Is this an alter ego? Is he provoking viewers to laugh at him? Or is the joke on us? Has he simply selected materials that bounce off each other, creating an interesting composition? Who knows? However, all the other details presented, including the check shirt, are faithful and quintessentially him. When asked directly about the piece, Williams stated the obvious – that it was ‘me [him] in a chair’ – which isn’t the title by the way. He decided to leave the work untitled and to keep us guessing. (Statement provided by Arts Project Australia.)

Not titled 2017 fabric, stuffing, vinyl and wool Courtesy of the artist and Arts Project Australia, Melbourne. 30

NSPP

National Self-Portrait Prize


William Yaxley

William Yaxley is a self-taught painter and sculptor, whose work has received recognition for his distinctive and now widely recognisable, idiosyncratic style. He began to paint at the age of 18 in order to document his time as a field assistant with BHP in Western Australia. His brightly coloured landscape paintings reflect these influences. My self portrait is set in an expanding universe where my chemicals will gradually disperse ...

The temporary centre of the universe 2017 oil on canvas Courtesy of the artist and Heiser Gallery, Brisbane. 31

NSPP

National Self-Portrait Prize


Paul Yore

Paul Yore’s multi-coloured needlepoints address themes of sexuality, politics and capitalism. He constructs large-scale artworks from his synthesis of popular culture, political news, religious dogma, and his own world-view. Sorry incorporates a range of disparate found and repurposed materials, including old blankets, clothing and children’s bedspreads, which in turn form a kind of ‘prepared canvas’ for layers of crude spray-painted text and scrawled pen markings. Yore’s work resonates strongly with the disobedience of the early gay pride movement and drag scene, and he sees his works as visibly potent affirmations of queer subjectivity. His use of debased images from mass media culture and throwaway sloganeering speaks to an anxious ‘post-internet’ and ‘post-truth’ socio-political context in which ‘shock and awe’ spectacle has attempted to replace any meaningful understanding of world events and the ideologies that underpin them. Sorry, the deliberately cryptic title of the work, is taken from a popular Justin Bieber song. It calls to mind the confessional used in Catholicism, and implies the heaviness of guilt and shame. The work shifts between images of the body as debased, naked and tortured, and the alluring drag queen–like sparkle of the richly embellished surface. (Statement from the artist’s gallery.)

Sorry 2017 mixed media textile and found objects, including fairy lights, enamel, sequins, buttons beads, blankets, toys, stuffing Courtesy of the artist, Neon Parc, Melbourne, and Hugo Michell Gallery, Adelaide. 32

NSPP

National Self-Portrait Prize


Alan Young

Alan Young paints from daily life, abstracting landscapes and figures with a bold palette. There is a quality of mapping within his work as he explores the intersection between people and place. My paintings are grounded in what I perceive through everyday experiences and observations. I am particularly interested in the relationships between people and place and how these intersect with notions around mapping. Sometimes, I capture moments and sometimes I tell stories. I have always struggled with doing landscapes without human features and portraits without landscape features. Sometimes, I call what I do people-scapes and I am embedded in the landscape. In this painting, the small ghost-like face is me looking on: ‘looking at me looking at you’. The house/face and two different triangles side by side are two different versions of the same person.

Self portrait 2017 synthetic polymer paint on canvas Courtesy of the artist and Colville Gallery, Hobart. 33

NSPP

National Self-Portrait Prize


The National Self-Portrait Prize is an invitation-only, biennial prize, which was first held in 2007, following the establishment in 2004 of UQ’s National Collection of Artists’ Self-Portraits. Previous winners include Ben Quilty (2007), Julie Rrap (2009), Domenico de Clario (2011), Nell (2013) and Fiona McMonagle (2015).

First published in 2017 by The University of Queensland Art Museum on the occasion of the exhibition: NSPP 2017 The University of Queensland Art Museum, Brisbane, Australia 11 November 2017 – 18 February 2018 © The University of Queensland, the artists and authors 2017 Views expressed in the publication are not necessarily those of the publisher. This publication is copyright. Apart from fair dealing for the purpose of private research, criticism or reviews, as permitted under the Copyright Act 1968 and subsequent amendments, no part may be reproduced by any means or process without the prior written permission of the publisher. Curators: Glenn Barkley and Holly Williams Coordinating Curator: Samantha Littley Copy Editor: Evie Franzidis Catalogue Design: Brent Wilson Project Manager: Gordon Craig Documentation: Carl Warner, except for photographs supplied by the artists or their representatives (pages 11, 28)

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National Self–Portrait Prize 2017  

The National Self-Portrait Prize is a $50,000 invitation only, biennial prize. Previous winners include Ben Quilty (2007), Julie Rrap (2009)...

National Self–Portrait Prize 2017  

The National Self-Portrait Prize is a $50,000 invitation only, biennial prize. Previous winners include Ben Quilty (2007), Julie Rrap (2009)...

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