North Sydney Art Prize 2019 winners announced

The 2019 North Sydney Art Prize encouraged artists to explore the impact of climate change and consumerism in relation to Waverton’s Coal Loader Centre for Sustainability.

From the 115 works on show across varying landscapes of the redeveloped site, this year’s winners were chosen and officially announced on Saturday 2 March.

Canberra-based artist S.A. Adair the $20,000 Major Open Award, sponsored by North Sydney Council, for her sculpture Secrete. The immersive installation responds to the confined space of the Coal Loader Chambers to create an experiential and psychological environment. At once both wondrous and menacing, the work is a palpable and penetrating reflection of what lies within the human psyche. Oozing with dense, pendulous, web-like organic clumps, Secrete creates a type of subterranean environment – a space that lies within.

S.A.Adair, Secrete, felt and UV light, dimensions variable

‘In connecting with the site in this way, I’m interested in how the work could generate different responses in the audience and take them on a journey,’ says Adair. ‘To me, entering the tunnels and chambers is like entering a portal into an internal world – a space within a space with its patina of usage and history. Secrete aims to amplify the tone of this environment with growing forms and otherworldly lighting to touch on of the psychological residue of hidden memories and experiences.’

Geoff Farquhar-Still won the $15,000 Award for Sculpture, sponsored by Dexus. His winning work, Inferno Redux, displayed in the Coal Loader parkland, was designed and fabricated using Virtual and Augmented Reality. Working in collaboration with the Melbourne-based software development start-up Fologram, Farquhar-Still commissioned holographic modelling tools which facilitated the fabrication of the work, allowing his team to view and interact with the 3D model for the sculpture as they made it, without the use of shop drawings.

Farquhar-Still said: ‘The form of Inferno Redux was developed in Virtual Reality from the study of combustive forces in furnaces. In stark contrast to this, the final woven torus form is intended to evolve into an armature for plant-life and ultimately a protective space for small ground dwelling lizards and birds – a micro-habitat for the urban environment.’

Marta Ferracin, Echosonar, metal Slinkys, magnets, bass and parametric speakers, soundscape, iPods and amplifiers, 270 x 240 x 400cm

The recipient of the $7,500 Site-Specific Award was Marta Ferracin for Echosonar, displayed in a Coal Loader tunnel. The immersive acoustic installation is based on experiencing echolocation phenomena, which we find in nature. The artist has used bass and parametric speakers to transmit digitally-manipulated recordings of local microbats to reproduce this echolocation experience, allowing us to imagine how microbats can sense forms when surrounded by darkness. The soft light projected into the hanging Slinkies adds a visual memory of the spring’s vibrations by casting the image of soundwave-like shapes into the walls.

Marta Ferracin said: ‘I learnt that the microbats help to maintain a healthy environment by monitoring insect populations, and thus represent an invaluable part of the ecosystem at the Coal Loader tunnel. To sense their habitat and locate their prey, microbats reproduce a biosonar navigation system by emitting ultrasonic calls and responding to the returning echo that bounces off insects and other solid forms. I hope that, by exploring and communicating with the echo sonar environment on a deeper level like bats do, you can discover and activate new senses, such as auditory and visual information processed as internal and external sonic waves.’

Kathie Najar, Departure Pool, ceramic tiles, acrylic mirror and ply, 155 x 400cm

Chris Bowman has won the $1,000 Work on/with Paper Award for C6_4827 degrees, which explores the properties of carbon, evoking the absorbency of coal and the silver slate of graphite.

The $1,000 Award for Painting was given to Kathie Najar for Departure Pool, which references a time and place where diverse cultures lived harmoniously under one sky.

The $1,000 Award for Drawing was presented to Eva Nolan for The Pinned Moth Cannot Fly, which represents symbiotic ecosystems and reflects on the process of natural historical documentation.