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On Judging a Regional Art Award

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The Somerset Bendigo Bank Art Award – July 26, 2019

 

I spent most of the day at Esk in south-east Queensland judging a regional art award organised by the Somerset Art Society. The Awards attracted a diverse collection of 337 artworks ranging from re-purposed kitchenalia made into sculptures to delicate fine ceramics, to tapestries, photographs and the traditional oil on canvas. Decisions about what was the ‘best’ art in 4 main categories and 4 other special awards were required to be made with my judging partner Dr Beata Batorowicz, artist and Associate Professor from the University of Southern Queensland. The curator of the event and the judging process was LeAnne Vincent.

 

Beata + Doug Photo: Victoria Cooper

 

Let the judging begin

As a judge I have an interest and expectation that I will receive a story from each artwork. The communiqué could be about the artist’s insight or comment about some idea or issue and it must resonate in some way to transform or challenge my understanding of the world. After a judge’s briefing by LeAnne we individually reviewed the works that had been hung on moveable wall panels and plinths within the expanses of the Somerset Civic Centre. Works from each of the 3 2D categories of (1) painting and works on paper, (2) fabrics and (3) photography were grouped for easy viewing and comparison on the panels. The 3D works were arranged in the central gallery and front gallery areas.

At the end of our first review Beata and I met and discussed the work generally and looked at works that had left a strong impressions with us. We walked around the gallery again this time in conversation gaining an understanding not only about the works but also each other’s point of view, opinions and our perceived strengths or weaknesses of certain works. The selection of Beata and myself as judges brought together an opportunity to utilise the overlap of our individual arts practice and our understanding of artmaking processes and storyteling through art.

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Judges among the display panels PHOTO: Victoria Cooper

 

The regional artist and their role in community beyond the Awards

Over an afternoon coffee with my partner Victoria Cooper I reflected upon the role of the artist in regional communities. As the viewer of many artworks today I had received and been touched by so many stories and communiqués. I thought about the important role of artists in recording and documenting their lived experience. And how in a changing world these artworks come to be a history of place, a touchstone for the issues, moods and interests of that time.

 

Somerset Regional Art Gallery – The Condensery

Somerset Regional Art Gallery – The Condensery

 

Art tourism in regional Australia

In the afternoon Vicky and I visited the Somerset Regional Art Gallery at The Condensery in the small town Toogoolawah just north of Esk. Formerly a condensed milk factory it has been repurposed into an art gallery with two exhibition spaces.

I thought about how art tourism is a burgeoning catch cry in regional Australia. Fine examples include Toowoomba’s First Coat Street Art initiative that brings visitors to that community and the Silo art project in Central/western Victoria that has created a boon to local businesses. Tourists now don’t drive through the town; they now stop and stay to take in those large-scale silo mural projects.

Perhaps with this growing interest in art tourism and the wealth of artwork abundantly visible in this exhibition it may be time to consider the The Condensery as a major regional gallery space with the funding for and arts manager/curator to oversee the display and management of the arts facility.

The various sponsors of the art awards including the major sponsor the Bendigo Bank clearly support the artists and their community. The Hon. Shayne Neumann federal member for Blair, and Somerset Mayor Graham Lehman speaking at the awards event both identified and praised the importance of the arts to the community. So perhaps now is the time for the next step.

 

Dr Doug Spowart

 

The formal group at the Awards presentation night…… PHOTO: Victoria Cooper

 

THE AWARDS

We selected the 3D category first and reviewed personal favourites and their stories – sometimes guided by the title. We were also interested in the techniques employed and the way the artwork operated within the 3D space. A small bronze work entitled Swim Squad by Mela Cooke was selected as the First Prize. The sculpture represents a stilled moment of two figures by a pool. Swimming togs and bathing caps in a greenish patina clad the two young female figures their legs dawn up encircled by arms and clasped by hand.

(Photographs from the SASI website courtesty of LeAnne Vincent)

 

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Next we approached the textiles and I was interested in Beata’s insights into the range of materials and techniques presented. Works I this category included traditional tapestry, contemporary image-making through materials collaged together with extensive over-sewing. The First Prize winner and the inaugural Hetty Van Boven Textile Award was Elisabeth Czaia with her work Afternoon Shadow. The work was the representation of a room interior with the perspective flattened to resemble a two-dimensional space. The colour scheme was a riot of colour predominantly green with accents of purple and tangerine.

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The Photography category consisted of a variety approaches to the discipline from traditional pictorialism to contemporary digital montage. Gerry O’Connor won the First Prize with a portrait entitled Warren Palmer Artist. The monochrome photograph was large in size and was frank in its direct and powerful presentation of the subject.

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Painting/Works on paper was won by a mult-coloured woodblock print by Owen Hutchison entitled The Long Flight…and some stars fell into the sea. This large print suggested a mythical allegory that spoke of flight and a night journey.

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Youth Award was won by a large drawing by Aneldi van Wyck. Entitled My identity that was a self-portrait. The drawing was skillfully and carried out honouring the media of its creation.

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Sharon McKenzie with Woven Destiny 3 won the special prize category of Susan Cory Contemporary Award. Originally submitted in the fabric section this work exhibited a very contemporary use of various materials over layered with hand sewing. There is a feeling of the work being just put down as threads dangle as if there is more work to be done.

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The award of The Best In Show was won by Margaret Underdown with her painting Home Paddock. Though a representational landscape in style this large work captured the emotive spirit of place. For both Beata and I have driven down from Toowoomba that morning where the ranges were enshrouded in mist and the early morning light diffused – that may have contributed to our consensus on that decision.

