the churchie
  • Emily Parsons-Lord, 'A raging event of continual noise (the Sun)', 2018, commissioned by 4A. Photo: Document Photography.

  • Nathan Beard, 'Floral Arrangement', 2019. Photo: Chris Kershaw Photography.

  • Nabilah Nordin, 'An Obstacle in Every Direction', 2019. Image courtesy of Singapore Art Museum and the artist.

  • Marina Pumani Brown, 'Ngayuku Ngura Kuwari' (detail), Acrylic on linen, 152cm x 122cm x 5cm. Image courtesy of the artist.


the churchie

emerging art prize 2020

18 September–19 December 202018 Sep–19 Dec 2020


‘the churchie’ returns to the IMA once more in 2020, debuting a new look and new approach.

Since its inception at Anglican Church Grammar School in 1987, the prize has sought to identify and profile the next generation of contemporary artists from across the country. Today it is one of Australia’s leading prizes for emerging artists.

Throughout its history, ‘the churchie’ has adapted to the changing world of contemporary art. After outgrowing its original home at the school, the prize partnered with some of Brisbane’s leading university art museums to present its finalists’ exhibition, before partnering with the Institute of Modern Art for the first time in 2019.

Continuing and expanding on the prize’s rich legacy, the 2020 exhibition will provide a survey of some of the most compelling art being produced by emerging artists in Australia today. The 2020 finalists are: Nathan BeardTom BlakeJessica BradfordMarina Pumani BrownMartin GeorgeYasbelle KerkowGuy LoudenLachlan McKeeGeorgia MorganNabilah NordinJames NguyenEmily Parsons-Lord, and Athena Thebus.

Independent curator Talia Smith will curate the exhibition, supporting artists to present their work at the IMA. The prize will be judged by Mikala Tai, Director of 4A Centre for Contemporary Asian Art, Sydney.

Thanks to generous supporters, ‘the churchie’ offers a prize pool of $25,000, with the overall winner receiving a non-acquisitive $15,000 cash prize donated by long-standing sponsor, BSPN Architecture.

Entry is open to artists of all ages and disciplines who identify as early career and are Australian citizens or residents. Selected finalists’ work will be exhibited at the IMA in late 2020.


Nathan Beard, Tom Blake, Jessica Bradford, Marina Pumani Brown, Martin George, Yasbelle Kerkow, Guy Louden, Lachlan McKee, Georgia Morgan, Nabilah Nordin, James Nguyen, Emily Parsons-Lord, and Athena Thebus

Curated By
  • Talia Smith
Curator Bio

Talia Smith is an artist and curator from Aotearoa New Zealand and now based in Warrang Sydney. She is of Cook Island, Samoan, and NZ European heritage. Her curatorial and visual arts practice examines concepts of time, memory, and ruin with a particular focus on photography and moving image practices. She has curated exhibitions in Australia and New Zealand including Artbank Sydney, Cement Fondu, Artspace Ideas Platform, and Papakura Art Gallery. She was Artbank’s emerging curator (2018), Firstdraft’s emerging curator (2017), and was a part of the 4A Curatorial Intensive (2016). She recently undertook a two month curatorial residency in Frankfurt, Germany with Basis and has a mentorship with the Director of the Singapore Photo Festival for 2020. Her writing has appeared in Art New Zealand, Art Almanac, Running Dog, among other publications and essays. Talia was the Chair of Runway Journal 2017-2018 and is currently completing her Masters of Fine Arts (Research) at UNSW.

We acknowledge the Traditional Custodians of the lands where the IMA now stands. We pay our respect to Elders past, present, and emerging.