Jenny Orchard Wins 2017 Sidney Myer Fund Australian Ceramic Award

Congratulations to long standing ceramicist Jenny Orchard, winner of the biennial Sidney Myer Fund Australian Ceramic Art Award.

On Saturday 17 June, Orchard was awarded $50,000 for her prize winning work The Imagined Possibility of Unity (2017).

She was selected from a pool of contemporary ceramicists including Glenn Barkley, Karen Black, Laith McGregor, Jenny Orchard and Yasmin Smith.

Judges of the 2017 Sidney Myer Fund Australian Ceramic Art Award were Jacqueline Doughty, Curatorial Manager, The Ian Potter Museum of Art, The University of Melbourne; Jason Smith, Director, Geelong Art Gallery; and Dr Rebecca Coates, Director, Shepparton Art Museum.

The Judges commented on Orchard’s ongoing presence as a leading ceramicist, stating, “Orchard has been at the forefront of ceramics as a contemporary medium for more than 40 years.  In an outstanding field of five leading contemporary artists working in clay, Orchard’s work is utterly compelling.”

Creating works that emanate with life – they are visual menageries that are in dialogue with influences from fine art history to the everyday. A stand out for the judges, they commented, “Her figures are invested with an exceptional life force that emanates directly from the organic medium of clay…  While Orchard’s work has clearly acknowledged references to art and design histories, including the Italian art and design The Memphis Group (1981-87), the judges feel strongly that Orchard’s work transcends all influences and powerfully communicates a singular vision.”

In response to being selected as a finalist earlier in the year, Orchard stated, “Being part of the 2017 Sidney Myer Fund Australian Ceramic Award is very exciting for me. This show makes it possible for me to bring together aspects of my practice which have been quite scattered over the last decades. I moved my studio home in 2015 and built a “shed” with transparent walls and roof to see the sky, trees and birds in 2016.

I believe optimism is the only way of being in the world. Quantum mechanics and bio-technology are an everyday reality never discussed, and yet our future on the planet depends on our engagement with them, so my work is an attempt to provoke questioning. I choose not to use shock, but to try to express wonder, and a gentle probing or provocation to look at the diversity and connections in the lively world around us.”

Inaugurated in 1991 as the Sidney Myer Fund Australia Day Ceramic Award, the award has evolved into what is now known as the Sidney Myer Fund Australian Ceramic Award. The Sidney Myer Fund have tenaciously supported the development of a now nationally-renowned ceramic collection at the Shepparton Art Museum, as well as artists through their support in this award, which has previously awarded now-distinguished artists Stephen Benwell, Deborah Halpern and Ramesh Mario Nithiyendran.

2017 Sidney Myer Fund Australian Ceramic Award
17 June – 13 August
Shepparton Art Museum

Courtesy the Shepparton Art Museum and the artists. 

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