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John Fries Memorial Prize 2011 winner announced

Viscopy is pleased to announce Sanné Mestrom the winner of the John Fries Memorial Prize 2011 for emerging visual artists. Mestrom received the $10,000 prize at the opening of the exhibition of the fifteen finalists last night at Blackfriars off Broadway, Viscopy’s contemporary art space in Chippendale. The prize was awarded by acclaimed Sydney artist, Lindy Lee.

Mestrom's winning artwork, Thinking Props features in the exhibition with the other fourteen finalists: Cyrus Tang, Erica Molesworth, Eva Hampel, Heath Franco, Jennifer O'Brien, Karl Khoe & Tessa Zettel, Keiko Matsui, Kristel Britcher, Kurt Sorensen, Nathan Taylor, Pauletta Kerinauia, Susie Nelson, Wade Marynowsky and Walter Brecely.

The winning entry was selected by an auspicious panel of judges including Anna Davis, media artist and Museum of Contemporary Art curator, Hannah Bertram the 2010 John Fries Memorial Prize winner, Danie Mellor contemporary Indigenous artist and 2009 National Aboriginal & Torres Strait Islander Art Award winner and Kath Fries, artist and Viscopy Board member.

Mestrom's sculptural installation Thinking Props plays with the idea of a physical prop designed to promote cerebral and psychological contemplation. Made from everyday found objects, the work consists of three components: a table, a cluster of door handles and a “joy prop”. Her table is tailored to one assuming the classic position of Auguste Rodin's The Thinker, with elbow placed on table enclave and chin on cupped hand. It is a physical prop that encourages cerebral revelation. A grid of door handles below the table suggests opening doors, that endless possibilities and zones of discovery are just a simple action away. In front of the table sits a “joy prop” constructed of a cast bronze mould hypothetically designed to be fitted into the mouth to force a smile.

Danie Mellor says of the Mestrom’s artwork: “In her winning entry for the 2011 John Fries Memorial Prize, Mestrom engages with the everyday and what she terms ‘psychological props’. Through her interest in human intimacy and this field of research and play in her practice, she presents playful and thought provoking arrangements of objects that recall Modernist engagements with the readymade. The difference with her work by comparison though, is that an intimacy is invoked that allows a bodily interaction with form, if only through the viewers’ realisation that in fact ‘this is what you (can and are supposed to) do’ with the objects. They are both familiar and out of reach as fragile objects in a gallery space, a temptation for the curious. The complexity of the potential interaction that the installation suggests, and its resolution as an intricate and multi-layered object, lends this work its intrigue and place as a well deserving winner.”

The exhibition, curated by Venita Poblocki, runs until 30 September and is open between 1pm and 5pm from Wednesday to Friday.

The John Fries Memorial Prize for emerging visual artists is an annual prize 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 competition is open to emerging Australian and New Zealand artists of all ages and disciplines who are not represented in a regional, state, territory or national public art collection.

For more information contact Viscopy on (02) 9310 2018 or visit