The Melbourne Prize for Urban Sculpture allows entrants to develop and expand their practice, redefining the possibilities for public art. This year’s finalist works had the power to inspire, shift perspectives and engage people in new conversations.
Art Almanac congratulates Maree Clarke, winner of the $60,000 Melbourne Prize for Urban Sculpture 2023. Clarke will receive direct professional development opportunities.
Clarke, a Mutti Mutti/Yorta Yorta and Boon Wurrung/Wemba Wemba woman from northeast Victoria, has been instrumental in the reclamation of southeast Australian Aboriginal art practices, reviving elements of Aboriginal culture that were lost – or lying dormant. A pivotal figure in the Victorian Indigenous art scene since the 1990s, Clarke has emerged as a leader, helping to nurture and promote the diversity of contemporary southeast Aboriginal artists. Her public art, sculpture, painting, and multimedia installations comprising painting and photography, explore the customary ceremonies, rituals and language of her ancestors. The artist’s continuing desire to affirm and reconnect with cultural heritage objects and items held in Museum collections has seen a revivification of the traditional possum skin cloaks, together with the production of contemporary designs of organic kangaroo teeth necklaces, 3D printed 18kg plated kangaroo teeth, materials for body adornments, river reed necklaces and echidna quills and glass eel traps.
The 2023 judging panel comprised three esteemed arts sector professionals: Emily Floyd artist; Kate Ten Buuren, Senior Curator, First Nations, Melbourne Arts Precinct; and Katharina Prugger, Curator of Contemporary Art at the National Gallery of Victoria.
The annual Melbourne Prize current cycle includes this year’s Melbourne Prize for Urban Sculpture, which will be followed by the Melbourne Prize for Literature (2024) and the Melbourne Prize for Music (2025).