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University of Sydney students win top sculpture awards


10 September 2013

Sydney College of the Arts PhD student won the $20,000 major prize for her work 'Shoreless 11'.
Sydney College of the Arts PhD student won the $20,000 major prize for her work 'Shoreless 11'.

University of Sydney postgraduate students have taken out the two top awards from more than 240 entries at the 2013 Willoughby Sculpture Prize.

PhD candidate Sylvia Griffin won the $20,000 major prize for her work Shoreless 11 while Master of Fine Arts student Julian Day was the recipient of the $3000 emerging artist award for Requiem. Both study at Sydney College of the Arts.

Sylvia Griffin returned to university five years ago after being in the original visual arts intake at the SCA in the late '70s. After practising art and exhibiting she now finds "the return to a collegiate environment and emphasis on research inspiring."

"I am doing something I really love and that I find challenging. I also feel that the work I do now with its focus on notions of memory, trauma and collective grief is something that I couldn't have dealt with earlier," she said.

Her award-winning work, made from wax and found objects, was described by the judges as "impressive in many ways. It is visually alluring, highly technically skilled, conceptually evocative and distinguished by quiet understatement."

Julian Day was "very surprised and thrilled" to be recognised as the best emerging artist. Much of his work is designed for specific sites and incorporates sound to explore their acoustic, material and social properties.

"For Requiem I propped small identical synthesisers into features such as windows and hidden crevices. The constant chords subtly charge the surrounding area and emphasise the reach of the public space you move through," he said.

The judges noted "Requiem sits seamlessly within the Concourse foyer. The installation is an accomplished combination of sound and object responding to its physical and acoustic environment."

The biennial Willoughby Sculpture Prize was established in 2009.

Its theme for 2013, Connexion Points: sites of exchange/types of exchange, aimed to encourage artists to explore our relationships with each other and our surrounds, and in doing so generate awareness and discussion on the influences that shape communities.

Judges were artist Robyn Backen, Museum of Contemporary Art curator Anne Loxley and gallery director Dominik Mersch.

Master's student Julian Day was "surprised and thrilled" to be recognised as best emerging artist in the Willoughby Sculpture Prize.
Master's student Julian Day was "surprised and thrilled" to be recognised as best emerging artist in the Willoughby Sculpture Prize.

Among the 50 finalists were other current SCA students Anthony Alston, Vilma Bader, Stevie Fieldsend, Andrew Lavery, Kasane Low, Jonny Niesche, Rhonda Pryor and Kate Scardifield, and SCA graduates Kath Fries, Libby Tulip, and Ken + Julia Yonetani.

All finalists' works are on show at Art Space at The Concourse, 409 Victoria Avenue, Chatswood and the Incinerator Art Space, 2 Small St, Willoughby daily between 10am and 5pm. Admission is free.

A $1000 People's Choice Award will be announced just after the exhibition closes on September 22.


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Media contact: Jenny Eather, 0478 303 173, jenny.eather@sydney.edu.au