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One prize was awarded by votes cast by attendees to the exhibition. The People’s Choice was won by Kathy Ellem with her painting of a male horseman entitled Edges.

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President of SASI Betty Williams thanks curator LeAnne Vincent PHOTO: Victoria Cooper

 

THE FULL AWARDS LIST: 2019 Somerset Bendigo Bank Art Award Winners

 

$5000 Best of Show – Margaret Underdown, Home Paddock

$1000 Photography Prize – Gerry O’Connor, Warren Palmer Artist

Highly Commended PhotographyLinda McPhee The Second Best Café in Town and Wayne Gillis Satin Bower Bird Male

$1000 3D Prize – Mela Cooke, Swim Squad

Highly Commended 3DRussell Solomon, Have They Always Been Here and Carol Forster, Love Not War

$1000 Painting/Works on paper Prize – Owen Hutchison, The Long Flight…and some stars fell into the sea

$750 Painting/Works on paper Prize – Charmaine Davis, Mountain

Highly Commended Painting/Works on paper – Clay Dawson, Ships in the Night and Odessa Mahony de Vries Sea view

$1000 Hetty Van Boven Textile Award – Elisabeth Czaia, Afternoon Shadow

Highly Commended Textile Wendy Houston, Dear Stag and Jodie Wade, Grass Trees

$500 Susan Cory Contemporary Prize – Sharon McKenzie, Woven Destiny 3

$500 Youth Prize – Aneldi Van Wyk, My Identity

$500 Somerset Artist Prize – Marcel Desbiens, Transition

People’s Choice – Kathy Ellem, Edges

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Somerset Bendigo Bank Art Awards sign

Photographs of the artworks are from the SASI website courtesty of LeAnne Vincent

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2019 PHOTOBOOK ROAD TRIP BEGINS – HOBART

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The 2019 Photobook Road Trip

PHOTOBOOKS @ TOPSPACE STUDIO/GALLERY IN HOBART

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Ilona Schneider and Doug Spowart

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The 2019 Photobook Road Trip began last night at the TopSpace StudioGallery in Hobart. The Australia & New Zealand Photobook Awards (ANZPA) exhibition was installed by Victoria Cooper and Doug Spowart. Visitors to the Gallery were welcomed by the gallery Director Ilona Schneider.

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Vicky setting up the dispaly

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On show were the 12 Finalists and Award winners of the 2018 Australia and New Zealand Photobook Awards sponsored by MomentoPro Photobooks. The books were:

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Winners 2018

Finalists 2018 from 117 entries:

SEE More about the ANZPA HERE
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The event as attended by around 30 participants including representatives from the Tasmanian Museum and Art Gallery, the Allport Library, members of the AIPP and representatives from the Hobart Camera Club.
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To cover costs associated with the gallery hire a raffle was conducted with books by Cooper+Spowart and ANZPA catalogues and MomentoPro’s ‘Publish Your “Bloody” Photobook‘ booklets.
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Looking at the Cooper+Spowart books

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COOPER+SPOWART presented a small selection of the concertina photobooks including  YOU ARE HERE and QUESTIONING+KNOWING.
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Around 6.00pm Doug made a presentation about the awards and the current state of the Antipodean photobook. A lengthy Q&A session followed and private conversations and continued book viewing took place well after the intended finish time.
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Doug presenting his talk

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THANK YOU!

Thanks to Ilona Schneider and the AIPP coordinator Matt Palmer for their assistance with the presentation and Momento Pro for making the books available.
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CANBERRA is the next stop in the PHOTOBOOK ROAD TRIP on July 20 at PhotoAccess where the books will be displayed, Doug will present a talk about photobooks and Doug+Vicky will present a workshop on photobook forms and the photobook narrative.
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D+V Coming to Canberra

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#MomentoProBooks #ANZPhotobookAwards #PhotobookRoadTrip #Photobookjousting
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PETER EASTWAY – The New [Photography] Tradition

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A box in the mail

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A box came in the mail the other day and in the box was a book from the photographer Peter Eastway. I have known Peter for over 35 years and have followed his many and varied careers – as a photographer, editor and publisher, darkroom and digital Guru, AIPP advocate, photography commentator, judge, lecturer and mentor.

 

Our paths crossed many times as our interests, activities and creative pursuits were very similar. Over the years Peter published more than a few stories about my work as well as articles I wrote for his magazine Better Photography. Around 1990 Peter was invited to come on my Imagery Gallery Photo Tours to central Australia and Africa to enthuse and inspire the photographers on the tour.

When monochrome photography and the darkroom re-emerged in the 1980s as an exciting ‘new’ trend in the professional photography awards scene Peter became interested in my work. At the time my B&W photographs had on two occasions won the AIPP Australian Professional Photography Awards ‘Highest Scoring Print in Australia, one of them was a 10”x8” contact print. I had also won categories in the Australian Hasselblad Masters Awards.

Peter came to my darkroom in Toowoomba, witnessed my technique, and published a Better Photography story about my technique. One of the main aspects of my work at the time was my use of Leica 35mm cameras and a printmaking style that employed what I called ‘dramatic theatrical effect’ by utilising very heavy burning-in and local dodging.

From the ICONS series ….PHOTO: Doug Spowart

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Within a short time I found my entries in the AIPP Awards coming up against Peter’s prints and some of his images were even made on photo tours that he had undertaken for Imagery. One year he won the AIPP Professional Photographer of the Year – I was the runner-up. Since then my partner Victoria Cooper has referred to Peter as #1 and me, #2!

