Local photographer wins Sunshine Coast Art Prize 2016
  • Friday 02 September 2016
Sunshine coast art prize, michael cook

Michael Cook, Mother – Tennis (detail), 2016, digital photograph inkjet on photo rag, 80 x 120 cm
A thought-provoking photograph that explores the sense of loss has won the Sunshine Coast Art Prize 2016.

From 625 entries, Sunshine Coast-based photographer Michael Cook was announced as the winner for his work ‘Mother – Tennis2016 at a special event held at Caloundra Regional Gallery tonight.

More than 200 dignitaries, artists and guests joined Arts Portfolio Cr Rick Baberowski and judge Jane Deeth for the official opening of the Art Prize exhibition and winner announcement.

Melbourne-based artist Cyrus Tang was announced as the Highly Commended winner for her photographic work entitled 7403.00s.

Cr Baberowski said it was an honour to welcome artists and guests, and announce the winner of the Sunshine Coast Art Prize 2016.

“The Sunshine Coast Art Prize has become one of the annual signature art events for the region,” Cr Baberowski said.

“With a prize pool of more than $35,000, the Art Prize is now one of the richest regional art awards in Australia.

“There is no doubt that the high level of creative talent made the task of selecting a winner particularly difficult for this year’s judge, esteemed arts writer, curator and educator Jane Deeth.

“I would like to thank Jane for sharing her time and expertise in making that very difficult judgment and her insightful commentary on the winning work, the artist, the Award and its value to artists, collectors, audiences and the region. 

“The winning artwork will now become a part of the Sunshine Coast Art Collection, ensuring it can be enjoyed by our community for years to come.”

Judge Jane Deeth described Michael Cook’s work as a beautifully realised work.

“The work invites us to examine every detail very closely, revealing layers of profound loss and longing that can be read in many ways from the most personal to the most political, and connecting to memories and histories that continue to haunt the present,” Ms Deeth said.

Michael Cook’s work is part of his most recent series entitled Mother, a journey through 13 images of a woman in a deserted Australian landscape. The mother is always alone, her baby absent, although evidence remains of there having been a child: the empty pram, the abandoned toys on the hopscotch court, the slackness of the skipping rope. These images possess an arrested stillness that implies a recently bereft status. While these images speak directly and poetically to Australia’s Stolen Generation, they speak also to a universal experience of disconnection between mother and child.

Michael Cook will receive a $25,000 cash prize sponsored by Audi Centre Sunshine Coast and Sunshine Coast Council as well as an artist residency thanks to Montville Country Cabins.

In awarding the Highly Commended Award, judge Jane Deeth described Cyrus Tang’s work as a delicately alluring conceptual piece.

“This piece enacts events that are befalling our contemporary world – flood, tsunami and the destruction of war,” she said.

“The work is subtle, capturing time and encouraging close scrutiny, its immediate impact belying this devastation.”

In her work, Tang seeks to portray absence as a presence. The artist is moved by the collateral damage of man-made wars that have given rise to mass migration and homelessness, as well as catastrophic natural disasters. Part of a photographic series for which Tang made models of a city that she then destroyed by drowning over and over again as if by earthquake, war or tsunami. She documents the process of city from presence to absence by using long exposure technique. Each photograph is titled by its long exposure time of a city collapsed into nothing.

Cyrus will receive a $5000 cash prize award sponsored by local philanthropists, the Proost-De Deyne family.

Art lovers can vote for their favourite artwork in the exhibition by visiting Caloundra Regional Gallery and voting online via council’s gallery website. A voucher from the gallery gift shop is up for grabs for one lucky entrant.

The artist who receives the most public votes will win the People’s Choice Award and receive a cash prize of $2500, sponsored by the Caloundra Chamber of Commerce.

The 40 finalists’ artworks will be on display at Caloundra Regional Gallery until October 2.

For more details about the Sunshine Coast Art Prize visit council’s gallery website.