Art prize pushes boundaries
The Ravenswood Australian Women’s Art Prize patron and judge Jennifer Turpin summed up the role art played over the past year, when she said: “Artists, as I've said, are agents for change, truth seeking and hope. And if there ever was a time when we should slow down to look and listen the way artists do it is now.”
Indeed, over the course of a very challenging year, our artists provided optimism, hope and inspiration.
The only national women’s art prize made an important change too, introducing the inaugural Indigenous Emerging Artist prize – won by Lynette Lewis.
It was fitting then, that the top prize – the Professional Artist accolade – was also awarded to an Indigenous woman for the first time in the prize’s history in Vicki Cullinan.
Unfortunately, being a national prize, COVID played havoc with the logistics of the presentation evening, which was moved from May to November, and neither Lynette nor Vicki (both from remote South Australia) were able to attend.
It didn’t dampen their excitement, of course, as they were judged winners from a record 1388 entrants – almost double the submissions from 2017.
“It is a national art prize and there is representation even in the finalists, let alone the entries, from every state and territory, and even from very remote regions in Australia, which is obvious with the winners this year,” explains Ravenswood Art Prize manager Kim Williams.
“We actually visited a number of remote Indigenous art studios in September (2019), and told them about the prize and encouraged them to enter and ensured they were able to stay engaged. So, it’s incredible to see the calibre of work from these areas that our judges were presented with this year!”
One victor who was able to able to receive her prize in-person was Emerging Artist winner Danielle Guyot, and Ms Williams tells North Shore Living it was a pleasure to see the joy it brought the extremely talented youngster.
Entries for the 2021 Ravenswood Australian Women’s Art Prize are already open, and winners will be announced in May – so if you plan to enter, get cracking!
Ms Williams wants to thank all of the event’s supporters, most notably platinum sponsor Stockland, as without their support none of this would be possible.
Professional Artist winner – Vicki Cullinan
Vicki became the first Indigenous winner of Ravenswood Art Prize’s Professional Artist category with her acrylic on linen artwork named ‘Munga Ilkari (The Night Sky).
In awarding the artist the top prize, the judges raved about the artwork, saying it is “a cosmic, ‘big picture’ view of the night sky, like the night sky itself, wondrous. An expansive transcendent work, it takes us out way beyond the frame to consider the cosmos and our tiny human role within it.”
Vicki – who is chairperson of Iwantja Arts in the central north desert region of South Australia – is “still over the moon”, according to Ms Williams.
In her acceptance speech, Vicki said she had no shortage of inspiration for the piece.
“For Anangu the stars hold Tjukurpa, song lines and stories, just like our country does,” she begins.
“At night, when I look to the sky – filled with stars – I feel safe and calm. The sky is an immense presence watching these lands, it is witness to everything here; the chaos, the beauty, the hard times, the laughter.
“The sky sees and knows everything. It holds all this energy and reflects back on us at night. It is forever and it is still.”
Emerging Artist winner – Danielle Guyot
Danielle was judged the winner of the Emerging Artist category, with her submission ‘Watagan Balga – Relic from a Forgotten World’.
The artwork, as described by the judges, is “an exquisitely crafted sculpture of a grass tree made from polystyrene foam cups. This is transformation of materials big time – a relic specimen of the natural world in Danielle’s words becomes a ‘ghost of itself’.”
The youngster from the Central Coast was the only winner able to attend the presentation in person, and she was visibly “blown away” by the recognition.
“You could see she was still in shock when she arrived, just a lovely, beautiful girl, very humbled and honoured to accept the prize,” grins Ms Williams.
Indigenous Emerging Artist winner – Lynette Lewis
It’s somewhat fitting that the winner of the inaugural Indigenous Emerging Artist would be a member of Australia’s oldest, continuously running Indigenous art centre – Ernabella Arts.
Lynette Lewis – from the far north west of South Australia – was selected by the judges for her acrylic on canvas artwork, ‘Tali Womikata’. It’s a design inspired by the ripples created by wind in the sand at the large, red sand dune near Ernabella.
“An exquisitely mesmerising work of great beauty, giving us an almost physical experience of the movement of wind over sands,” the judges commented.
“Like water itself, the tiny dots of this painting recreates the fluid dynamics of movement of wind and water.”
Professional Artist: Rosemary Valadon ‘Table of Broken Things’ and Catherine Nelson ‘Cartago’; Emerging Artist: Theresa Hunt ‘January 2020’ and Sue Grose-Hodge ‘Pencil on Paper’; Indigenous Emerging Artist: Jacqueline Phillipus Napurulla ‘Kalipinypa’ and Jenna Lee ‘Adronment of the Abhorrent’.
Entries to the 2021 Ravenswood Australian Women’s Art Prize are now open and close on 3 March 2021 at 12pm (EDST), with winners to be announced on 14 May 2021.