AIPP Australian Professional Photography Awards with one of Peter’s Professional Photographer of the Year award winning photos of Africa on the cover

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Eastway photographing on tour in Bhutan PHOTO: Roger Skinner

 

When you get to know Peter you quickly understand his capacity for grasping ideas and knowledge, assimilating into his process and then to make images that are uniquely his own.

 

 

 

Back to the book… I turned the opening pages and read Peter’s introduction for ‘generational change’ in photography. He challenges those who have fixed ideas about emulating the great past masters like Adams and Weston and how digital photography has transformed the photographic image and the possibilities available to enhance the way the subject is presented. What follows in the book are very detailed reviews of the ‘making’ of Peter’s images over the years including his transition from analogue to digital. This book is a handbook on Peter’s process and also a manifesto where he claims the establishment of a ‘new tradition’ in photography.

 

Ephraums’ book cover

I turn a few more pages to the first photograph he discusses and dissects. To my surprise Peter acknowledges Eddie Ephraums‘ and my technique as having a significant influence on his B&W work. As I have already said Peter’s way is to grasp, master and go far beyond the initial inspiration. In this way he has come to lead a whole new representation of the lens-seen reality and created for the viewer images of the mystical and sublime. Whether it’s a landscape photograph, an ancient architectural form or a portrait Peter makes images that are seductive to behold, ponder and visually explore.

There is no doubt that he now inspires new a generation of photographers and created disciples and followers for whom this tome will be a ‘book of revelations’, a Bible for those whose wish to understand the eye, the process and the aesthetic of the photographer.

If there is a new tradition and Peter’s work will no doubt continue to influence photographers but his never-ending exploration of the visual world and how the idea of the human seen reality can be transformed through capture and rapture in processing will continue to advance the art of photography.

What interests me is that when I look back at the photographs I was making in the 1980s and 90s I didn’t think at the time about being a follower of a particular ‘tradition’. I just did, as I still do now, what seemed appropriate at the time. Perhaps Peter’s motivation is the same and the only ‘tradition’ that we follow is the constant renewal of the discipline by progressive practitioners…

Thank you Peter for a copy of your book … and for the opportunity to appreciate and consider your work.

 

Doug Spowart

May 20, 2019

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To read more and order Peter’s New Traditions Book –
CLICK THE LINK: Better Photography Online Shop New Traditions Book

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HERE’s SELECTION OF MY MONOCHROME WORK FROM THE LATE 1980s and EARLY 1990s …

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Images and text © Doug Spowart

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Creative Commons-by-nc-nd.eu

This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivs 3.0 Unported License.

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IMPRINT JOURNAL: Article on regional arts awards

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IMPRINT COVER Vol53 #2

 

In March this year we were approached by the Editor of IMPRINT MAGAZINE, the journal of the Print Council of Australia to write a piece about regional galleries and the national awards that they coordinate. Of particular interest to Editor Andrew Stephens was Artspace Mackay’s Libris Awards: National Artists’ Book Award, and Mornington Peninsula Regional Gallery’s National Works on Paper Awards.

We were familiar with both awards events and in particular we’ve had a long connection with the Libris Awards as entrants and reviewers. In 2017 we visited the Mornington Peninsula Regional Gallery as viewed and exhibition of works from their awards. Many of you will also be aware of our interest in, and support of regional art so we were excited by the opportunity that the commission provided.

We set about to prepare the commentary and to add extra voices to the piece we contacted some artists who have significant participation in regional arts awards. What follows is the article with the 4 page layout and photographs followed by the text, references and acknowledgements.

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Imprint: Page 22+23

Imprint: Page 24+25

 

BEYOND THE CITY LIMITS:

Two regional art awards for artists’ books and works on paper

 

The art gallery is a place for presentation, display and the sharing of art. It is a space that orchestrates the development of cultural discourse by connecting the world of the artist with an art-interested audience including members of the public, art students, the artist’s peers, curators, critics and collectors. Big city art galleries can mount blockbuster national and international shows and also cover a diverse range of disciplines that regional galleries cannot ever hope to match. The regional gallery can however specialise in key areas of activity and collection by including in their programs discipline based national awards. These galleries also aren’t so constrained by orthodoxy and can open up the dialogue leading to more widespread changes. Through the awards they can push boundaries and help to define what is contemporary in various disciplines.

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Two noteworthy regional galleries and their specialisations are Artspace Mackay (AM) has the Libris Awards: National Artists’ Book Award (Libris) and Mornington Peninsula Regional Gallery (MPRG) has National Works on Paper Awards (NWOP). To ensure the currency of the entries both awards are offered biennially with a requirement that the works entered must have been completed within the preceding two years. Each gallery has a particular focus for their award.

The Libris Awards provide Artspace Mackay with: ‘an opportunity to become known as a centre for artists’ books; we develop/build meaningful relationships over many years with artists; the award attracts the latest and best works from artists in the field and introduces us to new artists; and provides us with a wonderful opportunity to acquire new artists’ books for our Art Collection by leading artists in the field’.[1]

At the Mornington Peninsula Regional Gallery the NWOP’s role ‘is to support and promote contemporary Australian artists working on or with paper. Works may be executed in any medium on or with paper… The paper must act as the main two or three-dimensional support of the work’.[2]

These Awards provide a testing ground for the new ideas, current aspects of technique and new/contemporary themes as well as many other art practice related opportunities. Sasha Grishin, in his ‘Judges Notes’ the 2016 Libris Awards commented that: ‘The contemporary artists book is characterised by boundless freedom’, and adds that: ‘… it has absorbed many conceptual frameworks, many art mediums and technologies and goes across the spectrum of the senses’.[3] Entries in the NWOP Awards also exhibit Grishin’s ‘boundless freedom’ as MPRG Director Jane Alexander states in the 2016 catalogue: ‘Through printing, drawing, folding, sculpting and collage, paper is at the forefront of artistic experimentation… increasingly we are seeing this practice pushed to new and exciting dimensions’.[4]

