John Fries Award Draws Record Entries



A flood of entries were received to the John Fries Award a day before the closing date on 19 February.

More than 700 emerging artists entered the John Fries Award this year, the highest number ever received in its six-year history.

The award attracted entries from early career artists across diverse disciplines and locations, from Aboriginal artists in remote and regional art centres in the Northern Territory, to experimental artists in cities and major towns across Australia.  The number of artists from New Zealand also grew by 188 per cent from last year.

“It’s really incredible to see interest in the John Fries Award grow by so much this year,” 2015 John Fries Award curator and judge, Oliver Watts said.

“We made some slight changes to help open the award up to artists who were able to provide a broad demonstration of how they’re developing their discipline. This has helped to encourage more emerging and student artists to submit their work.”

“We also changed the time frames to give our finalists more time to develop a new work specifically for the exhibition, if they choose to. This is a really exciting development for the show as we’ll be able to see completely unique pieces,” he said.

The entries will now be reviewed and the finalists’ shortlist developed and announced later in March.

For the first time this year, all finalists will receive an artist fee at NAVA-recommended rates. Finalists outside NSW will also be assisted with freight costs.

Some of the most highly-regarded professionals in contemporary arts are on the John Fries Award panel of judges this year, including New Zealand-born curator and acclaimed arts writer, Justin Paton and exciting cross-disciplinary artist, Nell. Long-term judge, accomplished installation artist and daughter of the late John Fries, Kath Fries, will continue on the panel in 2015 alongside Oliver Watts, as this year’s new guest curator. Read the judges profiles here.

All finalists’ entries will feature in a month-long exhibition at UNSW Galleries at UNSW Art & Design – the award’s presenting partner for the second year running. This continued partnership outlines both Copyright Agency | Viscopy and UNSW Art & Design’s desire to build a professional and resilient creative economy by recognising outstanding talent in the emerging arts sector.

The award’s $10,000 prize money has been donated by the Fries family in memory of former Viscopy director and honorary treasurer, John Fries, who made a remarkable contribution to the life and success of Viscopy.