Alexa Malizon a Finalist in this year's Churchie

Alexa Malizon, Dalawa (still), 2021, three-channel video, colour, and sound, 00:06:09.
Sunday 10 October 2021

Congratulations to Alexa Malizon, School of Art & Design alumna, a Finalist in one of Australia’s leading prizes for emerging artists, the Churchie Emerging Art Prize. 

the churchie emerging art prize 2021 finalists’ exhibition opens at Brisbane’s Institute of Modern Art (IMA) Saturday 9 October, providing a survey of the pressing artistic concerns of early-career artists following a year of extraordinary events.  

Guest judge Rhana Devenport ONZM, Director of the Art Gallery of South Australia, will announce the winner of the $15,000 major prize at the official opening and online via livestream on Friday 22 October.

Now in its 34th year, ‘the churchie’ has become one of Australia’s leading prizes for emerging artists, platforming a nationwide selection of up-and-coming contemporary artists and offering a $25,000 prize pool to support their careers.

The work of the 14 finalists will be on view at the IMA in an exhibition curated by Grace Herbert in a role supported by Armitstead ART Consulting.

Herbert commented that "the churchie emerging art prize presents a unique format and rich opportunity for both artists and the curator...It's particularly exciting that the finalists’ work will be shown at the nationally respected IMA, and the visibility this offers all involved.”

The artworks on show span diverse media: painting, sculpture, video, printmaking, ceramics, and installation, and reveal common themes, including diasporic experience, First Nations sovereignty, and the political and social conditions of contemporary life. 

The 2021 finalists are: Akil Ahamat, Tiyan Baker, Christopher Bassi, Leon Russell (Cameron) Black, Ohni Blu, Riana Head-Toussaint, Visaya Hoffie, Kait James, Alexa Malizon, Kyra Mancktelow, Ivy Minniecon, Nina Sanadze, Jayanto Tan, and Joanne Wheeler.

IMA Director Liz Nowell said, “this is an energetic and prescient exhibition: one that builds upon the success of last year’s prize yet finds its own unique voice through the work of emerging curator Grace Herbert and all 14 finalists. Across Country, materiality, and form, on display is the best of contemporary art in Australia.”

Finalists include the recent winner of the Emerging Artist Award at the Telstra National Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Art Awards (NATSIAA) Kyra Mancktelow, who presents a series of her distinctive life-sized monoprints, made by inking and pressing colonial-era clothing onto paper.

Also addressing First Nations’ experience is Joanne Wheeler, great granddaughter of renowned watercolourist Albert Namatjira, who presents two large paintings depicting her home Ntaria (Hermannsburg) in the past and the present. 

Sydney-based artist Riana Head-Toussaint uses her experience as a wheelchair user to dismantle the language of choreography in her video work First Language, celebrating different forms of movement.

Georgian-born, Melbourne-based finalist Nina Sanadze presents a sculptural assemblage of plaster-cast pieces salvaged from the studio of prominent Soviet monumental sculptor Valentin Topuridze (1907–1980), whose public sculptures were torn down in 1989 with the fall of the Soviet regime.

Through the lens of the internet phenomenon of ASMR (Autonomous Sensory Meridian Response), Akil Ahamat’s video installation depicts the artist in whispered conversation with a snail, examining the information age and post-truth era.

Prizes to be announced by judge Rhana Devenport on 22 October include the $15,000 non-acquisitive Major Prize sponsored by BSPN Architecture, a Special Commendation Prize of $5,000, sponsored by Fardoulys Constructions, as well as two $1,000 Commendation Prizes sponsored by Madison Cleaning Services.

A People’s Choice Award of $3,000, also sponsored by Madison Cleaning Services, will be awarded at the conclusion of the finalists’ exhibition.

This year’s artists join a notable alumni of finalists and winners including Emily Parsons-Lord, Nadia Hernández, Caitlin Franzmann, Judy Watson, Pierre Mukeba, Sara Morawetz, Michaela Gleave, Heath Franco, Agatha Gothe-Snape, Ross Manning, Sam Cranstoun, Jemima Wyman, Daniel McKewen, Justine Varga, and Madeleine Kelly to name a few.

‘the churchie’ finalists’ exhibition is free to visit and is on display at the IMA until Saturday 18 December 2021.

Updated:  12 October 2021/Responsible Officer:  Head of School/Page Contact:  CASS Marketing & Communications