Michael Cook wins Sunshine Coast Art Prize 2016

From 625 entries and forty finalists, Sunshine Coast-based photographer Michael Cook’s Mother – Tennis (2016) took match point, winning this year’s $25,000 Sunshine Coast Art Prize, announced at a special event held at Caloundra Regional Gallery on Thursday 1 September.

A thought-provoking photograph that explores the sense of loss, Michael Cook’s work is part of his most recent series entitled Mother, a journey through 13 images of a woman in a deserted Australian landscape. The mother is always alone, her baby absent, although evidence remains of there having been a child: the empty pram, the abandoned toys on the hopscotch court, the slackness of the skipping rope. These images possess an arrested stillness that implies a recently bereft status. While these images speak directly and poetically to Australia’s Stolen Generation, they speak also to a universal experience of disconnection between mother and child.

This year’s judge, esteemed arts writer, curator and educator, Jane Deeth described Cook’s work as a beautifully realised work.

“The work invites us to examine every detail very closely, revealing layers of profound loss and longing that can be read in many ways from the most personal to the most political, and connecting to memories and histories that continue to haunt the present,” Deeth said.

Cook will receive a $25,000 cash prize sponsored by Audi Centre Sunshine Coast and Sunshine Coast Council as well as an artist residency courtesy of Montville Country Cabins. The winning artwork will become a part of the Sunshine Coast Art Collection,  encourage enjoyment and awareness of the visual arts while supporting our creative arts community.

Michael Cook, Mother – Tennis

Melbourne-based artist Cyrus Tang was announced as the $5,000 Highly Commended winner for her photographic work entitled 7403.00s (2016).

In awarding the Highly Commended Award, judge Jane Deeth described Tang’s work as a delicately alluring conceptual piece. “This piece enacts events that are befalling our contemporary world – flood, tsunami and the destruction of war,” she said. “The work is subtle, capturing time and encouraging close scrutiny, its immediate impact belying this devastation.”

In her work, Tang seeks to portray absence as a presence. The artist is moved by the collateral damage of man-made wars that have given rise to mass migration and homelessness, as well as catastrophic natural disasters. Part of a photographic series for which Tang made models of a city that she then destroyed by drowning over and over again as if by earthquake, war or tsunami. She documents the process of city from presence to absence by using long exposure technique. Each photograph is titled by its long exposure time of a city collapsed into nothing.

Cyrus Tang, 7403.00 s

Caloundra Regional Gallery
Until 2 October, 2016


Michael Cook, Mother – Tennis, 2016, digital photograph inkjet on photo rag, 80 x 120cm
Courtesy the artist
Winner of the Sunshine Coast Art Prize 2016

Cyrus Tang, 7403.00s, 2016, archival giclee print, 90 x 90cm
Sunshine Coast Art Prize 2016 Highly Commended