National Sculpture Prize and exhibition 2005
It is five years since the idea was first floated within Macquarie Bank to establish a national prize for outstanding Australian sculpture. The prevailing view at the time was that sculpture lacked the support and recognition it deserved. It was, in effect, the bridesmaid of the Australian arts.
Macquarie took the concept to the National Gallery of Australia which, to its enormous credit, acted quickly to turn it into reality. Within a year, the National Sculpture Prize and exhibition was born.
Few could have foreseen the remarkable impact this prize would have, not only on Australian sculpture but on the art scene generally. Much of that success can be attributed to Australia’s sculptors, who entered the competition in unexpectedly large numbers. More than 480 entries were received for the inaugural Prize in 2001, while a record 636 artists entered works this year.
Sculptors have also embraced the unrestrictive entry conditions attached to the Prize, exploring the limits of their imagination and a diverse range of materials to produce truly innovative sculpture. Artists have used everything from bush turkey feathers to the air we breathe to bring their works to life.
Their contributions have been enjoyed by an appreciative public, making the National Sculpture Prize exhibition one of the National Gallery of Australia’s most popular. Selected pieces are also displayed in public areas of several Macquarie Bank offices, where they attract many visitors. Clearly, the viewing public is keen to embrace sculpture as a uniquely expressive art form.
There is no doubt that the National Sculpture Prize and exhibition has given new prominence to Australian sculpture. In addition, it has initiated many other lucrative prizes, further expanding its scope and dimension, and ensuring sculpture receives the recognition it deserves.
Most importantly, the Prize has given valuable exposure to Australia’s most talented sculptors, both emerging and established, and provided a strong platform on which to build their careers. Ah Xian, the Prize’s winner in 2001, has exhibited his work in New York, while 2003 winner Lisa Roet is due to have the first monograph on her work published this year. Timothy Horn, a finalist in 2001 now has a commercial gallery representing his work in San Francisco, while Alwin Reamillo and Roselin Eaton’s 2003 entry, Jandamarra crossing project, is now on permanent display at the Western Australian Museum in Perth. For many entrants being named as a finalist has marked the first major recognition of their work.
I would like to congratulate all of the finalists whose work has been selected for exhibition in 2005 and wish them all the best.
I also thank the National Gallery of Australia and its Director, Ron Radford, for the strong support and commitment that he and his staff have given the National Sculpture Prize and exhibition.
I hope you enjoy the exhibition.
Executive Chairman, Macquarie Bank
Launched in 2000, the National Sculpture Prize set out to raise the profile of sculpture in Australia. Looking back it is gratifying to see that it has indeed achieved its aim and sculpture, in all its contemporary manifestations, is currently enjoying unprecedented visibility and recognition.
The three Prizes – held in 2001, 2003 and 2005 – have included an extra-ordinary range of works by a total of eighty-three artists from around Australia. The Prize has introduced emerging artists to a national audience and has exhibited their works alongside those of Australia’s leading sculptors. It has provided a vital forum in which artists have presented major new works – in some instances ambitious undertakings that would not have been realised without the stimulation of the Prize. With each exhibition there has been an associated program of public talks by artists and curators, extending the understanding and enjoyment of this art form amongst the wider community. The Gallery has forged lasting relationships with artists around the country and works from each Prize have been acquired for the national collection.
The National Gallery of Australia is proud to present the third National Sculpture Prize and exhibition. This event signals the Gallery’s commitment to exhibiting contemporary Australian art and this year’s exhibition will be the largest to date, featuring works by thirty-nine artists, and extending throughout the Gallery’s temporary exhibitions wing.
Over the past five years the National Gallery of Australia and Macquarie Bank have worked closely together in the presentation of the Prize. I thank Macquarie Bank for their generous and enthusiastic involvement with the National Galley of Australia, and for their initiative in extending the reach of the Prize by touring selected works nationally. The partnership between the National Gallery of Australia and Macquarie Bank has already achieved much, and I look forward to the continuation of this relationship into the future.
I would also like to thank International Art Services for their ongoing support of the National Sculpture Prize by again offering participating artists a generous discount on the cost of transporting their works.
I thank my fellow judges for the commitment and expertise that they have brought to their task, selecting a stimulating and diverse exhibition from the 636 entries received this year.
The exhibition of contemporary sculpture is a complex undertaking and I acknowledge the professionalism and dedication of staff from across the Gallery who have contributed to this project, including coordinating curator Elena Taylor, project officer Kate Buckingham and exhibition manager Beatrice Gralton.
Most particularly I would like to congratulate all of the artists selected for the 2005 Prize, and to thank all of those who entered for their continued support of this event.
Ron Radford AM
Director, National Gallery of Australia
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