look at me looking at you: national self-portrait prize

UQ Art Museum, University of Queensland, Brisbane | 11 November 2017 - 18 February 2018
Curators: Glenn Barkley & Holly Williams

Installation view featuring work by Vincent Namitjira and Ramesh Mario Nithiyendran in the foreground.

Installation view featuring work by Vincent Namitjira and Ramesh Mario Nithiyendran in the foreground.

The National Self-Portrait Prize (NSPP) in a biennial invitation-only, $50,000 acquisitive prize guest curated by Glenn Barkley and Holly Williams this year. Erica Green, Director of the Anne & Gordon Samstag Museum of Art at the University of South Australia is the 2017 judge.

About the 2017 Prize:

Look at me looking at you posits the roles that the spectator plays in the construction of an image, the exchange between the viewer and maker that drives an image or object. With the self as subject, this can be reduced to an intimate conversation that might take place in the gallery space itself or at some future time, as if someone has passed on a message to be later revealed and savoured.

The title is from the song (I’m) Stranded by The Saints. Recorded in suburban Brisbane in 1976, (I’m) Stranded quickly became an instant Australian cult and is now a classic. The Saints orbited around punk rock rather than being fully fledged members. Their intelligent, bombastic and pioneering attitude suits a more singular outlier vision rather than being part of any hip gang or fashionable style. 

Most of the artists in Look at me looking at you are also in this spirit, revelling in aspects of the hand-made, the hand-me-down, the urgent and the everyday. They come from a diverse range of backgrounds and ages, are at different points in their careers, and create a variety of touchpoints, from celebrating the banality of the everyday through to pop music, family relationships and the nature of identity.

about the winner:

Sydney-based artist Jenny Orchard’s earthenware figure Self Portrait as a Multispecies Activist 2017, was selected as the winning artwork from 28 entries.

“At the heart of my ceramics and art practice is a yearning for connection – connection with other people, but also with the world, the ecology,” Orchard said. “This idea permeates my ceramic creatures and totems – any of which could be a self-portrait, ‘this is how I am’, bits of everything.

“To create this work I’ve taken many components from moulds of plants, vegetables from the supermarket, tree rubbings, and debris from my garden – they’re reminiscent of phytoplankton, the shapes of clouds, eyes that reflect back,” she said.

Listen to the judges comments on Vimeo.

Particpating artists
Davida Allen, Robert Brain, Vicky Browne, Scott Chaseling, Karla Dickens, Julie Fragar, Will French, Helen Fuller, Dale Harding, Patsy Hely, Lorraine Jenyns, Jumaadi, Heidi Lefebvre, Vincent Namatjira, Claudia Nicholson, Ramesh Mario Nithiyendran, Jenny Orchard, Jungle Phillips, Lisa Reid, Marcelle Riley,  Madonna Staunton,  Kenji Uranishi, Justine Varga, Carla & Lisa Wherby, Terry Williams, William Yaxley, Paul Yore and Alan Young.

media coverage:

C. A. Xuan Mai Ardia, Australian artist Jenny Orchard wins UQ Art Museum's National Self-Portrait Prize 2017, Art Radar, 11 November 2017
Tiarney Miekus, Jenny Orchard Wins National Self-Portrait Prize 2017, Art Guide Australia, 10 November 2017
Phil Brown, Mirror Image, Courier Mail's Brisbane News section, 24 January 2018