The John Fries Award 2015
4 September 2015 6-8pm
- When 5 Sep - 10 Oct 2015
CNR OXFORD ST & GREENS RD PADDINGTON NSW 2021
TUES TO SAT, 10AM-5PM
+61 2 8936 0888
The annual John Fries Award presents new and experimental works from emerging Australian and New Zealand artists. Since the awards and associated exhibition were established in 2010, it has become a platform and launching pad for early career visual artists.
This year the winner of the John Fries Award is remote West Australian Aboriginal artist Ben Ward.
Ward is the first Aboriginal artist, and the first Western Australian, to take out the $10,000 Copyright Agency | Viscopy John Fries Award for emerging artists for his painting Our Country. Despite picking up a paintbrush just four years ago, 65-year-old Ward, a paraplegic, has developed a distinctive painting style: using brightly coloured tessellating triangles to depict his local Miriwoong country. He paints almost daily at the Waringarri Aboriginal Arts Centre in Kununurra.
This year, the awards were structured to give more time for artists to develop their work specifically for the Award and Exhibition. Guest Curator Oliver Watts says it is this structure that makes the John Fries Award unique compared to other contemporary art prizes.
“In the past, the Curator of the John Fries Award has guided how the Finalist Exhibition comes together, but over recent years, the role has become even stronger. This year, it is a collaborative process where I work closely with the artists to help them develop and shape the work they submit,” Watts said.
“Across the board, the exhibition is characterised by its wit, satire and a nod to the absurd. Even paintings and sculptures tend to inflect fantasies of reality rather than represent it head-on. The works are not heroic but, like a king’s fool, they’re more like a whisper in the ear. So with this in mind, A Jester’s Whisper is a fitting title for the show,” he said.
The Award was established by the Fries family in memory of former Viscopy director and honorary treasurer, John Fries, who made a remarkable contribution to the life and success of the organisation. The 2015 judges of the non-acquisitive $10,000 prize is cross-disciplinary artist Nell, Art Gallery of NSW Head Curator of International Art Justin Paton, Viscopy Board Member Kath Fries and Oliver Watts.
This year's finalists include UNSW Art & Design graduates Tully Arnot, Tim Bruniges, Leo Coyte, Kelly Doley and Giselle Stanborough, alongside Erin Coates, Georgie Roxby Smith, Eloise Kirk, Kenneth Merrick, Archie Moore, Darcell Apelu, Will French, Vincent Namatjira and Biljana Jancic.
This is the second year that UNSW Galleries have supported the John Fries Award.
In conjunction with the John Fries Award exhibition, A Jester’s Whisper, UNSW Galleries will host two public talks in partnership with The Copyright Agency.
A guided tour with curator Oliver Watts
When: Tuesday 15 September, 2-3pm
Where: UNSW Galleries
Curator Oliver Watts presents a guided tour of A Jester’s Whisper, concluding with a Q&A session.
When: Thursday 17 September, 6-7pm
Where: Lecture theate EG02, UNSW Art & Design, Paddington Campus
Oliver Watts with finalists Giselle Stanborough and Will French present a series of performative lectures that delve deeper into their work. UNSW Galleries will also extend their hours until 6pm for guests to view A Jester’s Whisper before the lectures begin.
To attend either event, please RSVP by 11 September here.