Artist and Head of Sculpture Workshop, ANU
Firstly I would like to acknowledge that we are here on Ngunnawal land tonight. The Ngunnawal people being the traditional owners of Canberra.
As judges we decided to view this wonderful array of tapestries primarily as images and secondarily as fabrics. We considered the potent tradition of tapestry to tell a complex and layered story. We took on board the notions presented in the application of the prize as they apply to land, such asn ownership, preservation, economic, social, cultural and spiritual concerns.
Sara Lindsay, my co judge stepped into the role at the very last minute as Suzie Shears, the Director of the Victorian Tapestry Workshop withdrew at the last moment due to family commitments. Sara felt she would prefer to take a back seat in the judging process, therefore I took the role as head judge. So you will have to beat me up in the car park if you disagree with the judge’s decisions.
Sara and I walked around the display individually and made a pre-selection of works that held our attention. We were judging blind, that is we only had a number identifying the work, no names or artists statements or CV’s. Remarkably we were surprisingly close with a short list of 20 for the Professional prize and a short list of 10 for the Emerging Artist prize. We had something like 17 and 8 selections in common respectively. We came to the decision on the winner of the American Tapestry Alliance prize without consultation but we were unanimous in our selection.
After our initial short list it was evident that certain properties were catching our eye.
A scale of mark which was in concert with the overall size of the work seemed important as well as a sense of resolve and completeness to the piece.
We felt works needed to read from a distance as well as up close so that their pictorial and spatial values complemented the dynamics of a tapestry surface.
Ultimately we felt that a sense of space and how the artist drew us into their space and its complexities were essential.
I will begin the award process with the American Tapestry Alliance Prize, presented to No. 164: Irisa Blumate for her work “ULURU”.
Our choice here has a touch of irony about it. It seems fitting that an emblem of Australian land with all its complexities of meaning should be awarded the ATA Prize. We felt this work has a sense of celebration about it. Visually luscious colour and texture presents us with a tactile immediacy appropriate for the wonderful hands – on experience of tapestry. The symbolic imagery of ULURU fulfills all aspects of the intentions of the “LAND” prize referencing spirit, ownership, ecology, society and economy.
Judging the Professional and Emerging Artists prize was difficult and we have decided to highly commend several works in each section.
In the Emerging Artist section we highly commend:
No. 74: Jo Kehyaian for her beautiful piece “untitled” and
No. 50: Joan Korn for her sublime work “Vast Land”
The winner is No. 101: Amy Cornall “Basalt (Memories of Mt Ossa)”
“Basalt (memories of Mt Ossa)” has a sense of quite containment while appearing monumental. It’s pared back palette of warm and cool greys shimmer in airy contrast to dark and starkly abstracted land form. There is a poetic balance between positive and negative within the composition and a subtle use of surface which beautifully describes a well considered picture plane through the tapestry process.
In the Professional Artist category we have highly commended:
No. 2: Joyce E. Hayes for “Conciliation Land”
No. 15: Susan Martin Maffei for “Morning River”
No. 38: Kirsten Glasbrook for “Land Definition One” and
No. 67: Jae Kyung Lee for “Misty Land”
These are all visually stunning and conceptually strong works. Congratulations.
However there is one winner and it a work that tugged at me and bought me back to it time and time again. It is No. 1: “Near Nhill 1 & 2” by Cheryl Clark Thornton.
“Near Nhill 1& 2” is a tiny art work which presents us the idea of vast physical and psychological spaces; for me it resonates with Blainey’s tyranny of distance. This highly resolved composition embodies a pulse and rhythm of Land through varied scale of mark and a clear but subtle palette. The space in-between the two parts of the work adds a conceptual edge, a nod to absence or a solitary humanity. Equally the work implies movement through a landscape and viewing this work I personally was pulled back to remembered landscapes of wheat paddocks and mirages – slow car journeys with the windows down on hot days. This work palpably speaks of land. Congratulations, Cheryl, on a consummate piece.
I would like to thank all the artists for their participation and congratulate them for making Land a highly successful event. Further to this I would like to commend Vallerie Kirk and her team here in Textiles at ANU for their amazing commitment to a good idea.