QANTAS FOUNDATION : WINNERS’ CIRCLE
It might be a mouthful but we (being the CCAS social pages) always love to go to the QANTAS Foundation Encouragement of Contemporary Art Awards, if for no other reason than it’s an award worth encouraging. One artist from every state and territory is the fortunate recipient of $6,000 travel and $3,000 cash plus $3,000 for a community project. The presentation nights are great with excellent wine and savouries, and one can also bathe for a few indulgent moments in the glory of a winners’ circle. This year the host was Artspace, Sydney
But firstly, the lovely Donna Ingram made everyone feel very Welcome to the Country of the Gadigal people. Then, in her introduction, MCA Director, Elizabeth Ann McGregor noted that the judges challenging task was even harder this year and I actually believe her ! Three artists are nominated by CAOs contemporary art spaces and of 21 nominees all are well worthy. Liz Ann also pointed out that this is not a prize but an award that is based on a body of work – an important distinction. In other words it’s no lottery! In recent years it has become something of a tradition for an artist of note to deliver an opening speech rolling pearls of wisdom before the recipients, most of whom are just starting out on their careers. Last year it was Vernon Ah Kee and last night it was Ben Quilty. Ben gave a brilliant speech (with scarcely a hint of sermon) covering everything from his early family life, going to art school, being Irish, being Australian, war, the poor treatment of Aboriginal Australians to gay marriage. Sounds dead serious but it was extremely entertaining, as well as being dead serious. After the speeches and award presentation I had the opportunity to meet the artists and take a few snaps of the artists meeting each other. It’s a cordial affair indeed; the excitement and sense of achievement is palpable. David Broker
And now the moment you have been waiting for – the winners are: Kate Barker (ACT), Khadim Ali (NSW), Joseph Breikers (QLD), Amy Joy Watson (SA), Yinimala Gumana (NT), Anne Mestitz (TAS), Mark Hilton (VIC) and Abdul- Rahman Abdullah (WA). Unfortunately, Mark Hilton could not attend so there are no photos. Congratulations one and all !