Much of an artist’s life can be isolated making it difficult to connect with a broader community of practice, which can also be fractured by physical distance and conceptual difference. Therefore artists see these awards as an opportunity to present their most recent work. They seek the recognition that comes from selection and being shown in the awards’ survey exhibitions. This acknowledgement also locates them in a review of contemporary practice specific to their discipline. Nationally respected printmaker and artist bookmaker Dianne Fogwell generously shared with us the three main reasons she entered awards: ‘1. To stay abreast of who is professionally working in my field and 2; so that my contemporaries know I am still working professionally in my field and 3; I can enter work that does not suit the gallery exhibition either through content or scale’.[5]

There is also the potential benefit of exposure, critical review and for some the financial reward of purchase or winning a major award. It should be noted that both the Libris and NWOP receive significant sponsorship and support from range of sources to make possible their awards[6]. Deanna Hitti won the 2008 Libris Award and the 2009 Books Beyond Words Award held by the East Gippsland Art Gallery. She comments that, ‘I am quite fortunate to have been the recipient of two major Australian artist book awards in consecutive years… My whole arts practice gained exposure and in a way it validated my work and presented a path to promote my work through’.[7]

The choice of appropriate judges for these awards is critical as through their decisions a continual review of the nation-wide practice of the award’s associated disciplines is carried out. The selected judges for the Libris and NWOP come from major collecting and exhibiting institutional backgrounds and are widely respected within their specific disciplines.[8] Other awards may have judges who are also acclaimed artists, art critics and teaching academics.

Before entering any awards the artist needs to consider their work in relation to the competition criteria and the judging process. In this evaluation some gritty questions tend to surface regarding how their work is to be considered by the selection committee and the awards audience. For example: How much is my art worth? Will the winner’s work need to appear comparable to the amount of prize money associated with the award? Will awards that favour the spectacular and immediately accessible works marginalise those that require time and focus? As the practice of book arts is very broad and varied, from book sculpture to fine press to zines—in rewarding a particular art form/s this could promote one form over many other worthy and incomparable works. If so this could narrow the potential for a variety of work to be accepted within the broader practice?

To address questions of diversity, the two awards discussed in this article attempt to provide opportunities to recognise different mediums and the stages of the artist’s career. Libris has in the past offered a separate award for Zines, and have always included a local artists award. This year they are featuring the altered book. Both the Libris and NWOP also include emerging artists’ awards along with a budget to acquire a variety of other works selected for the exhibition.

Another salient question for the artist to consider relates to the handling of the work and its display, particularly for unusual work, such as sculptural and installation works that are unframed. Many galleries may not have the capacity to appropriately display these works and still allow for quality public engagement. The Libris awards require that entrants include a document on how they would like work would be shown. This way the artist has to consider whether the work should be handled and how it will be placed in the gallery space.

Although an important part of an artists career awards should not define them and their creative work potential. Dianne Fogwell presents a grounded perspective on how the award should influence the artmaking process: ‘Being selected as a finalist or to be the people’s choice or winning the award or prize gives you heart as making art is a lonely thing and more so the longer you do it. Does it make a difference to the way I make my work, no, has it made a difference to who buys my work, I hope not, as it is the work that’s important in the end’.[9]

To build an archive and history of these important survey events both Libris and NWOP create records of their awards in the form of catalogues and online in accessible PDF versions.[10] Libris posted 2016 judge Sasha Grishin’s award notes[11] and an illustrated list of works.[12] NWOP has over the last two events, 2014 & 2016 published a physical catalogue and online versions as well.[13] Additionally AM and MPRG can be contacted for further information on historical records.

These archives add to the history of the award as well as a snapshot of the adjudicated contemporary practice in the disciplines at the time of the award and the value that collectors and the art market place on artworks. What may be interesting as an enhancement to any art award could be consideration for the creation of a democratic record of entry where all entries are listed in an online format to show the complete story of all artists who entered the award and their works.

CONCLUSION:

After the judgements have been made, the winners received recognition, the acquisitions completed and the remaining works returned, the exhibition may be over but the legacy of the awards lingers on. Through the initiative of the regional gallery, sponsor support and the contribution of artists, these awards create a fertile space where ongoing discourse can both challenge and shape the development of the art.

 

Prepared by Dr Victoria Cooper and Dr Doug Spowart

With thanks to: Tracey Heathwood Director Artspace Mackay and Narelle Russo MPRG Curator-Collections / Registrar.

Dr Lyn Ashby, Dianne Fogwell, Deanna Hitti, Johanna Kambourian, Dr Clyde McGill, Dr Felicity Rea.

