Full list of 2021 Footscray Art Prize winners

Northern Territory-based artist Lee Harrop was awarded the $10,000 Footscray Art Prize for her sculptural work, titled And this, too, shall pass – a hand-engraved core sample from Yilgarn Craton, Western Australia, that interrogates the mining industry.

The judges – NGV’s Myles Russell-Cook, VCA’s Vikki McInnes, and freelance curator Kirsty Grant, observed that the work is ‘modest in scale and quiet in its presentation, but in this apparent simplicity, it has great power.’ They were impressed by the materiality of the object – solid and tactile – that speaks to a deep time.

Lee Harrop, And this, too, shall pass, hand engraved geological core sample from Yilgarn Craton, Western Australia

Core samples have become a regular feature in Harrop’s practice, influenced by her collaborations with Western Australian and Northern Territory Geological Core Libraries.

‘Utilising text and quoting a familiar adage that reflects on the temporary nature of human existence, it resonates widely, reminding us of our connections to the past and responsibilities to the future,’ concluded the judges.

As a PhD candidate at Charles Darwin University, Harrop explores the representations of mining, its connection to the wider global discourse about its environmental impact, and the present pandemic.

Simon Clark, Gaskin Gardens, paper and card collage, graphite, ink

A new category, the $10,000 Local Artist Acquisition Prize, has also been awarded to Sunshine-based artist Simon Clark for his work Gaskin Gardens (2020). The impact of the pandemic on our communities is a strong theme in the exhibition, and Clark’s intricately layered collage reflects on the confinement that many commission housing residents experienced during lockdown, intensified by the Brutalist exterior of the building; this was no utopia, quite the opposite. The artwork will be acquired into Maribyrnong City Council’s art collection.

The $5,000 Street Art Prize awarded to Macedon resident Emma Coulter. Her mural, Spatial deconstruction #25, to be installed in the next few weeks at Footscray Community Arts Centre (FCAC), will attempt to create a ‘window’ between the community and arts centre through the structured arrangement of colour on the building’s facade.

Scotty So, As She…, videos on holographic device, wood, velvet, perspex

Artists Ahmad Sabra and Scotty So received a residency with FCAC as part of the new Emerging Artist category. Sabra’s Anthem responds to the growing fear of Muslims in Australia by examining how Muslims are perceived in contemporary Australian society and by exploring the mechanisms of prejudice – how easy it is to make assumptions and establish stereotypes and challenge the perceptions of viewers. So’s As She… explores the fetishism of Oriental femininity in sci-fi films and advertisements. So recorded himself performing in his drag persona Scarlett, transferred the videos onto the hologram advertising device, creating the ghostly moving image of Scarlett that entertains the audience forever.

Miwa Wilson and Jayden Ly received the Young Artists Prize. Wilson winning the secondary category for To Grow Up, and Ly taking out the primary category for Growling Grass frogs and their habitat. Congratulations to all!

Works are on display at Footscray Community Arts Centre and VU at MetroWest until 5 June 2021. A digital catalogue and 360º video tour of the exhibition can be viewed online.