Thursday, June 19, 2014

2014 Yen Art Award at gaffa gallery - 19 June

So it turns out that this is the 3rd year of the Yen Art Awards which means the Big Lamington has coverage of 67% of their history (see last years thoughts here, I just re-read the post and it was a cracker!).  For those that can't be bothered lets do a quick revision:  Yen is an Australian magazine aimed at "smart creative cookies who love to be inspired".  I guess they target smart young creative cookies as this award is restricted to women aged 18-35.  Five judges in all (and yet they still didn't need me as a guest judge, editors my offer stands for 2015) and they have whittled the 530* entries down to 20 finalists.  Let's see who inspired this creative lamington cookie!

Now given the prominence of social media it is hard to keep anything a secret and so I'd already heard via tweeter that Claudia Nicholson had won this years award.  Congrats Claudia!  Loyal readers will remember Claudia has taken some points before (here and here) so it was great to see her recognised with a win.  Her work, 'Si Tomas el Agua de Neshuya (once you have tasted the water of neshuya)' (pictured top) continues with her pink dolphin theme which is a commentary on the folklore and myth of illegitimacy in Columbia (that is the pink river dolphins turn into charming blokes that seduce innocent girls).  Unless you know that back story I guess you are just appreciating the handmade aesthetics of the embroidery but with knowledge of the myth I find it much more interesting.  Also inspiring were the pencil or charcoal drawing of Phoebe Boyle ('Day trippin' in Versailles', pictured above).  There was some great technique on display here as the drawn folds were very intricate.  Top work and a great buy at $800.  Most of these works were very affordable (under $1k) so there were quite a few dots on the walls.  I'm a fan of collage so enjoyed Meredith Earl's 'Commonplace Magic' (you'll have to check out Yen's handy website which has a booklet of the finalists for this image).  And I liked the retro illustration of Camila de Gregorio's 'Birds 1'.  I had a great time looking at this exhibition, not only did I have the place to myself for my first walk through, but then to top it off I even got a curatorial tour from gaffa's own Grace Mackey at the end.  In addition to discussing the works above she pointed out Grace Blake's '3 hrs', '18 hrs' and '9 hrs' (pictured below).  These were prints but Grace's great trick is the framing which is actually coloured perspex.  Hello innovation.  I've been picking up a growing trend for inventive framing (Marian Tubbs, Phil James, and at the Frieze fair in NY) and this is a great continuation.

Points:  This is tough.  I was all set to give Claudia another 3 when the curators tips brought Grace Blake into the frame so to speak!  But the dolphin story takes it to another level for me and that pink pimp takes another 3 points.  2 to Grace and 1 to Phoebe.

* that is a lot, see them all here.  I am also going to call out a couple of artists that didn't make the shortlist based on my own trawl through the long list.  Two I would've included both rock a textaqueen aesthetic and incorporate a bit of text, Alanna Lorenzon's Things that are not healed (who has her own website here, good hustle) and Alexandra Sherger's Lana Americana.

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