 

[1] Correspondence received from Artspace Director Tracey Heathwood
[2] https://mprg.mornpen.vic.gov.au/Exhibitions/National-Works-on-Paper Viewed 10 April, 2018.
[3] http://www.artspacemackay.com.au/__data/assets/pdf_file/0009/205398/2016_Libris_Awards_Artspace_Mackay.pdf   Viewed 4 April, 2018
[4] Jane Alexander, 2016 NWOP Catalogue, p 3.
[5] Correspondence from Dianne Fogwell
[6] The Libris and NWOP offer significant monetary prizes: Libris—4 awards, 2 acquisitive) totalling $15,000, and the NWOP offers a major acquisitive award of $15,000. Both awards have acquisitive awards budgets – NWOP allocates a further $35,000.
[7] Correspondence from Dianna Hitti
[8] Judges for 2018 Libris: Roger Butler AM, Senior Curator Prints and Drawings, National Gallery of Australia Helen Cole, former Coordinator Australian Library of Art
and the 2018 NWOP, Jane Alexander, MPRG Director;
Victoria Lynn, Director, TarraWarra Museum of Art;
Dr Kyla McFarlane, Curator of Academic Programs (Research) Ian Potter Museum of Art.
[9] Correspondence from Dianne Fogwell
[10] http://www.artspacemackay.com.au/__data/assets/pdf_file/0007/204955/2016LibrisAwards_IllustratedListofWorks.pdf  Viewed 7 April, 2018
[11] http://www.artspacemackay.com.au/__data/assets/pdf_file/0009/205398/2016_Libris_Awards_Artspace_Mackay.pdf  Viewed 7 April, 2018
[12] http://www.artspacemackay.com.au/__data/assets/pdf_file/0007/204955/2016LibrisAwards_IllustratedListofWorks.pdf  Viewed 7 April, 2018
[13] https://mprg.mornpen.vic.gov.au/Exhibitions/National-Works-on-Paper Viewed 7 April, 2018

 

 

SOME OTHER AUSTRALIAN – PRINTMAKING + ARTISTS’ BOOK AWARDS @ March 2018

Manly Artists Book Award—Bi-yearly, next 2019

https://www.northernbeaches.nsw.gov.au/things-to-do/arts-and-culture/manly-artists-book-award

Hazelhurst Art on Paper Award—Bi-yearly, next 2019

http://www.sutherlandshire.nsw.gov.au/Community/Hazelhurst/Exhibitions/Previous-Exhibitions/2017/Hazelhurst-Art-on-Paper-Award-2017

Gippsland Print Award—Bi-yearly, next 2019

http://www.gippslandartgallery.com/prizes/gippsland-print-award/

Swan Hill Print & Drawing Acquisitive Awards—Bi-yearly, current 2018

https://gallery.swanhill.vic.gov.au/2018/03/print-drawing-finalists/

2017 Geelong Aquisitive Print Awards

http://www.geelonggallery.org.au/cms_uploads/docs/2017-geelong-acquisitive-print-awards_online.pdf

Banyule Award for Works on Paper—Hatch Contemporary Arts Space

https://www.banyule.vic.gov.au/Arts-and-Events/Banyule-Award-for-Works-on-Paper

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LIBRIS ARTISTS’ BOOK AWARD – Cooper+Spowart Finalists

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The artists’ book TIDAL by Cooper+Spowart

 

Our artists’ book TIDAL is now on show as a FINALIST in the 2018 LIBRIS ARTISTS’ BOOK AWARD at Artspace Mackay, Queensland, Australia.

We are excited to be finalists in this Award exhibition. The awards were announced on May 26 – details of the winning works and a download of the exhibition catalogue are available at the bottom of this post.

 

ABOUT OUR ARTISTS’ BOOK – TIDAL :

 

TIDAL is a montage of fragmented imprints made from the solid reality of found objects swept up by the tide–beautiful castaways from the ocean.

These objects as image elements, no longer in their original form, are woven together as if a poem, song or dance. In many ways TIDAL relates to a ‘desire for that melancholy wonder that is the blue of distance’ from Rebecca Solnit’s A field guide to getting lost.  Or just simply it could be about the artist and their art.

It is book of double-sided cyanotype prints, when held to the light, allow for the montage of the images front and back, thus merging and unfolding the space and time of the page and the book. Reading becomes the blending of the fragments through the spatial divide of the turning page.

The video that follows gives a basic view of the TIDAL book:

 

 

 

ABOUT THE TIDAL BOOK PROJECT:

 

This project began with the collection of beach detritus at low tide after the super moon at Wooli, north coast New South Wales.

We worked collaboratively in the intense heat of Christmas Day 2016 to hand coat the cyanotype emulsion on ricepaper, expose the ‘found objects’ to the paper in the sun, and then wash-out in running water with a dash of lemon juice to create the double-sided cyanotype folios.

Over the next year we developed the structural form of the book, and finally returned to finish it at Wooli, as this state, over Christmas in 2017.

The double-sided cyanotype prints, when held to the light, allow for the montage of the images front and back, thus merging and unfolding the space and time of the page and the book. Reading becomes the blending of the fragments through the spatial divide of the turning page.

 

THE BOOK:

A unique state book of 6 double-sided cyanotype images on rice paper.

Book size 49.5x30x1 cm

The text was written by Victoria Cooper and includes a quote by Rebecca Solnit.

Folders and text:
Canson Stonehenge and Arches paper with rice-paper collage elements.

Garamond font family in pigmented inks on Arches paper.

This book is another work created in an ongoing series relating to the locality of Wooli and we acknowledge the support provided by Dr Felicity Rea

 

BOOK TEXT:

 

Frontpiece: TIDAL

 

 

OTHER INFORMATION INCLUDING THE WINNING BOOKS:

 

Category 1. Dalrymple Bay Coal Terminal National Artists’ Book Award

Winner: Clyde McGill for his work ‘Witness’

Category 2. Dalrymple Bay Coal Terminal Altered Book Award

Michelle Vine for her work ‘Contested Biography I (quadrat)’

Category 3. Mackay Regional Council Regional Artists’ Book Award

Jamian Stayt for his work ‘Tagged’

Category 4. Artspace Mackay Foundation Tertiary Artists’ Book Award

Jenna Lee for her work ‘A plant in the wrong place’

 

LIBRIS CATALOGUE

CLICK THE LINK BELOW TO DOWNLOAD A COPY OF THE CATALOGUE

Libris_Awards_2018_Catalogue_of_Entries_brochureA4

 

SEE OUR POST ABOUT THE 2016 LIBRIS AWARDS HERE

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MORE THAN THE COVER: Judging the Photobook of the Year

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The Finalists...

