Curated by Sebastian Goldspink 24 August – 14 September 2013 Gaffa Galleries 281 Clarence St, Sydney Opened by Dr Gene Sherman AM Chairman and Executive Director of Sherman Contemporary Art Foundation LUCAS ABELA DARA GILL VINCENT NAMATJIRA SAMUEL HODGE CHRIS BENNIE JESS OLIVIERI & HAYLEY FORWARD JOHN A DOUGLAS BRYDEN WILLIAMS TOM POLO LIAM O’BRIEN BENJAMIN FORSTER ELLA BARCLAY AARON ANDERSON MAUREEN BAKER GREEDY HEN SOPHIA EGARCHOS SIMON MacEWAN GEORGE EGERTON-WARBURTON KEG DE SOUZA SERENA BONSON SARAH CONTOS SVETLANA BAILEY Cover image: Sophia Egarchos, Levels #2, 2013, acrylic paint on wood pine frame, 140 x 140cm, © Sophia Egarchos/Licensed by Viscopy
Since July 2012 Copyright Agency and Viscopy have partnered to provide greater opportunities for artists and creators to earn income from licensing the use of their works. This year we’ve partnered to present the John Fries Memorial Prize. We’re especially pleased with the record number of entries this year with the strongest representation from Indigenous and New Zealand artists of any year. The quality of submissions not only demonstrates the skill of Australian and New Zealand contemporary artists but reflects confidence in the prize’s curator and judges. We would like to thank this year’s judges Dr Daniel Mudie Cunningham, Felicity Fenner, Dr Sanne Mestrom and Kath Fries who brought their recognised expertise and experience to the selection of the 22 finalists and a winner. We also thank Dr Gene Sherman AM, Chairman and Executive Director of the Sherman Contemporary Art Foundation, for her support and patronage of the prize. I would like to especially acknowledge the contribution of Sebastian Goldspink our Guest Curator. Sebastian’s standing in the Sydney arts community and his experience from leading initiatives such as Alaska Projects and Art Month have helped the prize mature to become an important part of Australia’s cultural calendar. We would also like to thank Curatorial Assistant Sophie Kitson. We hope the John Fries Memorial Prize Internship has provided her with valuable experience in developing and producing a contemporary art exhibition. We would also like to thank our venue partner Gaffa Galleries and our sponsors International Art Services (IAS), Little Creatures Brewery, Pipsqueak Cider and Nightingale Wines for their support. I would also like to acknowledge the Fries family who have generously donated the prize in memory of former Viscopy director and treasurer, John Fries, who made a remarkable contribution to Viscopy and through it, Australian visual artists. We hope you enjoy the exhibition.
Jim Alexander CEO Copyright Agency|Viscopy
The John Fries Memorial Prize was established in 2009 by the Viscopy board and the Fries family in recognition of the formative influence John Fries had on the development of Viscopy. John was a Viscopy Director and Honorary Treasurer for five years until his tragic and unexpected death. As an accountant with extensive experience in the corporate environment, John’s contributions to the Viscopy board were anchored in his realistic and forward-looking attitude and his empathic understanding of the financial challenges that face artists. John, as a father, was supportive of my decision to pursue a career as an artist – as he was of all his family and friends in developing their skills, exploring opportunities and pursing their dreams. The John Fries Memorial Prize now stands as an ongoing gesture of his generosity and encouraging attitude. 2013 is the fourth year of the John Fries Memorial Prize. It has grown from strength to strength each year with many previous winners and finalists continuing to achieve other significant milestones in their careers. My experiences over the past four years championing and directing the Prize have been insightful and exciting, working to promote the practice of other emerging and early career artists. Similarly, this Prize enables Viscopy to visibly participate in the contemporary art community beyond their core business activity of managing artists’ copyright licences. For the wider public, the John Fries Memorial Prize Finalists Exhibition offers a showcase of what’s occurring at the dynamic ‘emerging’ edge of the contemporary art scene, and heightens our expectations of the future.
