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Art Award’s Fourteen Finalists Announced

Jake Preval, Beefcake Comedown (Gold), 2014, © Jake Preval/Licensed by Viscopy. Photo: Lauren Dunn.

Fourteen finalists have been named from nearly one thousand entries for this year’s leading art award for emerging contemporary artists, the John Fries Award 2016.

The finalists are dominated by five Victorian artists with a spread from New South Wales, Queensland, the Northern Territory, as well as a New Zealander and a Sydneysider on a fellowship in New York.

The finalists are:


Uri Auerbach
Tim Gregory
James Nguyen (via New York)
Angela Tiatia


Barbara Moore
Lilly Morton


Sam Clague

Daniel McKewen
Sarah Poulgrain


Jessie Bullivant
Eric Demetriou
Xanthe Dobbie
Jake Preval
Debbie Symons

Guest curator, Oliver Watts, said the flavour of the finalists’ practices is a direct response to the contemporary world.

“There is little nostalgia or appeal to tradition. On the contrary, the artists take on the energy flows and structures of the ‘global village’ head on,” he said.

“The outcome is a mashup of images, people and capital. The finalists’ exhibition will be one for the Tumblr age; or at the very least, the artists show that art is just one ‘content provider’ in a fast-flowing world of content.

“The finalists’ works are brave and confronting, playful and surprising. The artists have made an asymmetrical attack against some of societies looming institutions. It will be a quickly-paced show and it will try to account for the way we live our lives, for good or ill.”

The finalists will work with Oliver over several months on their final award work for the exhibition.

For the first time this year, all finalists will be paid an increased $1,000 artist fee, higher than the NAVA recommended rate. This is Copyright Agency | Viscopy’s way of expressing value to the arts, and rewarding the finalists regardless whether they win the $10,000 Award. The revenue raised from this year’s entry fees will directly support the finalists’ artist fees and enable additional financial support to assist with freighting expenses.

The panel of judges this year is made up of a diverse representation of professionals in contemporary arts including curator Mark Feary, artists Bianca Hester, Tony Albert and Kath Fries, together with guest curator Oliver Watts.

All finalists’ entries will feature in a six-week long exhibition at UNSW Galleries at UNSW Art & Design – the award’s presenting partner for the third year running – where the winner will be announced on 18 August.

The award’s $10,000 award money has been donated by the Fries family in memory of former Viscopy director and honorary treasurer, John Fries, who made a remarkable contribution to the life and success of Viscopy.  The opening night will be proudly sponsored by Boree Lane Wines and Wayward Brewing Co.


Opening Night: Thursday, 18 August, 2016
Exhibition: Friday, August 19 – Saturday, 1 October, 2016
Where: UNSW Galleries at UNSW Art & Design, Cnr Oxford Street  and Greens Rd, Paddington

About Copyright Agency | Viscopy

Copyright Agency | Viscopy advocates for artists’ copyright and provides services that ensure artists are fairly rewarded for the reproduction of their work by issuing licences and collecting fees on their behalf. In doing so, we aim to help build a more resilient creative economy where new artistic expression is valued and artists are fairly acknowledged and financially rewarded for their work.


For interview opportunities and photography, please contact:
Jenelle Dellar
Copyright Agency | Viscopy

Marketing and Communications Executive
T: 02 9394 7688