Woollahra Small Sculpture Prize 2019 winner

Sydney-based artist Merran Esson has won this year’s $20,000 acquisitive Woollahra Small Sculpture Prize for her work, Autumn On The Monaro.

‘Merran Esson has made a beautiful work that evokes the forms and atmosphere of the Monaro autumn. The winning work displays a masterful use of material, palette and form but at the same time it has a warmth of emotion which draws the viewer into its field,’ said Professor Ross Harley, Dean of the Faculty of Art & Design and UNSW Chair of Arts and Culture, who guest judged this year’s prize with Louise Herron AM, Chief Executive Officer, Sydney Opera House, and Tim Ross, Design and Architecture advocate, broadcaster, author and comedian.

‘Each piece of the winning work is superbly crafted with unique detail. The work as a whole is made even more beautiful by that diversity, much like nature itself,’ added Herron.

Merran Esson, Autumn On The Monaro, fired ceramics, 30 x 70 x 70cm. Courtesy the artist and Woollahra Small Sculpture Prize

Sydney artist Benjamin Jay Shand was awarded the Special Commendation (a $2,000 non-acquisitive award) for Array 3, and artists Kieta Jackson, from Norwich, England, and Jessica Leitmanis, from Torquay, received a special mention for their works Braggadocio 1, 2018 and Spouts from which to drink, circa 200 C.E., respectively. The judges praised the works for their multidimensionality and execution of control, form and palette.

‘What set this work apart was the story it told around the collection of discarded items from one place that are salvaged and turned into something beautiful. The work highlights the beauty in the disposed and maintains a sense of humour while speaking to more serious issues around the ocean and waste,’ said Ross of Lietmanis’ work.

The 2019 Mayor’s Award, valued at $1,000, has been awarded to Adelaide artist Jane Price; ‘I was captivated by the elegance and simplicity of Clouds,’ said Mayor of Woollahra, Susan Wynne. ‘The three layers of porcelain appear to float with all the fragility of delicate clouds – it is just beautiful.’

The Plinth prize was awarded to Erica Izard for Homage to Grief; ‘ homage to the stages of grief that are often experienced in private and hidden from others and yet are an unavoidable part of being human,’ says the artist.

The 2019 Woollahra Small Sculpture Prize attracted 634 entries ­ each for a freestanding sculpture of up to 80cm in any dimension; ­ submitted by artists from Australia, New Zealand and the United Kingdom, highlighting its growing international reputation.

All finalist works will be displayed as part of a free public exhibition at Woollahra Council in Sydney, from 12 October ­to 3 November 2019; supported by a program of free events including artist talks and creative workshops with artists as well as guided tours.

Viewers’ Choice to be announced at the conclusion of the exhibition. Don’t forget to cast your vote!