Inaugural Environmental Art and Design Prize finalists

Two hundred and twenty-eight finalist works selected for exhibition across three arts spaces: Manly Art Gallery, Creative Space North Curl Curl, and Mona Vale Pop Up Gallery have been announced for the inaugural ‘Environmental Art and Design Prize’. Selected from 826 entries, the finalists will be reviewed by the judging panel comprised of artist Euan Macleod; artist, designer and curator Liane Rossler; and CEO and Artistic Director of the Australian Design Centre, Lisa Cahill.

The Environmental Art and Design Prize celebrates contemporary arts practices that are socially engaged, environmentally aware and seek to enrich and contribute to positive change through a creative approach. The finalist works have been selected across the categories of Wearable Design, Functional Design, Digital, Works on Paper and Photography, Ceramics and Small Sculpture, Painting, Interdisciplinary Collaboration, and a separate youth category for creatives aged 7 to 18 years old.

Kai Wasikowski, The Subjunctive Mood #4

At Manly Art Gallery & Museum, works with a contemporary art practice will be displayed, while wearable and functional design will be on display at Curl Curl Creative Space and youth finalists will be shown at Mona Vale Pop Up Gallery.

The Prize is an inclusive and diverse exhibition that celebrates the vibrancy of the arts and design community within and beyond the Northern Beaches. The finalist works showcase artists and designers who have a keen interest and focus on the natural world, environmental renewal, regeneration and the circular economy in their work.

‘As climate change looms large creating a collective anxiety and overwhelm, art and design can engage us with what’s possible and remind us of the beauty inherent in our natural world. I was so excited to see the fantastic entries for the prize that point to positive solutions for the future.’

– Lisa Cahill

Highlights across the categories include:

Wearable Design: Ruth Downes’ face masks repurposed as a collar to reflect on the rise of single-use products during the past year due to COVID-19; Bethany Cordwell’s Waste Age that takes recycled materials including IKEA bags and jumping castle tubing to highlight the excessive waste and rapid consumerism within the current fashion industry; and Ivy Whiteman’s WHY THE SEA IS BOILING HOT channelling the spirit of joy and optimism present in the Northern Beaches’ 80s surf culture for a line of clothing made from recycled materials and dyed with organic matter including food waste and plants.

Matthew Harkness, Bioplastic Waste Dustpan & Brush

Functional Design: Creative approaches and materials are seen in this category of things we use in our everyday life, including Matthew Harkness’ Bioplastic Waste Dustpan & Brush, a dustpan and brush created by a 3D printer; Marta Figueiredo’s STARDUST Lamp made from recycled resin in the designer’s studio; and Jessie French’s Algae bioplastic tableware made from Algal polymer derived from red macroalgae and is entirely biodegradable.

Digital: Film and video works feature in this category, including Zan Wimberley’s Coal and Ice using schlieren imaging for flow visualisation to manipulate light in order to visualise Co2; and Alyson Bell’s TREE SPIRITS, filmed travelling through a landscape of blackened forest in the aftermath of the NSW South Coast bushfires in 2020.

Leila Jeffreys, The Wound is the Place Where the Light Enters – Bleeding Heart Dove

Works on Paper and Photography: Works in this category look at our relationship to nature, including Kai Wasikowski’s The Subjunctive Mood #4 taken during a trip to China and layered with text from Google Translate to explore the history of national parks and settler conservation movements; Sadhbha Cockburn’s Sovereignty cannot be seeded which features plantable postcards made from handmade paper embedded with wattle seeds considering the effects of colonisation on the natural flora of Sydney; and Jo Neville’s Giant bespoke Paper Waterlilies, created for set design with a circular design approach.

Ceramics and Small Sculpture: Featuring ceramics reflecting on environmental themes as well as sculptures using natural materials, including Charlie Lawler’s Take a breath made from the cleansing and detoxifying material of charcoal; Louis Pratt’s coal sculpture Elemental Rising condemning the burning of fossil fuels; and Jan Downes’ porcelain Still the water: Meltdown representing the melting icecaps in Antarctica.

Sarah Robson, The Unfolding of Reason

Painting: Sarah Robson’s The Unfolding of Reason which is painted on felt and reflects on overconsumption and excess; and Greg Weight’s Birdwood sunrise that takes a photograph of bushland taken prior to the area being devastated by the 2019/2020 bushfires and layers it with paint to pay homage to the beauty and fragility of the Australian wilderness.

Interdisciplinary Collaboration: Jennifer Turpin and Michaelie Crawford’s Phyllospora Comosa (Crayweed) I made from seaweed highlights the restoration work of ‘Operation Crayweed’ in Sydney’s coastal waters, and Donna Davis’s video work Displaced [TRANSplant IV].

Youth: Split into two categories for entrants aged 7 to 2 and 13 to 18, the works in this category include Abelia Chung’s Coronavirus under the lens demonstrating the effects of the environment on human health with the collaboration of art and science; and Jemima Grimmer’s Reef; Before and After, highlighting the anxiety younger generations feel in the face of the climate crisis.

The winners of the inaugural Environmental Art and Design Prize will be announced to mark the exhibition opening. Due to current health restrictions, the exhibition has been deferred, and dates will be provided when NSW Health restrictions are eased.

For a full list of finalists and their works, visit

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