Jonny Niesche wins SCA's top art prize

10 July 2014

At the opening of the FAUVETTE 2014 exhibition last night, Sydney College of the Arts announced emerging, Sydney-based contemporary artist Jonny Niesche this year's winner of the annual Fauvette Loureiro Memorial Artists Travel Scholarship.

The $28,000 travelling scholarship, the biggest annual art prize awarded by the University of Sydney's school of contemporary art in Callan Park, Lilyfield, gives a recent SCA graduate the opportunity to develop their visual arts practice internationally.

"I didn't think I was in with a chance! I was just so chuffed to be shortlisted to the final five in the 2014 exhibition, and to be amongst such a great peer group. SCA and the generous gift of the late Renee Fauvette Erdos to the University have been instrumental in my education, development and nurturing as an artist," said Jonny Niesche.

Julie Ewington, senior curator of Australian art at GOMA for many years, was part of this year's judging panel with SCA staff and artists Matthys Gerber, Dr Karin Findeis, Margaret Seymour and Justin Trendall. Given the high standard of shortlisted artists, a highly commended was awarded for the first time to fellow finalist Biljana Jancic.

Julie Ewington remarked: "As you see from the art in this exhibition, the works are innovative, energetic and sophisticated. Arriving at the shortlist was strenuous, so it was a hard call deciding the winner. All the artists are well on their way to active, creative careers.

"However, Jonny's art is very sharp and visually literate - he is clearly pushing the boundaries of late modern art. He will really profit going overseas to expand his practice," said Julie Ewington.

Jonny Niesche, who only completed his Master of Fine Arts at Sydney College of the Arts last year, has a thriving painting and installation practice influenced by minimalist art. A list of recent exhibitions include group shows at Minerva, Linden Centre for Contemporary Art, Artspace, Yuill/Crowley and Roslyn Oxley9.

He will use the SCA prize to travel to Vienna in 2015 to undertake a six-month research, study and mentoring program, working with two world-leading authorities on minimalism: Professor Heimo Zöbernig and Professor Andreas Reiter Raabe.

Niesche intends to carry out a semester in Professor Zöbernig's classes at the Academy of Fine Arts in Vienna and visit the 2015 Venice Biennale. He also hopes to conclude his scholarship with an exhibition of new works in Vienna in 2015, followed by a large-scale installation in Australia in 2016-17.

A 2014 painting series and sculpture by Jonny Niesche feature in the Fauvette exhibition, alongside contemporary works by the four other 2014 finalists: Matthew Hopkins, Emily Hunt, Biljana Jancic and Tony Schwensen.

Dean of SCA, Professor Colin Rhodes, said: "The annual Fauvette prize and exhibition provides a wonderful showcase of some of the best artists in contemporary Australian art emerging every year from the school. Jonny Niesche joins a select band of past winners, including leading contemporary artists Vicky Browne (2013), Mark Shorter (2012), Justene Williams (2010), Kenzee Patterson (2009), Will French (2008) and Jess MacNeil (2006)."

FAUVETTE 2014 is on show at Sydney College of the Arts in Callan Park until 23 July 2014.

Event Details

What: FAUVETTE 2014

When: 10-23 July (opening and winner announcement: 9 July, 6-8pm)

Where: Sydney College of the Arts, The University of Sydney, Kirkbride Way, Lilyfield (enter via Balmain Road, opposite Cecily Street)

Opening Hours: Mon-Fri 11am-5pm, Sat 11am-4pm

About The Fauvette Loureiro Memorial Artists Travel Scholarship

Set up in 2003, the Fauvette Loureiro Memorial Artists Travel Scholarship celebrates a bequest of the late Renee Fauvette Erdos, educator and founder of the History Teachers' Association of NSW, in memory of her mother, Fauvette Loureiro. Fauvette Loureiro was the eldest daughter of Portuguese painter Arthur Loureiro (1853-1932), who came to Australia in 1885 and established an association with the Heidelberg School in Melbourne. He was actively involved in the plein air movement in Europe and Australia.

Follow University of Sydney Media on Twitter

Media enquiries: Mandy Campbell, 0481 012 742 or