The ‘Fremantle Arts Centre Print Award’, the nation’s richest and most prestigious print award, reaches a remarkable feat, celebrating 40 years of presenting the best in printmaking from established, emerging and cross-disciplinary artists. Over the past four decades, the Award has played an enormous role in showcasing the evolution of this art process, featuring its various forms from the traditional to the controversial.
Supported by Little Creatures Brewing, the Award returns in 2015 with a national judging panel and $22,000 in prize money. On Thursday 24 September, Fremantle Arts Centre announced this year’s winners: Fiona MacDonald, Narelle Jubelin, Maria Madeira and Victor De Sousa were awarded the First Prize of $16,000 for their collaborative work Elastics / Borrocha / Elástico (2012 Timor-Leste Mobile Residency Archive).
In 2012, these four winning artists travelled to eleven of the thirteen districts in a mobile residency in East Timor. They recorded everyday life and the inspirational work of women weavers and traditional builders whose resilient cultural upkeep subversively aided the forty-year liberation struggle following Portugal’s decolonisation of Timor Leste. This Australian-led project, facilitated by the late curator Jennifer Phipps, delves into the history of one of our closest regional neighbours, presenting an insight into Timorese culture and crossing cultural boundaries through print. The work’s title ‘Elastics / Borrocha / Elástico, borrowed from the universal collaborative children’s jumping game, speaks to the flexibility and resilience of the East Timorese people. This vibrant offset lithograph, printed by Big Fag Press Sydney, has a lineage in political poster art and features a collection of images depicting aspects of Timor-Leste culture, printed in various-sized squares and overlayed with bold patches of colour.
The 2015 judging panel, consisting of Marian Crawford, Maurice O’Riordan and Gemma Weston, commended the group’s winning print for its collaborative nature:
“In this folio of 10 prints, the Timorese tais (traditional weaving) is presented as a form of resistance, resilience and artistic vernacular that identifies this newly formed democracy, and as an enduring symbol of social change,” the judges said.
Western Australian artist Teelah George was awarded the Second Prize of $6,000 for her exquisitely fragile found-printed banner Effect of Dose on Taste (New Phase) – a work she will destroy following the exhibition. George found the decade-old banner abandoned on a wall in North Fremantle, salvaging and repurposing it for the 2015 Award with a painstakingly hand-stitched canvas border. In altering the banner’s purpose and presenting it in an exhibition, George challenges the value placed upon art objects.
“There is a sense of embodiment, the banner’s instability and fragility poignantly reminding us of our own mortality,” the judges said. “This found printed object questions legibility, conservation, fugitive ink, presence, and has become an exquisite, entrancing and ambivalent artefact.
“It has been plucked from a place where it had lost its value to be elevated and then returned to loss. This work explores the life cycle of the printed object and the temporal nature of a printed image.”
The judges also highly commended 1999 winner Raymond Arnold’s intricate etching Elsewhere World (10th State), Virginia Fraser and Elvis Richardson’s tongue-in-cheek feminist magazine cover FEMMOTM Issue 1, 2, 3., Emma Jolley’s lost, domestic dream Swim Swam Swum and Rebecca Shanahan’s ode to the book “from the series I had but could not keep”.
Fremantle Arts Centre
Until 15 November, 2015
Fiona MacDonald, Narelle Jubelin, Victor De Sousa, Maria Madeira, Elastic / Borracha / ElÃ¡stico (2012 Timor- Leste Mobile Residency Archive) (detail), 3/30, 2014, offset lithograph,135cm x 275.5cm. Printer: Artists and Big Fag Press
Teelah George, Effect of Dose on Taste (New Phase), 2015, 1/1, found vinyl banner, canvas, thread, photographic documentation, 197 x 400 x 4cm