Kath Fries Artist, Viscopy director, John Fries Memorial Prize judge and daughter of John Fries
The verb emerge has several key elements; chiefly that the object that is emerging moves out of or away from something to somewhere and in doing so appears different. In this way, the act of emerging could be considered more about the perception of the object’s position as opposed to a fundamental shift in its properties. This notion rings true when one considers emerging artists. For the artist, there is often a feeling that they have been working away for years and it is just now that an audience are starting to notice, to understand, to see the world through their vision. Their emergence is more about the perception of their work as opposed to a shift in its elemental nature – an acknowledgement that they are moving on a trajectory. For the 2013 John Fries Memorial Prize, a collection of emerging artists has been assembled as a representation of the vibrancy of Australia and New Zealand’s artistic breadth. The place that they have emerged from is varied – inner cities, suburbs, and remote rural locations. The somewhere that they have emerged to is equally as diverse. Their ultimate destination is fluid and infinite. What unites these artists is the act of moving, of progression. A car slowly meanders through a car park in suburban Brisbane in Chris Bennie’s work The Western Fields. From the dashboard the viewer witnesses the flight of small birds darting in seemingly choreographed forms. The natural trapped
in the fluorescent light of a contemporary labyrinth. Meanwhile a small, artificial, digital fire burns in Bryden Williams Techno Fire housed in a functioning recreation of his childhood family stove. The familial is also explored in Vincent Namatjira’s work as the artist proudly depicts the moment his grandfather was bestowed an honour by a Queen. In a different type of nostalgia, Sarah Contos’ eyes dart back and forth behind her totemic shrine to faded Australiana in Souvenir, the artist inserting herself within a constructed environment that mashes past realities rather than merely replicating them. John A Douglas digitally floats through time and space in The Visceral Garden in a constructed virtual environment while artists Lucas Abela and Benjamin Forster use reconfigured technology as a material, a canvas for expression rather than simply as a tool to render artistic intent. In this way, using the technological to order and examine reality or perhaps to reflect technology’s position as a new ‘meta’ reality. Photographer Samuel Hodge constructs a scene that challenges prejudice through a personal political statement that embraces hate and repackages it with a handsome knowing wink, creating a tension in viewers as they unpack two very different readings. Dara Gill also employs photography as a means to document anxiety in Untitled (Rubber Band Portraits), an experiment where the artist takes a photo at the moment a rubber band is flicked at the subject. These portraits
capture a relatable humanity where the human form is central. In Tom Polo’s work Fields of Uncertainty there is also an attempt to capture faces in movement, to document the in-between states of unease. In George Egerton-Warburton’s work Boredom is a Desk With Human Legs in a Fish Spa, the central figure is depicted in a parallel emotional turmoil, the landscape echoing around him as he descends further into madness or clarity. A desire to create alternate worlds or depict place is present in several artists’ works. Keg De Souza creates a nocturnal sanctuary in Living Under the Stars while Maureen Baker looks down from the stars over her father’s country in Ngayuku Mamaku Ngura. Simon MacEwan dreams an alternate landscape in his watercolour All That is Solid Melts Into Air, a cityscape in decline, a post apocalyptic vision of Australian civilisation where alien forms inhabit the detritus of destruction. As with Svetlana Bailey’s atmospheric photography of landscapes, part familiar and part alien, avoiding geographical placement, a sense of a world that seemingly exists only in imagination but through the proof of photography must reside in some far-flung frigid location. This sense of improbability is present in Ella Barclay’s work Ebb, where the technological is contrasted with the seemingly magical to create an evocative environment. The works of both Aaron Anderson and Sophia Egarchos bring viewers’ attention to corners, their work
enveloping peripheral vision in formbased installations – these interventions into space at once reflective of existing architectural elements but, in presentation, oppositional or additional. Jess Olivieri & Hayley Forward’s video work Harlequins V’s Visitors sings out over suburbia while Greedy Hen’s We Just Ignore the Neighbours imbues this world with a suggested sinister presence. Serena Bonson’s Wangarra Spirits stand guard proudly, the figures built from materials sourced from the artist’s homelands. As with all the works in this exhibition, the artists’ raw materials are the collective memories and elements of place and personal experience streamlined into a visual representation that allows the viewer a chance to see as they see, a chance to see the future. Liam O’Brien’s work Whistling in the Dark features a figure carrying a sack towards a finish line. In the same way, the emerging artist moves towards a goal carrying a history burdened and informed by their background, influences and experiences. This exhibition reflects and celebrates the commonality and difference of the journey undertaken by emerging artists, a journey worth the struggle but a struggle nonetheless.
Sebastian Goldspink Guest Curator
For the artist, there is often a feeling that they have been working away for years and it is just now that an audience are starting to notice, to understand, to see the world through their vision.