The Finalists…

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Recently in Auckland and Melbourne two groups of photobook aficionadas and aficionados assembled before 31 and 71 books respectively, and worked as a team to decide which of the books before them were exemplary of contemporary photobooks and, if consensus could prevail, which book – in each location, was the ‘best’ photobook.

 

The selection process is based on a ‘Judging Criteria’ that has been developed and enhanced over the many years of the awards which states that the judges will review each entry to assess the:

  • excellence of the photography, design, layout, typography and cover art
  • quality of the photo editing and sequencing to create an engaging visual narrative
  • ability of any additional imagery, text or ephemera to enhance the story in the photographs and/or book
  • appropriateness of the photography, design and format for the book’s intended purpose and audience

As the definition of a photobook remains broad, from photozines to trade coffee table books, a key consideration for the judging panel is to evaluate the ‘appropriateness’ of the book in the context of its ‘intended purpose and audience’. This aspect of the Criteria creates an opportunity for diverse products to be sensitively and fairly assessed.

 

The AuPOTY judges: Heidi Romano, Helen Frajman, Victoria Cooper, Daniel Boetker-Smith and Emma Phillips

 

The judging panel is purposefully selected to include experts in photography, design and book publishing. Each year these judges are changed to allow for representatives from different backgrounds, locations, gender, industry areas including design, publishing, media, cultural institution, academia, retail, art and commercial worlds.

Additionally judges weren’t allowed to score or advocate for books in which potential conflict of interest may cause problems. This is a particularly important issue as our photobook communities in Australia and New Zealand are small and connected.

 

 

The Photobook of the Year – 5 stage judging process:

 

Stage 1. A PDF of each book was forwarded to the judges in advance for them to gauge a preliminary impression of the book, its visual nature, content and narrative. Each judge completed a ‘first impression’ top 10 books spread sheet and provided feedback in the form of a comment and score for the books that they had selected.

Stage 2. The judges met and participated in some introductory discussions about the award and the processes that were to follow. After that the books were laid out on tables enabling the judges to encounter the physical and haptic experience of each book. Another ‘score sheet’ was provided so that judges could quantify their response to each book. While this review was basically carried out individually some casual discussion took place between judges. Many judges were to comment that seeing the ‘real’ book was surprisingly different from the impression that they had gained from the PDF screen view.

 

NzPOTY Judging team included Jonty Valentine, Anne Noble, Layla Tweedie-Cullen, Haru Sameshima, Ron Brownson and Doug Spowart PHOTO: From Facebook post

 

Stage 3. The judges score sheets were tallied resulting in a group of books being selected for round-table review and discussion. From this group activity the finalists were determined. In the AuPOTY 12 books were selected and in NzPOTY 10 made the finalist list. It should be noted that judge/s disclosed any involvement or potential conflict of interest with particular books or association that they may have with the author.

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Stage 4. In this, the final stage, the judges debated the relative attributes of the books working towards a point where consensus over the ultimate winner could be determined as well as any books deserving of ‘Commended’ awards could be made. This stage of the process was interesting to participate in or to observe, as the many differing opinions of what constitutes the ‘contemporary photobook’ made for a lively and informative debate.

 

A consensus was to be achieved in both judgings and the results were:

 

Australian Photobook of the Year Winner:

Astres Noirs by Katrin Koenning & Sarker Protick, published by Chose Commune

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AuPOTY WINNER: Astres Noirs by Katrin Koenning & Sarker Protick & Published by Chose Commune

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Recipients of Commended awards were:

  • Elsewhere by Fuad Osmancevic
  • J.W. by Clare Steele
  • Memorandum by Ana Paula Estrada
  • Some Want Quietly by Drew Pettifer, Published by M.33
  • Surface Phenomena by Bartolomeo Celestino, Published by Perimeter Editions

 

FINALISTS

  • Bird by Gary Heery
  • Courts 02 by Ward Roberts & Editions
  • Elemental by Rohan Hutchinson
  • Golden Triangle by Hannah Nikkelson
  • Kinglake by Jade Byrnes
  • Two Pandanus Trees Side by Side by Aaron Claringbold

 

Page views, the judges and other book details of the AuPOTY can be seen HERE

APOTY Website

 

 

 

New Zealand Photobook of the Year Joint Winners:

  • Rannoch by Simon Devitt
  • Touchy by Evangeline Davis

Rannoch by Simon Devitt PHOTO: From the NzPOTY Website

Touchy by Evangeline Davis PHOTO: From the NzPOTY website

 

Recipients of Commended awards were:

  • As the Road Bends by Blair Barclay
  • Duplex City by Blair Kitchener

 

FINALISTS

  • Conversations With My Mother by Shelley Ashford
  • R&S Satay Noodle House by Sally Young
  • Soap and Water by Bronwyn McKenzie
  • Someone’s Mana by Michael Krzanich
  • The Shops by Peter Black
  • Watching the fishes go by by Niki Boon

 

Page views, the judges and other book details of the NzPOTY can be seen HERE

NzPOTY Website

 

 

The travelling exhibition of the POTY winners and finalists

A&NZ Photobooks of the Year 2015 @ Maud Gallery in Brisbane PHOTO: Doug Spowart

A&NZ Photobooks of the Year 2015 @ Maud Gallery in Brisbane PHOTO: Doug Spowart

 

STAGE 5. In each country visitors to the AuNzPOTY exhibitions in Melbourne, Sydney and Brisbane are invited to vote for their favourite book, and the winner receives $500 cash + $2,000 printing credit with Momento Pro.  The winner will be announced via a Photobook of the Year Awards email later in the year. Subscribe at awards@photobookoftheyear.com.au.

