22 January 2010

Siemens-RMIT Fine Art Scholarships – Judges Report 2009

Becc Orszag received the Siemens-RMIT Acquisition prize for her charcoal drawing, cannot contain this, 2009

Becc Orszag received the Siemens-RMIT Acquisition prize for her charcoal drawing, cannot contain this, 2009.

It's not an easy task – from more than 200 entries into the Siemens-RMIT Fine Art Awards, the judges must select a shortlist of finalists to be exhibited in RMIT Gallery.

In 2009, there were 43 on the shortlist. The five judges then had to select a final 8 – 5 undergraduate and 3 postgraduate winners, who would receive a combined $32,000 in prize money.

This year the judges were: Chris Bond, Artist and RMIT Alumni; Katarina Frank, RMIT School of Art, Artist in Residence (from Sweden); Gina Lee, Associate Director, Niagara Gallery; Richard Harding, RMIT Printmaking Studio Coordinator, and Thomas Bader, Marketing Manager, Siemens.

A team of judges from Siemens then selected a winner from this group of eight to enter in the Siemens Corporate Collection. The prize winner of this award – this year Becc Orszag – received an additional $1,000.

This year's winners are now on display at RMIT Gallery until 23 January.

The Undergraduate Scholarship Awards of $2,000 for spending on travel go to:

  • Jennifer Bishop, (Brunswick) second year Bachelor of Art – Sculpture, for her sculpture We’re on a Road to Nowhere.
  • Malcolm Lloyd, (Brunswick) third year Bachelor of Art – Drawing, for his perforated paper piece Punching time #5.
  • Becc Orszag, (Blackburn North) second year Bachelor of Fine Art – Drawing student, for her charcoal on paper work cannot contain this.
  • Clare Rae, (East Melbourne) Bachelor of Fine Art (Honours) – Photography, for her series of three inkjet photographs From Climbing the Walls and other Actions
  • Lucie Hallenstein, (Boronia) third year Bachelor of Fine Art – Painting, for her large folded paper work Paper Shelter.

The three Postgraduate Scholarship Awards of $7,000 each go to:

  • Marita Lillie, (Malvern) Master of Art candidate, with her works With and Without Consent, and Untitled # 6 Public Transport Surveillance Series.
  • Saskia Moore, (Reservoir) Master of Fine Art graduate, for her work comprising of a mass collection of envelopes entitled The Fold.
  • Ernesto Rios Lanz, (West Melbourne) international student and DFA candidate, for his multi-media work Sand Clock.

RMIT School of Art Associate Professor Peter Ellis, who has been involved in the Awards for the past nine years, said that what makes the Siemens RMIT Fine Art Scholarships unique is that they are for current students.

"It is rare that organisations such as Siemens put money into students," he said.

"It gives them a great boost to their career. Many of the students who have received awards have gone onto to highly successful careers as artists."

Each year the judges are different and represent a wide cross section from industry. They have included curators from the National Gallery of Victoria, writers, practising established artists and arts alumni. Some students come back as judges five or more years after they have graduated.

"Students can enter the awards themselves. We have students who might be in first year up against people doing their doctoral studies,” Prof Ellis said.

He said that all nine studio areas are also represented in the school of art – ceramics, drawing, fine art, photography, gold and silver smithing, media arts, painting, printmaking and sculpture.

"For some students, it's the first time they have been exhibited in a prestigious and well-appointed gallery space,” he said.

“It gives them the full experience of being a practicing professional artist. It is real world experience and it's what RMIT prides itself on."

Painting lecturer Dr Wilma Tabacco agrees. She has been involved in the Siemens Awards for eight years, although not as a judge, as she teaches many of those who apply for the awards.

"It has been really interesting to see work from a lot of other discipline areas – the mix here is fabulous – and as a lecturer, I can tell you that the students are very positive about the awards but also quite competitive when it comes to putting in applications.

Dr Tabacco said that behind the scenes there is a lot of concern amongst students of how to best present their applications as, naturally, everyone wants to win.

"During the exhibition, the finalists are always terribly excited, especially when awards announced. At one awards night, the winner of the Acquisitive Award was almost hysterical with delight and hugged and kissed the guest speaker – who was a prominent politician!

"It is so difficult for arts students to be financially independent to receive money to travel, the Siemens awards are such a fantastic opportunity."

This is what some of the 2009 judges have to say about this year's entrants:

Contemporary visual artist and former RMIT art student Chris Bond was a judge in 2009.

“It has been a fascinating couple of weeks doing the judging: from the initial selections that we made a few weeks ago to the judging process that we made here today.

"It is fantastic to see the range of work in different disciplines and also the amount of new media work and installations, and also seeing artists who are also working in the more traditional mediums of painting and drawing."

Mr Thomas Bader, from Siemens, said that as a global company, he was proud they had been able to support this type of award over the last nine years.

"The judges and committee made interesting and creative decisions on the awards,” he said.

“I am delighted with the creativity and variety that I have seen today and I saw the first pictures in first round of judging - seeing all art pieces in the gallery setting is quite different, and it's a great pleasure to see the exhibition in its entirety."

RMIT Printmaking Studio Coordinator Richard Harding said one of the most prevalent traits within this group show is the diversity even within mediums.

For media enquiries, photos and interviews with artists:

RMIT Gallery Media Coordinator, Evelyn Tsitas, (03) 9925 1716, 0418 139 015, or evelyn.tsitas@rmit.edu.au.