JO H N F RIES MEMORIAL P RIZE 201 3 | 2
LUCAS ABELA, FlipOff, 2013, plywood, pinball parts, electronics, 85 x 78 x 153cm © Lucas Abela/ Licensed by Viscopy
9 TOM POLO, Fields of Uncertainty, 2013, acrylic on polyester, 180 x 240cm, private collection, Sydney, © Tom Polo
16 SOPHIA EGARCHOS, Levels #2, 2013, acrylic paint on wood pine frame, 140 x 140cm, © Sophia Egarchos/Licensed by Viscopy
2 DARA GILL, Untitled (Rubber Band Portraits), 2010, lambda prints from C41 negatives, 105 x 105cm (3) © Dara Gill
10 LIAM O’BRIEN, Whistling in the Dark, (still) 2013, high definition single-channel video, 4.50 mins. Commissioned by Artbank. © Liam O’Brien/Licensed by Viscopy
17 SIMON MacEWAN, All that is solid melts into air, 2012, watercolour on paper, 104 x 66cm, © Simon MacEwan
3 VINCENT NAMATJIRA, Award, 2013, acrylic on linen, 61 x 101cm © Vincent Namatjira/Licensed by Viscopy 4 SAMUEL HODGE, Tickets Still Available, 2012, C-type print, 88 x 114cm © Samuel Hodge/Licensed by Viscopy 5 CHRIS BENNIE, The Western Fields, (still) 2012, video (HDV QuickTime file), 13.39 mins © Chris Bennie 6 JESS OLIVIERI & HAYLEY FORWARD, Harlequins V’s Visitors (with The Sydney Chamber Choir), (still) 2012, HD Video, 5.20 mins © Jess Olivieri & Hayley Forward/ Licensed by Viscopy 7
JOHN A DOUGLAS, The Visceral Garden, (still) 2013, HD video single-channel with sound, 16.47 mins, © John A Douglas/Licensed by Viscopy
8 BRYDEN WILLIAMS, Techno Fire, 2012, AV Sculpture, 120 x 120 x75cm © Bryden Williams/ Licensed by Viscopy
11 BENJAMIN FORSTER, Dysgraphia, 2013, deconstructed LCD screen, custom electronics, rock, dimensions variable. On loan from the Broderick Ely Collection, originally commissioned by the Australian Centre for Contemporary Art for NEW13. © Benjamin Forster 12 ELLA BARCLAY, Ebb, 2012-2013, acrylic tank, water, mist, projected video with looped sound, 7 mins, 13 x 145 x 50cm © Ella Barclay 13 AARON ANDERSON, Suburban Ruin #5, 2013, vinyl, plasterboard, wood, house paint, carpet, curtain rod, 127 x 155 x 112cm © Aaron Anderson 14 MAUREEN BAKER, Ngayuku Mamaku Ngura (My Father’s Country), 2012, acrylic on canvas, 120 x 200cm © Maureen Baker/ Licensed by Viscopy 15 GREEDY HEN, We Just Ignore the Neighbours, 2012, digital print on archival quality watercolour paper, 42 x 59.7cm, © Greedy Hen
18 GEORGE EGERTONWARBURTON, Boredom is a desk with human legs in a fish spa, (still) 2012, looped HD video, 6.20 mins © George Egerton-Warburton 19 KEG DE SOUZA, Living Under The Stars, 2012, inflatable architecture, LEDs, Arduino computers, fan, fake beaver fur, 2.5m height x 4.8m diameter © Keg de Souza 20 SERENA BONSON, Wangarra Spirits, 2013, stringy bark wood carving painted with ochre and pvc fixative, 188 x 13 x 10cm and 250 x 16 x 10cm © Serena Bonson/ Licensed by Viscopy 21 SARAH CONTOS, Souvenir, 2011, wood, found album covers, digital print on foam board, beads, sequins, K-Mart flannelette shirts, sewing pins, records, plaster, DVD player, flat screen monitor, DVD loop of artist’s eyes, 1.13 mins, dimensions variable © Sarah Contos 22 SVETLANA BAILEY, 13/11, 2013, type-C print, 120 x 150cm, © Svetlana Bailey
p r o u d ly p r e S e n t e d by
John Fries Memorial Prize 2013 exhibition catalogue.