 

Some personal observations and comments about the judging

 

As a witness to one of the judgings (AuPOTY), and a participant judge in the other (NzPOTY) I have reflected on the process and the salient issues, topics and well-discussed points and prepared this comment piece. I might add that these are based on my recollections of the proceedings as well as my personal thoughts gained from my involvement.

1

The universal definition of what is a photobook remains illusive. What judges think, what the entrants or others may think is a photobook may never be resolved. Although the perception of what a photobook might be does effect every aspect of the awards influencing who might enter and what their expectations of the award may be.

Also what is the nature of the selected finalists, and what book wins the awards, sends out a message to the broad range of people interested in photobooks to confirm or challenge their idea of what a photobook is.

2

Who made the book? Is it self-published? Or was it trade published? Was it a collaboration – did it involve a single photographer or multiple photographers with editor/s, publisher and designer/s? As all have a bearing on the book as a creative product or a commercial outcome.

3

What was the purpose for the book…? Is it for general consumers, niche markets or a personal record bound in book form?

4

Much discussion centred around concepts relating to design style, tricks of printing and binding, different papers, round fore edge corners, trendy layouts, typography, embellishments and packaging. Some books were considered derivative as certain features were part of last year’s trend or were recognised as being influenced by/taken/copied/borrowed from a recent well-known successful book. Therefore books with original concepts were held in higher esteem.

The question begs to be asked… at what point do any of these ‘derivative’ features become recognised as a visual style/form or narrative effect that contributes to the book communiqué?

5

The meaning and implications of collaboration.

6

Artist’s statements were often poorly written, or overtly academic ‘artspeak’.

7

One important consideration was that the book was as a total package where all of its components; concept, content, design, production values and binding were seen as creating a total creative entity.

8

Some common phrases from the judges were:

  • Fabric of construction
  • Economical
  • I wish I’d made that…
  • If only I could have had those images to edit…

 

In conclusion:

The Patrons for Australian and New Zealand Photobook of the Year Awards are Libby Jeffery and Geoff Hunt of MomentoPro. They have  funded prizes, coordinating the judging process: including judge selection, announcement events and exhibitions. Partners in the awards include Heidi Romano from Unless You Will, Photography Studies College Melbourne and in New Zealand f11 Online magazine.  Over 6 years these awards have championed photobook publishing activity and discourse and as such created a record of contemporary photobook practice in the antipodes.

The Australian and New Zealand Photobook of the Year 2016 will tour nationally in 2017… Visit the Photobook of the Year website for details.

 

Dr Doug Spowart

 

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TEXT: ©2017 Doug Spowart
PHOTOs: ©2017 Doug Spowart (unless indicated otherwise)

 

 

 

 

 

COVERING: The 2016 Libris Artists’ Book Award

with 2 comments

Artspace Mackay

Artspace Mackay

 

A COMMENT ON THE 2016 LIBRIS ARTISTS’ BOOK AWARDS

 

In his announcement speech for the 2016 Libris Awards at Artspace Mackay judge Sasha Grishin makes the observation that: ‘The contemporary artists book is characterised by boundless freedom’, and adds that: ‘… it has absorbed many conceptual frameworks, many art mediums and technologies and goes across the spectrum of the senses.’

 

Visitors to Artspace and the Libris Awards encounter an open space with islands of book presentation devices. Plinths of all sizes – some encased, others at floor level, there are shelves on walls, books as mobile installations hung from the ceiling and other books with ‘pages’ covering large expanses of wall. This is not an easy walk-through exhibition as each work beckons, siren-like, calling for the extended gaze of the reader.

The Artspace Libris exhibition

The Artspace Libris exhibition

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On this occasion the winners were:

  • Dalrymple Bay Coal Terminal National Artists Book Award $10,000 Acquisitive Award went to George Matoulas and Angela Cavalieri, with the text by Antoni Jach, for Europa to Oceania.*

 

George Matoulas and Angela Cavalieri, with the text by Antoni Jach, for Europa to Oceania

George Matoulas & Angela Cavalieri, with the text by Antoni Jach, Europa to Oceania

Grishin’s comments about the work were:

After much soulsearching I decided to allot the winning entry for the major prize to a collaborative and fabulous artists book by two Melbourne‐based artists, George Matoulas and Angela Cavalieri, with the text by the novelist and playwright Antoni Jach, titled Europa to Oceania. The three linocuts are by Angela, the three collographs are by George and there are another two collaborative foldout prints. The two artists, one of Greek extraction, the other from Calabria in Italy, with wit, profundity and beauty explore the migrant experience at a time when the Australian social fabric is under stress with the question of refugees and migration.

Highly commended in this award were:
Gracia Haby and Louise Jennison’s Closer to Natural
Monica Oppen’s Metropolis
Tim Moseley’s Kange pholu wanda

Peter Lyssiotis’ Blind Spot

 

  • Mackay Regional Council Regional Artists Book Award for a local artist went to May‐Britt Mosshamer for Tapping the knowledge.*
May‐Britt Mosshamer for Tapping the knowledge.*

May‐Britt Mosshamer Tapping the knowledge.*

Grishin’s comments about the work were:

As much as one fought the temptation, the $2,500 award had to go to the local artist, May‐Britt Mosshamer and her effective piece Tapping the knowledge. In art you can say very important things with a bit of humour in your back pocket. This work is all about the flood of information and the drought in knowledge.

