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Finalists announced for John Fries Award 2017

Tina Havelock Stevens, Thunderheads (2016)

Copyright Agency | Viscopy today announced the 12 finalists for the John Fries Award 2017.

The award, curated by interdisciplinary artist, academic and curator, Consuelo Cavaniglia, is an annual $10,000 art award recognising the talents of early career visual artists from Australia and New Zealand. The award winner will be announced at the exhibition opening on 11 August 2017. Each finalist will present multiple works in the exhibition, open to the public at Sydney’s UNSW Galleries from 11 August – 2 September 2017.

Now in its eighth year, the annual award is a platform for some of the most engaging and experimental works from the next wave of contemporary artists in the region. The award was established by the Fries family in 2010 in memory of former Viscopy director and honorary treasurer, John Fries, who made a remarkable contribution to the life and success of the organisation.

Guest Curator for 2017-2018, Consuelo Cavaniglia, says: “This year’s finalists are drawn from a broad cross-section of early career artists with diverse and engaging practices; the interdisciplinary nature of these is very exciting. Although there is no single curatorial theme, many of the finalists’ work engages with questions of cultural identity and consideration on landscape. Conversations with artists about new commissions for the award are currently underway, with many artists electing to expand their modes of practice in experimental ways.”

The 2017 finalists include Barayuwa Mununggurr, currently exhibited at the Museum of Contemporary Art Australia; Claudia Nicholson, currently exhibited in The National 2017: New Australian Art at Carriageworks; Ben Leslie, currently exhibited in Versus Rodin at the Art Gallery of South Australia; and Angela Tiatia (second time John Fries Award finalist), currently exhibited in Australian Centre of Photography exhibition, Under The Sun at the State Library of NSW.

The complete list of finalists is:

  1. Amanda Williams (Sydney, New South Wales) – photography and installation
  2. Angela Tiatia (Sydney, New South Wales) – multidisciplinary
  3. Anwar Young (Amata, South Australia) – sculpture and new media
  4. Barayuwa Mununggurr (Wandawuy, Northern Territory) – sculpture and painting
  5. Ben Leslie (Adelaide, South Australia) – sculpture
  6. Bridget Reweti (Wellington, New Zealand) – video and performance
  7. Claudia Nicholson (Sydney, New South Wales) – multidisciplinary
  8. Fayen d’Evie (Muckleford, Victoria) – installation, performance, writing and publishing
  9. Ella Sutherland (Christchurch, New Zealand) – text based art and graphic design
  10. Kuba Dorabialski (Sydney, New South Wales) – video and performance
  11. Tina Havelock Stevens (Sydney, New South Wales) – multidisciplinary
  12. Kathy Ramsey (Warmun, Western Australia) – painting


The 2017 John Fries Award winner will be determined by a panel of guest judges: Consuelo Cavaniglia, Guest Curator of JFA 2017-2018; Melanie Oliver, Senior Curator and Programs Manager at The Dowse Art Museum, Wellington; Clothilde Bullen, Curator of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Art at the Museum of Contemporary Art;  Fiona Lowry, multi-award winning artist (Archibald Prize, Moran Prize, Fleurieu Landscape Prize); and Kath Fries, artist, Viscopy board member, Chair of the John Fries Award committee and daughter of the late John Fries.

Kath Fries says, “The quality of the award is going from strength to strength each year, and I’m always excited to see how the finalists use the award as a springboard to ambitiously develop their practices. This year’s finalists’ exhibition will offer a glimpse of what’s occurring at the dynamic ‘emerging’ edge of the contemporary art scene, heightening our expectations of the future.”

MEDIA CONTACT: To request artist and curator interviews or press imagery of art works in the exhibition, please contact Georgia McKay, Articulate,, 0466 223 293 or Kym Elphinstone, Articulate,, 0421 106 139

The award winner will be announced at UNSW Galleries on 10 August 2017.

EXHIBITION DETAILS: The 2017 John Fries Award is exhibited from 11 August – 2 September 2017 at the UNSW Galleries, located within the UNSW Art & Design campus in Paddington. The exhibition is free-of-charge and open to the public.

About the John Fries Award

Entry to this annual award is open to artists of all ages and disciplines who identify as early career artists, and are citizens or residents of Australia or New Zealand. Artists are required to submit a portfolio of five works created over the past three years which demonstrate a current commitment to developing a professional artistic practice.

The award winner receives $10,000 and the award is non-acquisitive. Previous winners include Eric Demetriou, Ben Ward, Bridie Lunney, Jess Olivieri and Hayley Forward and Jacob Leary, Sanne Mestrom and Hannah Bertram. Previous curators have included Oliver Watts, Sebastian Goldspink, Venita Poblocki and Andrew Leslie.

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 licensing and collecting fees on their members’ behalf. Copyright Agency | Viscopy aims to build a more resilient creative economy where new artistic expression is valued and artists are acknowledged and financially rewarded for their work. Membership is free.