Contemporary art for sardines

Photograph of Marrickville Contemporary Art Prize launch night

“Just how many people can you pack into one tiny art gallery,” I wondered as I squeezed through At The Vanishing Point‘s winding displays to find a drink.

The launch of the inaugural Marrickville Contemporary Art Prize was an upbeat but slightly chaotic affair last night, with 61 works packed into a narrow gallery space and probably every contemporary artist in the village jammed into a narrow corridor trying to reach the dodgy chardonnay and too-few spring rolls being served in the back yard.

’Pong’s Red Sofa didn’t win anything, but it was interesting to note how many of the winners were video installations and ceramic and mixed media works rather than “straight” paintings, photographs or sculptures.

I also thought most of the higher-ranked works tended to pack more Big Concepts into one piece, trying to tell a lot of stories all at once, rather than the clear exposition of one thought. Perhaps that’s just my preference for visual minimalism.

The exhibition continues until 23 September at At The Vanishing Point, 565 King Street, Newtown and Don’t Look Experimental Art Gallery, 419 New Canterbury Road, Dulwich Hill. ’Pong’s Red Sofa is at the latter.

Photograph of Marrickville Contemporary Art Prize presentation

And the winners are…

Open Award

First Prize: Lucas Ihlein, MAP
Highly Commended: Michaela Gleave, Cloud Machine; Billy Gruner, Floor Structure (Box Fold); Tanya Richards, Her Mother Craved Rumpion; Somchai Charoen, Out of Service
Commended: Mark Wotherspoon, Smoker’s Please; Bronwyn Tuohy, Possession — White Trash Series; Chris Gallagher (title TBA); Amy Prcevich, You were so R.E.C.K, I was so L.E.S.S; Graham Chalcroft, Weight Watchers Series

Student Award

First Prize: Matthew Rochford, Dulwich Hill DayZZte PhayZze 2
Highly Commended: Jemima Aitschison, Suspended Animation
Commended: Cheyne McGill, Fluorescent Connection; Rohan Carter, Ten Years This Year

Non-English Speaking Background Award

First Prize: Shuhei Nishiyama, SHOT — Sabotage Syndrome
Highly Commended: Nicole Barakat, Coming Home Story; Somchai Charoen, Out of Service
Commended: Goran Tomic, “The Anatomy of the Possessed” (x-ray of the artist possessed by the spirit of Joseph Beuys); Pierre Cavalan, We are more similar than we are different

Director’s Choice

Acquisition Award: Lucas Ihlein, MAP.
Highly Commended: Gav Barbey, The blood flow’th…, Gustavo Böke, West; Louise Brissenden, Only Child; Nicole Barakat, Coming Home Story; Loris Quantock, 33 degrees South, 151 degrees East; Amanda Hills, [Recycled] carp.

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