Congratulations to the 54 Australian and international artists announced as finalists for the 2021 Woollahra Small Sculpture Prize, presented for the first time in Woollahra Council’s new purpose-built gallery – the Woollahra Gallery at Redleaf – as its inaugural exhibition, opening to the public on Thursday 19 August 2021.
The sculptures – each measuring up to 80cm in any dimension – were selected from a record 844 entries by a judging panel comprised of Director Curatorial and Digital, Museum of Contemporary Art Australia Dr Lara Strongman, Art Historian, Curator and Industrial Archaeologist Joanna Capon OAM and celebrated artist and fashion designer Jenny Kee AO.
‘This year’s selection of small sculptures represents a snapshot of the great diversity of art practice in Australia today. From glorious kitsch to conceptual rigour, by way of politics and humour, the Award is a showcase for the creativity of Australian artists – both established and emerging.’
– Dr Lara Strongman
‘I was impressed by the quality and range of themes of the entries which spanned a number of different media and embraced a variety of references including the pandemic, ecology, hope and humour.’
– Joanna Capon OAM
‘I loved the creativity, quality and amazing diversity of the entries!’
– Jenny Kee AO
This year, to mark its 20th anniversary, the total prize pool was increased to $29,000 across four categories: the main Acquisitive Award of $25,000; a Special Commendation award of $2,000; the Viewers’ Choice award of $1,000; and the Mayor’s Award of $1,000. The finalists’ exhibition will also feature a range of public programs, including workshops and artist talks.
Politics, environment, identity and materials are key themes and trends in this year’s Prize.
A number of works respond to the current political and social climate with China Mask/ Incense Holder, Peony, No2 reflecting artist Scotty So’s experience of the COVID-19 pandemic and the Déjà vu of the 2003 SARs crisis in Hong Kong through the materiality of porcelain; Politics? by Michael Harrell is a multi-layered work considering themes of power, censorship and temptation with nude depictions of Vladimir Putin, Donald Trump and Kim Jong-Un; and, Samantha Mackie’s A Reliable Source – Set in Stone #1 considers the decline in the significance of encyclopedias and what we believe to be reliable sources of information.
Other works explore and celebrate our relationship with the natural world. Caroline Rothwell’s Faucet Palm juxtaposes our living natural system and the industrial circulatory system of the 21st century, while Jacquie Blight’s Breathe considers the balance found in natural ecosystems. Sue Hoare’s Bluebottle transforms discarded plastic bottles to comment on the contamination of oceans, and performance artist Lauren Brincat’s Butcher’s Dance captures the energetic movement of air.
Several artists explore issues around identity, including Yorta Yorta/Gunditjmara artist Josh Muir’s Seeing which considers the freedom of childhood naivety and his own journey of self-discovery and Mechelle Bounpraseuth’s My parents come from Laos, the land of condiments. Every bottle, every jar reminds me of them, which uses a series of sculpted condiment bottles to reclaim and decolonise her Laotian cultural heritage.
Many artists test the boundaries of a wide range of mediums, including Caroline Wright’s Knitted Gem, which blends knitting and ceramics in an ode to slow craft, and Italy based artist Seungwan Park’s use of machine-cut marble in his Romanesque bust titled Coexistence-Apollo.
The 20th anniversary Woollahra Small Sculpture Prize finalists are: Christine Appleby, Tamara Baillie, Jacqueline Blight, Mechelle Bounpraseuth, Lauren Brincat, Clare Britton, Lisa Carrett, Emma Coulter, Kate Coyne, Carol Lehrer Crawford, Beth Croce, Anne Delaney, Jan Downes, Ann Ferguson, Jason Fitzgerald, Natalie Guy (NZ), Michael Harrell, Sam Harrison (CAN), Shaun Hayes, Jenny Herbert-Smith, Sue Hoare, Kate Howard, Cara Johnson, Jules Jones, Lisa Jones, Maria Teresa Kuczynska, Jo Lane, Barbara Licha, Keith MacDonald, Samantha Mackie, Stuart McLachlan, Lilach Mileikowski, Ray Monde, Josh Muir, Elena Murgia, Mika Nakamura-Mather, Christina Newberry, Denese Oates, Amanda Page, Seungwan Park (ITL), Michelle Perrett, Sandra Pitkin, Rodney Pople, Lisa Porter (UK), Caroline Rothwell, Rhonda Sharpe, Patricia Smart, Scotty So, Jess Taylor, Jane Theau, Diane Thompson, Debbey Watson, David Wood, and Caroline Wright.