A thought-provoking textile piece that draws attention to the “fly in, fly out” phenomena in Australia has won the Sunshine Coast Art Prize 2017.
From 461 entries, well-known artist Raquel Ormella was announced as the $25,000 prize winner for her work Worker’s Blues #1 at a special event held at Caloundra Regional Gallery tonight (August 31).
Ormella, whose winning work will now sit in the Sunshine Coast Art Collection, has a national reputation as a social-political commentator.
Her work has been acquired by major collections across the country, including the National Gallery of Australia, Canberra; Queensland Art Gallery I Gallery of Modern Art, Brisbane; Art Gallery of New South Wales, Sydney; and the Museum of Contemporary Art, Sydney.
Worker’s Blues #1 was inspired by the idea of workers being temporarily imported into remote locations and, as a consequence, exported from their families.
More than 250 dignitaries, artists and guests joined Acting Mayor Cr Tim Dwyer and judge Angela Goddard for the official exhibition opening and winner’s announcement.
Sunshine Coast artist Jennifer Herd was announced as the Highly Commended winner for her work entitled Nine Queensland Shields.
Queensland artist Abbey McCulloch’s entry Exile earned her the Sunshine Coast Art Prize residency.
Cr Dwyer said the Sunshine Coast Art Prize had become one of the Coast’s signature annual art events for both local and national artists, culminating in an exhibition of some of the best contemporary Australian art.
“The winning piece, Worker’s Blues #1, comments boldly and bravely on a lifestyle that has become familiar to many Queensland, including Sunshine Coast, communities and families,” Cr Dwyer said.
“Its selection as the winning art piece for 2017 will polarise opinion and add to a growing Sunshine Coast Art Collection which aims to capture and document developments in broader contemporary Australian visual art practice.”
Judge Angela Goddard said Worker’s Blues #1 had a lot to say about the current state of work in our country.
“She’s used an unexpected medium – the heavy cotton drill of the classic mining industry work uniform – cut and resewn into a form that is reminiscent of protest banners,” Ms Goddard said.
“The fluorescent ‘high vis’ colours grab your attention and convey her message immediately.
“When we think about it, the ‘fly in fly out’ worker has become emblematic of both aspiration and sacrific.
“We know that these jobs often mean higher wages, but they also necessitate forgoing time with family.
“Jennifer Herd’s pinhole works Nine Queensland Shields can be enjoyed as minimal abstract patterns, exploring delicate shadow effects, but there is a deeper message here.
“These works speak of the violence of the frontier wars, and these patterns are actually drawn from traditional aboriginal shield designs from Herd’s ancestral lands in the Atherton Tableland region.
“Abbey McCulloch’s painting Exile is beautifully layered and atmospheric, conveying a sense of being both inside and outside one's body and mind at the same time.
“I look forward to seeing what the residency might bring to her practice.”
Art lovers can vote for their favourite artwork in the exhibition by visiting Caloundra Regional Gallery and voting online via council’s gallery website before October 3. A $100 voucher from the gallery gift shop is up for grabs for one lucky entrant.
The artist who receives the most public votes will win the People’s Choice Award and receive a $2500 cash prize, sponsored by the Caloundra Chamber of Commerce.
The exhibition will be on display at Caloundra Regional Gallery until October 8.
The Sunshine Coast Art Prize 2017 is supported by Audi Centre Sunshine Coast and Sunshine Coast Council (Major prize), De Deyne family (Highly Commended prize), Caloundra Chamber of Commerce (People’s Choice prize), Montville Country Cabins and Caloundra Regional Gallery (Art Prize Residency) and International Art Services (Transport).
For more details about the Sunshine Coast Art Prize, visit council’s gallery website.
ABOUT THE ARTISTS
Raquel Ormella is an artist working at the intersection of arts and activism. Her practice encompasses video, installation, drawing and zines and she has exhibited regularly in national and international exhibitions since 1999. She has won numerous prizes and grants including the prestigious Fishers’ Ghost Art Award, Campbelltown Art Centre, NSW, 2012 and her works have been acquired by major collections across the country, including the National Gallery of Australia, Canberra; Queensland Art Gallery I Gallery of Modern Art, Brisbane; Art Gallery of New South Wales, Sydney; Museum of Contemporary Art, Sydney.
Jennifer Herd is a Sunshine Coast-based Aboriginal artist whose pin drawings of shield designs reference the Bama warriors of the rainforests in the Atherton Tableland region of North Queensland, the artist’s ancestral country.
Abbey McCulloch’s paintings of the female persona, while grounded in the tradition of self-portraiture, explore a vast range of emotions, and evoke feelings of the struggle between risk and hesitation. She has been named as one of Australia’s 50 Most Collectable Artists by Art Collector three times, as well as being a finalist in the Archibald Prize on three occasions.
Image: Acting Mayor Cr Tim Dwyer, Raquel Ormella and Karen Moye, Audi Centre Sunshine Coast