Finalists are now busy creating new works for the 6th annual John Fries Award exhibition, A Jester’s Whisper, which will open in early September.
This year the awards were structured to give more time for artists to develop their artworks specifically for the John Fries Award and Exhibition, which carries a $10,000 prize for the winner.
Watts says it is this aspect of the award that makes it unique compared to other contemporary art prizes.
“Since its inception in 2010, the Curator of the John Fries Award has guided how the Finalist Exhibition comes together, but over recent years, the role has become even stronger. This year, it is a collaborative process where I work closely with the artists to help them develop and shape the work they submit,” Watts said.
“What I love about this year’s awards is that many of the artists’ works seek out the fragile points in our society’s beliefs and play with these to show how absurd or questionable some established practices are.
“Across the board, the work is characterised by its wit, satire and a nod to the absurd. Even paintings and sculptures tend to inflect fantasies of reality rather than represent it head-on. The works are not heroic but, like a king’s fool, they’re more like a whisper in the ear. So with this in mind, A Jester’s Whisper is a fitting title for the show,” he said.
Oliver Watts is joined on the judging panel by exciting cross-disciplinary artist, Nell, Head Curator of International Art at the Art Gallery of NSW, Justin Paton and installation artist and John Fries Award Chair, Kath Fries.
The judges will convene in September to choose the winner of the $10,000 prize, which will be announced at 5.30pm on Friday 4 September at UNSW Galleries at UNSW Art & Design – the award’s presenting partner for the second year running – prior to the launch of the their new exhibition season commencing at 6pm.
The award’s $10,000 prize money is 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.