For the fifth year in a row, Griffith University Art Gallery (GUAG) in South Bank, is hosting the Churchie national emerging art prize, one of the country’s most rewarding for emerging artists.
The exhibition is a platform for emerging artists from all over Australia to showcase contemporary art as seen through their eyes and this year 31 exceptional artists competed for the $15,000 prize money, donated by Brand+Slater Architects.
Caitlin Franzmann, a Brisbane based artist who has had four solo exhibitions in Brisbane and Istanbul (2012-14), emerged as the overall winner of the competition for her work – Magical Thinking.
Caitlin Franzmann’s Magical Thinking is a pack of 24 divination cards which provides a space and a moment for the gallery visitors to slow down and reflect on their lives through random symbology, chance and intuitive interpretations.
According to Alexie Glass-Kantor, the Executive Director of ARTSPACE Visual Arts Centre in Sydney, who had the demanding task of judging the set of 41 works of art , the specialty of Churchie which sets it apart from other awards is the diversity and breadth of practice from the artists. Everything from media, to works that rely on explosives, were represented and this aspect introduced an artistic complexity to the range of works.
“Choosing the finalist and the highly commended was a really difficult choice but it was interesting because we ended up with the works of three Queenslanders and all women, unintentional but nonetheless very exciting. The highly commended has gone to Clark Beaumont for an engaging three screen video installation called Waiting for Barcelona which is based on the Woody Allen feature film Vicky Christina Barcelona. The other highly commended work is one of the most discreet works in the exhibition, a work by the artist Sarah Poulgrain and it’s a beautiful little pine frame with two pieces of derelict and a sort of smattering holding an image of a self portrait of the artist, wrapped in a landscape isolated in her own reverie,” she said.
“The whole process of selecting the finalists took probably about three and a half hours and at the end of the day it came down to the fact that these three works, had such an idiosyncratic, creative and natural approaches to the making of contemporary art that they felt like the right winners of the day,” she added.
Unlike other art awards, the Churchie emerging art price has no restrictions, categories or themes hence the exhibition includes painting, sculpture and photography, through to mixed media installation and new media works.
GUAG Acting Director Naomi Evans says that when we build a nation from nothing, culture and art helps to shape the identity of the society. Art, is a platform that allows an individual to explore and express their perceptions about politics, religion, sexuality or personal stories of joy or trauma and although there might be sub topics that some people might find potentially challenging or unsavory, there is no censorship and art is chosen on their merit.
“I think the idea of ‘emerging’ is really interesting, since emerging artists can be of any age and that’s very important to us because across generations there are people who may have had an art practice earlier in their life but stopped making work, everyone has different challenges that emerge in their life so they can be of any age. But I really believe that, it’s people who have shown a commitment to their art practice even though they’re at an early stage of their art career who fall under this category,” she said.
The Churchie exhibition is free and open to the public from 1st August to 20th September, with all works for sale at the Griffith University Art Gallery, 11am – 4pm every Tuesday to Saturday.