Shevaun Wright wins 2015 NSW Parliament Aboriginal Art Prize

Shevaun Wright with her award winning work 'Suggested Corporate Names – Catholic Child Abuse Compensation Entity', 2015. Photo: Parliament NSW.

Shevaun Wright with her award winning work ‘Suggested Corporate Names – Catholic Child Abuse Compensation Entity’, 2015. Photo: Parliament NSW.

Young Aboriginal artist, Shevaun Wright, has been named the winner of the 2015 Parliament of New South Wales Aboriginal Art Prize, taking out the coveted $40,000 prize.

Shevaun was announced as the winner at an awards ceremony held at Parliament House on Wednesday 14 October 2015.

Her work Site Specific Work [Suggested Corporate Names – Catholic Child Abuse Compensation Entity] was chosen by judges Stephen Gilchrist, Julie Gough and Liza-Mare Syron. A practising lawyer and artist, Shevaun “aims to compare feminist and postcolonial critiques of the law and art as a means to access and reveal similarities in their discursive practices.” Site Specific Work uses language to explore discourse around the confronting issue of child sexual abuse.

Shevaun is a previous finalist in the Parliament of New South Wales Aboriginal Art Prize and in 2012 won a postgraduate scholarship with the UNSW Faculty of Art & Design. Since completing the post-graduate scholarship, she has completed a residency as a fellow of the Art & Law Program in New York and has been selected to participate in the Whitney Museum of American Art Independent Study Program later this year. This is her first major art prize.

The Parliament of New South Wales Aboriginal Prize is the most valuable art incentive on offer for Aboriginal artists born in or living in New South Wales. The Hon. Shelley Hancock MP, Speaker of the Legislative Assembly, opened last night’s proceedings, and noted the Parliament’s commitment to the Aboriginal community in NSW. “The Parliament of New South Wales is proud to have supported the growth and development of the Prize and the opportunities it has provided to finalists and winners,” she said. “It has been wonderful to witness the level of recognition for and appreciation of contemporary Aboriginal art by the Parliament and the community.”

The Hon. Don Harwin MLC, President of the Legislative Council, noted the input of the judges. “The winner of the Prize is always chosen by an independent panel of judges. Each year, the judges select a diverse exhibition of finalist works and the 2015 Parliament of NSW Aboriginal Art prize is no exception. We invite audiences from across NSW to visit the Parliament and see this exhibition for themselves.”

Also speaking at the ceremony was the Hon. Troy Grant MP, Deputy Premier and Minister for the Arts. “On behalf of the NSW Government, I congratulate Shevaun Wright on being awarded this prestigious prize which continues to grow in stature as a celebration of contemporary Aboriginal art,” Mr Grant said.

“Our Government is proud to support Aboriginal arts and culture which are important parts of the social fabric of NSW’s Aboriginal people and communities.

“Aboriginal artists and arts groups contribute to the cultural richness of our State. They produce high-quality works that combine traditional stories and culture with contemporary art forms and media.”

Cr Paul Hawker, Mayor of Campbelltown City Council, Professor Ross Harley, Dean, UNSW Faculty of Art & Design also spoke at the event, which was opened by Norma Ingram, who performed a stirring Welcome to Country. The Hon. Leslie Williams MP, Minister for Aboriginal Affairs, has also extended her congratulations to the artists. “Works in the exhibition explore a number of themes, both traditional and contemporary. The quality of this year’s exhibition is impressive and I congratulate the winner, Shevaun Wright, and all finalists,” Mrs Williams said.

In addition to the main Art Prize, the awards ceremony also encompassed the 2015 UNSW Art & Design Indigenous Professional Development Award, which includes an Artist Residency at UNSW; the opportunity to work with UNSW staff in a medium of choice; a solo exhibition at EPS Gallery, UNSW and up to $500 worth of art materials, travel expenses and per diems. The winner this year is Aleshia Lonsdale for her work Significant to whom for what? The mixed media work uses stone tools, emu feathers, polymer bank notes and a set of scales to “reflect the imbalance in the system which assesses and approves major coal mining developments.”

 The Parliament of New South Wales Aboriginal Art Prize is currently on display at the NSW Parliament on Sydney’s Macquarie Street, and will be until 2nd November 2015. Entry to the exhibit is FREE, with doors open 9am to 5pm Monday to Friday. Following the exhibit, the works will commence a tour of selected regional galleries in New South Wales.

The Parliament of New South Wales Aboriginal Art Prize is produced and presented through a partnership between the Parliament of New South Wales, Campbelltown City Council, the NSW Government (through Arts NSW) and the UNSW Faculty of Art & Design, University of NSW.


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Published: 13 October 2015