Wild, eccentric ceramic entry takes top gong
A wild and eccentric collection of beasts and plant forms has won Sydney-based artist Jenny Orchard the $50 000 2017 Sidney Myer Fund Australian Ceramic Art Award.
Sidney Myer fund chairman Carrillo Gantner revealed the winner to about 70 art enthusiasts from across Australia at Shepparton Art Museum on Saturday.
Award judges were Melbourne’s Ian Potter Museum of Art curatorial manager Jacqueline Doughty, Geelong Art Gallery director Jason Smith, and SAM director Rebecca Coates.
In a collective statement, the judges described Ms Orchard’s SAM installation as a ‘‘ tour de force that reveals an artist . . . whose work has an unquestionable contemporary relevance’’.
Ms Orchard’s installation titled The Imagined Possibility of Unity consists of brightly coloured ceramic ‘zookinis’ or ‘interbeings’ which form surreal hybrids of plants and animals.
The works deal with her concerns around genetic modification and industrial farming.
Ms Orchard was humbled and honoured to receive Australia’s premier acquisitive ceramic art award.
‘‘I believe optimism is the only way of being in the world,’’ she said.
‘‘Quantum mechanics and bio-technology are an everyday reality never discussed and yet our future on the planet depends on our engagement with them, so my work is an attempt to provoke questioning.
‘‘I choose not to use shock, but to try to express wonder, and a gentle probing or provocation to look at the diversity and connections in the lively world around us.’’
The 2017 Sidney Myer Fund Australian Ceramic Art Award exhibition includes Ms Orchard’s installation as well the work of four other finalists — Glenn Barkley, Karen Black, Laith McGregor and Yasmin Smith.
● The exhibition continues at SAM on Welsford St until August 13.
Winner: Sydney-based ceramic artist Jenny Orchard has won the biennial 2017 Sidney Myer Fund Australian Ceramic Award.
Wonderful works: The Imagined Possibility of Unity (detail), 2017 by Jenny Orchard.
Creative: One of Jenny Orchard’s surreal creatures from her winning work.