Inaugural Judy Wheeler Commission recipient

Art Almanac congratulate Brisbane-based artist Elizabeth Willing as the first recipient of the recently established Judy Wheeler Commission. The new ten-year initiative is supported by a generous gift from the Simpson family with the view to fund an annual site-specific work by an Australian-based visual artist that responds to the architecture and history of the Perth Institute of Contemporary Arts (PICA).

Elizabeth Willing in front of her work Strawberry Thief, 2018. Photograph: David Kelly. Courtesy the artist, Museum of Brisbane, Queensland and Perth Institute of Contemporary Arts, Western Australia

Willing’s work is performative and often involves participatory explorations of food and hosting. Working across sculpture, installation, and performance, her work also manifests in the form of concept dinners; unique collaborative performances making use of the dining table as a stage for interactive designs and experiences. Her work has been exhibited both in Australia and internationally and she has undertaken several professional development mentorships and residencies.

The artist will receive support for the production of her site-specific work, which will respond to PICA’s entrance, defining how visitors engage with the space as they step in from Perth’s vibrant cultural centre.

“My artwork for the Wheeler Commission is closely linked to the architecture and sensory experience of the site, while remaining anchored in my ongoing investigations of hospitality,” Willing explains.

Elizabeth Willing, Pick-me-up, 2015–ongoing, Kinder Icekonfekt chocolates in wrappers and glue, 350 × 100 × 0.5cm each. Photograph: Gina Folly. Courtesy the artist, Tinguely Museum, Switzerland and Perth Institute of Contemporary Arts, Western Australia

Her large-scale textile creation looks to the Perth locale’s olfactory and sensory offerings, including that of the nearby Derbarl Yerrigan (Swan River), botanic gardens, and the wine region. From these explorations she will create an inventory of symbols that form their own performative, multisensory lexicon. The newly commissioned piece will be unveiled in February 2023 and will be on view for one year.

“We selected Elizabeth for her compelling proposal that explores the topic of hospitality, at an individual as well as institutional level,” shares PICA Curator Sarah Wall. PICA will work with Willing to develop the work throughout July to December this year.

The Commission will be open to all Australian-based visual artists annually. Artists working at any stage of their career and whose mediums include, but not limited to, painting, sculpture, sound, and video are eligible to apply.

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