Finalists for the 2019 John Fries Award announced

The ‘John Fries Award’ is a $10,000 non-acquisitive prize which recognises the talents of early career visual artists from Australia and New Zealand whose practices reach across a multiple of disciplines and is now in it’s tenth year. The 2019 award and exhibition, curated by Melbourne-based visual arts curator and writer Miriam Kelly will be showcased at UNSW Galleries located in Paddington, Sydney at the UNSW Art & Design campus, from 21 June to 27 July with the announcement of the winner taking place at the opening event on Friday 21 June.

Madison Bycroft, Gong Farmer Shit Stirrer and the maiden of grief, 2019, two-channel digital video, colour, sound via walkie talkie, second channel of text via small monitor, long pile fur, plaster, jesemonite, 18:41 mins loop. Courtesy the artist and Copyright Agency, Sydney

Ten finalists combining a total of 12 artists, with two collaborations, have been selected from almost 500 entries from this year’s call out by a judging panel made up of the 2019 curator Miriam Kelly, Director of UNSW Galleries José Da Silva, contemporary Indigenous artist and founding member of Boomalli Aboriginal Artist Co-operative Fiona Foley, CEO of Studio Gabrielle Mordy, and artist Kath Fries, former Viscopy board member and daughter of the late John Fries.

The finalists in the running for the 2019 ‘John Fries Award’ are:

Betty Chimney & Raylene Walatinna (SA); painting around the Indulkana Community (Yankunytjatjara), David Greenhalgh (ACT); moving image and installation, Dean Cross (NSW) installation, sculpture and photography (Worimi); Elena Papanikolakis (NSW) painting, collage, text, photography and drawing, Hayley-Millar Baker (VIC); photography (Gunditjmara), Jenna Lee (UK); painting, print-making, digital illustration and sculpture (Larrakia, Wardaman and Karajarri), Justine Youssef (NSW); moving image, performance and sculpture, Madison Bycroft (SA); moving image, performance and sculpture, Nadia Hernàndez (NSW); moving image and photography, and The Ryan Sisters (Pip and Natalie Ryan) (VIC); installation.

Betty Chimney and Raylene Walatinna, Nganampa Ngura (Our Country), 2018, acrylic on linen, 122 x 152cm. Courtesy the artists and Copyright Agency, Sydney

‘Some artists on this list are already known by many, while others may be new to some. This is something we have come to enjoy and expect from the John Fries Award over the past decade,’ notes Kelly, continuing that each of the artists are ‘distinct in their approaches to materials and conceptual considerations, their practices showcase a broad spectrum of multi-disciplinary art, yet for this exhibition finalists are drawn together by an interest in storytelling, and the roles of language and intergenerational learning in shaping our futures.’

A number of the artists currently work, or have worked internationally. Canberra-born Lee who relocated to London in 2018 to pursue her dream of creating art inspired by ancestral objects held within some of the largest and oldest collecting institutions works between the UK and Brisbane. Bycroft is based Paris and Adelaide, while Venezuela-born Nadia Hernàndez investigates ‘the diasporic experience of a Venezuelan woman living abroad’ in her arts practice, and Cross has also had the experience of an international career as a dancer and choreographer.

The Fries family established this award in 2010 in memory of former Viscopy director and honorary treasurer, John Fries, who made a remarkable contribution to the life and success of the organisation.