Redland Art Awards 2018

By Tess Maunder, October 2018

Today more than ever as a society we often possess an inherent individualised bias,
a deliberate and divisive method of forming of opinions; centring around a binary approach to decision-making. This is conditioned through an array of channels that mostly centre around the division of people based on a polarised binary structure.
These channels include news outlets, political structures and social media. Each of
these information forces divide and manipulate the information that we receive based
on data based signifiers. While this is an effective tool for those channels, it does not necessarily speak to the nuances and multiplicities present in everyday human life.
We are more complex than our data presents us to be.

Art awards as integral parts of the wider art ecology present an opportunity to capture, survey and portray the community zeitgeist in all its multiplicities. These are engaging apparatuses for audiences because the curatorial process is more genuine. Meaning that what is on show is actually representative of a diverse array of positions nationally.
To elaborate, the choice of what is on display is not linked to a specific theme and what this allows for is a truly representation playing field for artists without a narrative-based, story-telling, curatorial agenda. If you read the ‘Betoota Advocate’ as a satirical media outlet for instance, you will understand that the reason they are successful is that they communicate a wide variety of viewpoints to an even wider audience – something that is becoming less and less common today. The Redland Art Awards 2018 is no exception to this format and this exhibition produces its own meaningful and layered moments of encounter for viewers.

The Redland Art Awards, now in their 31st year, is presented at the Redland Art Gallery, Cleveland. The judging panel was diverse and well-established consisting of Charles Robb, Visual Art Lecturer at Queensland University of Technology; Dr Bianca Beetson, Artist and Senior Lecturer/Program Convenor, Contemporary Australian Indigenous Art at Queensland College of Art, Griffith University and Redland Art Gallery Director;
Emma Bain; all incredible people in the art ecology with their own diverse scopes
and interests. 47 artists were shortlisted this year by the judges with four winning categories: 1st, 2nd and 3rd and also the Meredith Foxton People’s Choice Award which went to New South Wales based artist Tania Mason for This is how he grew (2018).

First prize was awarded to Queensland based artist and Gamilaraay woman,
Debbie Taylor Worley for her stunning and timely work Beyond Gavrinis (2018).
Taylor says in her artist statement:“I investigate what it is to be powerfully feminine in today’s patriarchal society. This has led me to create artwork based on primordial symbols used in ancient practices that honour the sacred feminine. As a Gamilaraay woman, I am drawn to dendroglyphs and petroglyphs of these societies.”

Indeed, in context of the Kavanaugh vs. Ford case which has been recently circulating
in the news, it is so critical to see a strong female voice putting forward these
important political positions, and even more rewarding to see Taylor Worley take out
the winning title. Likewise, Queensland is home to a rich and layered First Nations art histories and ongoing living culture, and it is important to see the work of a recent honours graduate take out the winning title. Even more so, the artist’s specific position
is as a Gamilaraay woman and the stories she is telling from her specific position engage with ongoing female histories, and the potential intersection and overlapping between other Indigenous female histories.

Second prize was awarded to Tasmania based artist Chee Yong for his work
Self-portrait as a ghost (2018). This work was subtle and quieter in nature than other entries in this year’s prize, however this is inherently what gave the work its appeal.
The work is detailed and specific in its material application and can be described as
self-reflexive in nature.

Third prize was awarded to New South Wales based artist Martin Claydon for his work titled Greenscreen #16 breadfruit Bligh (2018). This work focused on a specific
historical figure in Australia: Vice-Admiral William Bligh FRS (1754–1817) who was an officer of the Royal Navy – later becoming the fourth Governor of New South Wales.
He was associated with a famous mutiny story and the artist in this image depicts the figure floating in the ocean with coconuts, which were apparently the anchoring aspect
to the mutiny itself.

One other highlight from the 2018 prize is Quandamooka woman Elisa Jane Carmichael’s work Bringing her home (2018). Her work is engaging with urgent conversations surrounding repatriation, looking specifically at her own Quandamooka ancestors and how they have been misrepresented in colonial collections overseas. An example of which is outlined in the artist’s statement when she says: “In 2015 I was reunited with Quandamooka baskets at Pitt Rivers Museum [Oxford, UK] and I was shocked to read the derogatory terms labelling the baskets.”

Bringing her home (2018) is a powerful work by a strong young Australian artist
bringing to the fore public conversations about self-determination and questioning the ethics of these ongoing colonial practices today. Furthermore, through her work Carmichael is erasing this harmful history that was unwantedly placed upon her ancestors and instead through an act of self-determination is reclaiming the beauty, resilience and strength of her ancestors.

Other shortlisted artist’s work included a wide command of fine arts practices.
Thematic choices explored were wide and included work that was about art itself and
art history; works examining the personal and self-reflective and works that respond
to current and historical events or figures.

In summary, as a community I argue that we are missing places where we can
come together. Places that allow us to acknowledge that we may have different
opinions about things which is okay, but we are still human and should be reminded
of how much we do have in common. I believe the visual arts and culture more
widely can be a framework to transcend these dividing structures we encounter in homogenous culture. I believe visual arts practice can assist us to move forward as a society with the capacity to engage with issues around us. What this ultimately
promotes is a more nuanced, flexible and open-minded society and likewise, in turn,
has a positive effect on both individual and collective experiences. In this line of thinking, Redland Art Awards is a meaningful connecting point for the artists and stakeholders involved but also as it has been argued above for the wider community.
This is how he grew by Tania Mason NSW
Tania Mason NSW
This is how he grew 2018
Gouache and watercolour on canvas
Courtesy of the artist

Click on image to view artwork in detail and in
image gallery.

Beyond Gavrinis by Debbie Taylor Worley QLD
Debbie Taylor Worley QLD
Beyond Gavrinis 2018
Mixed medium on canvas
Courtesy of the artist

Click on image to view artwork in detail and in
image gallery.

DSelf portrait as a ghost by Chee Yong TAS

Chee Yong TAS
Self portrait as a ghost 2018
Oil and enamel on wood
Courtesy of the artist

Click on image to view artwork in detail and in
image gallery.

Greenscreen #16 breadfruit Bligh by Martin Claydon NSW
Martin Claydon NSW
Greenscreen #16 breadfruit Bligh 2018
Enamel on aluminium
Courtesy of the artist

Click on image to view artwork in detail and in
image gallery.

Bringing her home by Elisa Jane Carmichael QLD
Elisa Jane Carmichael QLD
Bringing her home 2018
Synthetic polymer paint on canvas
Courtesy of the artist

Click on image to view artwork in detail and in
image gallery.