Inside looking out 2, 1988 by Trevor Nickolls. Synthetic polymer paint on canvas 106 x 91.5 cm Collection, Art Gallery of Western Australia C Courtesy Trevor Nickolls

Posted by Jeremy Eccles | 24.07.09

Gallery: Ian Potter Museum of Art - The University of Melbourne

Location: The Ian Potter Museum of Art The University of Melbourne, Swanston Street, Parkville, 3010.

The 2009 Clemenger Contemporary Art Award has selected four indigenous artists amongst the 15 long-listed for this important triennial exhibition at the National Gallery of Victoria.This will be the sixth and final Award in the series following a generous gift from adman Peter Clemenger in 1991. Since then, the Award has earned a deserved reputation as one of the most exciting visual arts events in Australia.

The artists represented in this year’s exhibition are Peter Atkins, Vivienne Binns, Stephen Bush, Domenico de Clario, Destiny Deacon, Janenne Eaton, Julie Gough, Louise Hearman, Janet Laurence, Trevor Nickolls, Dennis Nona, Scott Redford, Julie Rrap, Guan Wei and Ah Xian.

It's particularly exciting for Trevor Nickolls, the so-called “Father of urban Aboriginal art”, whose 35 year career – highlighted by representing Australia at the Venice Biennale in 1989 along with Rover Thomas – has been more mutedly received in recent years. Fortunately, his Venice curator, Michael O'Ferrall has remained loyal and has mounted a major 55 painting retrospective – currently at the Ian Potter Museum of Art at the University of Melbourne, but touring nationally next year.

Could this timely exposure have helped his case with the Clemenger?

It may also have helped the cause of Nickolls, Destiny Deacon, Julie Gough and the Torres Strait's Dennis Nona that the past two Clemenger winners have been indigenous. John Mawurndjul (2003) and Judy Watson (2006) round off a mixed list preceded by Bea Maddock (1993), Richard Larter (1996) and John Nixon (1999). Mawurndjul was particularly delighted – boasting his 'Number 1 status' for months afterwards.

“The Award draws together a group of established artists whose work is conceptually and stylistically diverse, yet unified in its engagement with some of the prevailing cultural and social issues of contemporary life,” explained Dr Alex Baker, Senior Curator Contemporary Art, NGV.

Michael O'Ferrall's comments on his Nickolls show suggest that the Adelaide man would be an appropriate winner in 2009: “Nickolls’s works are widely recognised for their 'dreamtime/machinetime’ theme, which combines the sheer natural wonder of the Aboriginal land and Dreamtime stories with robust symbols of urban Australia. It's become an enduring leitmotiv for the dichotomy of European and Aboriginal histories in Australia. His drawings and paintings reflect his personal experience as a Nunga man and his relationship to land, place and history. These relationships are of universal relevance. They make accessible ideas about nature vs nurture, the psychological and physical self, black and white, ‘insider’ and ‘outsider’ that inform our experience of contemporary life”.

Dr Gerard Vaughan, NGV Director, commented: “The Clemengers have made a profound and
important statement of support for contemporary art in Australia. The Award was always designed to conclude at the end of six exhibitions over a time span of nearly twenty years. But the Clemengers are now discussing with the NGV other ways in which they will be involved in NGV contemporary art activities in the future.”

The winner of the 2009 Clemenger Contemporary Art Award of $50,000 will be announced on
16th September 2009.
The 2009 Clemenger Contemporary Art Award will be on display at The Ian Potter Centre: NGV in Federation Square, Melbourne from 17 September 2009 until 7 February 2010.

Other side art: Trevor Nickolls, a survey of paintings and drawings 1972–2007 is only on until 2 August 2009 (but will be followed by a national tour 2009–10) at The Ian Potter Museum of Art The University of Melbourne, Swanston Street, Parkville, 3010. :


Share this: » » Digg it » reddit » Google » StumbleUpon » Technorati » Facebook

Contact Details

Gallery: Ian Potter Museum of Art - The University of Melbourne
Telephone: +61 3 8344 5148
Address: Swanston Street Parkville Melbourne 3010 Victoria

Gallery: National Gallery of Victoria



Where is the exhibition?
Further Research