Finalists announced for John Fries Award 2019

Published by: Copyright Agency | 27-Feb-2019
The Copyright Agency today announced the finalists for the 10th annual John Fries Award 2019. Led in 2019 by respected Melbourne-based visual arts curator and writer Miriam Kelly, the John Fries Award is a $10,000 non-acquisitive award recognising the talents of early career visual artists from Australia and New Zealand.

This year's finalists are:

1. Betty Chimney and Raylene Walatinna, SA - painting around the Indulkana Community (Yankunytjatjara )
2. David Greenhalgh, ACT - moving image and installation
3. Dean Cross, NSW - installation, sculpture and photography (Worimi)
4. Elena Papanikolakis, NSW - painting, collage, text, photography and drawing
5. Hayley Millar-Baker, VIC - photography (Gunditjmara)
6. Jenna Lee, UK - painting, print-making, digital illustration and sculpture (Larrakia, Wardaman and Karajarri))
7. Justine Youssef, NSW - moving image, performance and installation
8. Madison Bycroft, SA - moving image, performance and sculpture
9. Nadia Hernàndez, NSW - moving image, photography
10. The Ryan Sisters (Pip and Natalie Ryan), VIC - installation

Though there are 10 finalists, there are 12 artists - two works are collaborations; 5 identify as Indigenous Australians and 10 are women. This is reflective of the increasingly significant role of diversity in the development of visual arts in Australia. The award winner will be announced at UNSW Galleries on 21 June 2019.

Copyright Agency CEO Adam Suckling says, "The John Fries Award strengthens and champions Australia's contemporary art culture, as it affords early career artists the space and time to create. Now in its 10th year, the award has been an important benchmark, validating the work of early career artists. It is widely recognised for its role in supporting artists as well as enriching Australia's cultural life and community.

"This year's finalists were drawn from close to 500 applications representing a cross-section of early career artists. This award is so exciting because it offers early career artists the opportunity to showcase their vision, and provides audiences an insight into the diverse emerging talent we have in Australia and New Zealand," Mr Suckling says.

Curator Miriam Kelly says "Some artists on this list are already known by many, while others may be new to some. This is something we have come to enjoy and expect from the John Fries Award over the past decade."

"This year's strong finalists are each distinct in their approaches to materials and conceptual considerations," Kelly continues. "Their practices showcase a broad spectrum of multi-disciplinary art, yet for this exhibition finalists are drawn together by an interest in storytelling, and the roles of language and intergenerational learning in shaping our futures."

Many of the 2019 finalists have also worked internationally: Jenna Lee, a proud mixed-race Larrakia, Wardaman and Karajarri woman, relocated to London in 2018 to pursue her dream of creating art inspired by ancestral objects held within some of the largest and oldest collecting institutions; Madison Bycroft is currently based between Paris and Adelaide, working in performance, video and sculpture; Nadia Hernàndez is originally from Mérida, Venezuela, and is using her art practice to investigate 'the diasporic experience of a Venezuelan woman living abroad', while artist Dean Cross has also had a celebrated international career as a dancer and choreographer.

The 2019 John Fries Award winner will be determined by a panel of guest judges: Miriam Kelly, curator of JFA 2019; José Da Silva, director of UNSW Galleries; Fiona Foley, contemporary Indigenous artist and founding member of Boomalli Aboriginal Artist Co-operative; Gabrielle Mordy, CEO of Studio; and artist Kath Fries, former Viscopy board member and daughter of the late John Fries. The 10 finalist works were selected by this year's judges from over 500 applications which were shortlisted to 40 by Guest Curator Miriam Kelly.

The Fries family established the award in 2010 in memory of former Viscopy director and honorary treasurer, John Fries, who made a remarkable contribution to the life and success of the organisation.

EXHIBITION DETAILS: The 2019 John Fries Award is exhibited from 21 June to 27 July 2019 at UNSW Galleries, located within the UNSW Art & Design campus in Sydney. The exhibition is free-of-charge and open to the public. For more information visit:

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