The highly commended, or runner‐up entries in this category were:

Denise Vanderlugt’s I used to wrap rainbows
Jo Mitchell’s For Mary

 

  • Artspace Mackay Foundation Youth and Student Artists Book Award (under 26years), went to Brooke Ferguson and her The Small Garden (for M.S.).*
Brooke Ferguson The Small Garden (for M.S.).

Brooke Ferguson The Small Garden (for M.S.).

Judge Grishin’s comment on the work:

This is an award that is about taking risks, a punt and choosing the unexpected, the promising and the challenging. It is literally a once in a lifetime opportunity for an emerging artist to gain national recognition plus a handy fistful of dollars. I selected the work by the 25‐year‐old Brisbane‐based artist, Brooke Ferguson and her The Small Garden (for M.S.) The MS stands for the wonderful veteran artist, Madonna Staunton, where young Brooke Ferguson was inspired by a poem by Staunton and with gouache, pen and ink and pencil has created a fragile concertina – a beautiful sensibility from a promising young artist.

 

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In my opinion some books call for special mention. Caren Florance’s Pleasure demolition is transfixing. The suspended brown paper sheets with a hand printed letterpress phrases from poetry by Angela Gardner are animated by the flow of air and movement in the space. Forever moving, the oscillation of the pages becomes a machine for the generation of concrete poetry… phrases twirl and merge, poetic moments where new meaningful/less messages materialise.

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Jamian Stayt’s Soulless evolution

Jamian Stayt’s Soulless evolution

The individual pages of Jamian Stayt’s Soulless evolution are pinned to the wall making what may seem like a vast wallpaper pattern. However, Stayt’s work invites a closer reading of the cipher hidden within the layers of the image. He presents some big questions where contemporary notions of tradition are challenged and rapidly changing technology has intertwined agency in the evolutionary pathway for humanity.

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Julie Barratt Blair Athol recut

Julie Barratt Blair Athol recut

Julie Barratt’s Blair Athol recut refers to Solastalgia: a theory on the contemporary human condition for a deep loss of place. In one part of the installation there is a book of dark photolithographs where maps are encroached upon by black inks. For the reader this growing blackness evokes a gloomy absence. Facing the dark pages in the clamshell container are vials of coloured soils, plant fragments and found objects. Although collected from this disturbed place, these samples are vibrant and alive – perhaps they are the vestiges of childhood memories that recall a different time before the destruction of the physical place by coal mining.

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Ana Paula Estrada Memorandum

Ana Paula Estrada Memorandum

Many books feature photographs as the primary carrier of the narrative. Ana Paula Estrada’s Memorandum employs the medium to document elderly people and their connection with life through personal photographs and how their memories are re-lived through viewing these photos. The book, conceived and made through the Siganto Foundation Creative Fellowship in the Australian Library of Art at the State Library of Queensland, is a complex assemblage of contemporary portraits, photo-glimpses from family albums and a narrative conveyed through the turning of pages.

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Exhibition view

Exhibition view

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As usual the artists’ book as exhibition defies direct touch and the turning of pages for narratives to be revealed and for the book to speak of what it has allowed the artist to create. But for the 72 books in the exhibition to be read the visitor would need to stay for the duration of the exhibition, working through the night with white gloves and torchlight. The exhibition reconnects and continues the significant contribution of the Artspace Mackay’s Libris Award to inspire artists and create a space discourse on the book in all its forms. In doing so the assembled exhibition represents cutting edge survey of Australian artists’ book practice.

Some works will become part of the Artspace Mackay collection; others will be re-packaged and returned to their makers. While the exhibition is dispersed its spirit will continue in the form of the gallery’s excellent illustrated catalogue, the text of Grishin’s speech, reviews, videos and other commentaries such as this, as well as the memories of the readers who viewed the show.

In two years time – the next iteration of this important event in the Australian artists’ book calendar will take place again. Wouldn’t it be nice if the whole collection could be purchased and held in perpetuity as a record of the discipline? Until then …

 

Dr Doug Spowart

16 October 2016

 

screen-shot-2016-10-22-at-6-25-18-pm

DOWNLOAD THE CATALOGUE: 2016-librisawards_illustratedlistofworks

http://www.artspacemackay.com.au/__data/assets/pdf_file/0007/204955/2016LibrisAwards_IllustratedListofWorks.pdf

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A VIDEO FLY-THRU OF THE EXHIBITION

 

OTHER BOOKS FROM THE EXHIBITION

 

Denise Vanderlugt with her highly commended bookwork I used to wrap rainbows

Denise Vanderlugt with her highly commended bookwork I used to wrap rainbows

Peter LYSSIOTIS Blind spot

Peter LYSSIOTIS Blind spot

Martha BOWMAN You could have sent an email or a text

Martha BOWMAN You could have sent an email or a text

Jamian Stayt’s Soulless evolution (Detail)

Jamian Stayt’s Soulless evolution (Detail)

Bernard APPASSAMY Constellation of endearment (Detail)

Bernard APPASSAMY Constellation of endearment (Detail)

Deanna HITTI Assimilated museum

Deanna HITTI Assimilated museum

Gracia HABY and Louise JENNISON Closer to natural

Gracia HABY and Louise JENNISON Closer to natural

Caren Florance’s Pleasure demolition

Caren Florance’s Pleasure demolition

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All photographs and videos ©2015 Doug Spowart.  Main text (except Judge Sasha Grishin’s words) ©2016 Doug Spowart   With thanks to Victoria Cooper for her suggestions and edits.

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