the churchie emerging art prize 2021
  • Installation view, 'the churchie' 2021. In view: Tiyan Baker, 'dihan bitugung da pasar', 2021; works by Kyra Mancktelow. Photo: Joe Ruckli.

  • Installation view: 'the churchie' 2021. In view: Leon Russell (Cameron) Black, 'Pupuni Jilamara', 2019; Tiyan Baker, 'dihan bitugung da pasar', 2021. Photo: Joe Ruckli.

  • Christopher Bassi, 'The Garden and the Sea', 2021. Photo: Joe Ruckli.

  • Kyra Mancktelow, 'No Perception – Head Adornment', 2021; 'No Perception – Nose Adornment', 2021; 'No Perception – Dilly', 2021; 'Blue jacket – Blak skin', 2021; 'No Perception – Neck Adornment', 2021. Photo: Joe Ruckli.

  • Installation view: 'the churchie' 2021. Photo: Joe Ruckli.

  • Ivy Minniecon, 'White Washing', 2021. Photo: Joe Ruckli.

  • Installation view, 'the churchie' 2021. Photo: Joe Ruckli.

  • Kait James, 'Life is pretty shitty without a Treaty', 2020; 'Lucky Country', 2021; 'Captain Fu**er', 2021; 'Bloody Shit', 2021; 'Invaders, game over', 2019. Photo: Joe Ruckli.

  • Joanne Wheeler, 'Olden Times, Ntaria', 2021; 'These Times, Ntaria', 2021. Photo: Joe Ruckli.

  • Installation view, 'the churchie' 2021. In view: Alexa Malizon, 'Dalawa', 2021; Visaya Hoffie, 'Rich in cryptocurrency', 2021. Photo: Joe Ruckli.

  • Alexa Malizon, 'Dalawa', 2021. Photo: Joe Ruckli.

  • Visaya Hoffie, 'Rich in cryptocurrency', 2021. Photo: Joe Ruckli.

  • Jayanto Tan, 'Potluck Party Pai Ti Kong (A Praying The Heaven God)', 2021. Photo: Joe Ruckli.

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the churchie emerging art prize 2021

09 October–18 December 202109 Oct–18 Dec 2021

#thechurchie

‘the churchie’ is one of Australia’s leading prizes for emerging artists. Presented at the IMA since 2019, the finalists’ exhibition provides a survey of the compelling and diverse work being produced by emerging artists today.

The winner of the 2021 Major Prize is Nina Sanadze, who was selected by guest judge Rhana Devenport ONZM, Director of the Art Gallery of South Australia. Sanadze was awarded a $15,000 non-acquisitive cash prize provided by long-standing sponsor BSPN Architecture.

Kyra Mancktelow was awarded the Special Commendation Prize of $5,000, sponsored by Fardoulys Constructions, and Riana Head-Toussaint and Visaya Hoffie were each awarded $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 by popular vote at the conclusion of the finalists’ exhibition.

The finalists’ exhibition at the IMA provides a survey of the pressing artistic concerns of early-career artists from across Australia following a year of extraordinary events. While broad in their conceptual and material concerns, common threads include diasporic experience, First Nations sovereignty, and the political and social conditions of contemporary life.

The exhibition is curated by artist, writer and curator Grace Herbert in a role sponsored by Armitstead ART Consulting.

Artists

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

Curated By
  • Grace Herbert
Artist Bios
Akil Ahamat

Akil Ahamat’s work—spanning video, sound, performance, and installation—considers the physical and social isolation of online experience and its effects in configuring contemporary subjectivity. Across his practice, he uses the vocal techniques used in ASMR roleplay videos online. These videos have a deeply calming sensuousness that creates an intimacy between audience and performer across the physical dislocation of the internet. Despite the often-banal subject matter of these videos, the ‘tingly’, relaxing affects of the aural components creates an attentive relation between audience and performer. Within the public context of the gallery, this displaced virtual intimacy becomes a gently disarming platform for the artist to discuss the formation of his own subjectivity refracted through film, literature, and fashion.

Ahamat has most recently produced online works for Bleed: Biennial Live Event in the Everyday Digital, Arts House and Campbelltown Arts Centre (2020) and Collective Trace, PACT, Erskineville (2020), and has exhibited physically at Monash University Museum of Art, Parramatta Artists’ Studios, Verge Gallery and UTS ART. Ahamat was shortlisted for the 2020 NSW Visual Arts Emerging Fellowship and was the winner of the 2018 John Fries Award, UNSW Galleries, Sydney.

Tiyan Baker

Tiyan Baker is an early career Malaysian Bidayuh–settler Australian artist who makes video and installation art. Baker’s practice engages with sites of contemporary cultural crises. Her work often uses field research, documentary techniques and found artefacts to question established discourses and reveal bias, frailty, and failure. Recently Baker’s practice also explores her Bidayuh heritage, piecing together Bidayuˇh language, story, and knowledge to create new, hybridised cosmologies that help her navigate contemporary conditions. Originally from the Larrakia lands known as Darwin, Baker currently lives and works on the Gadigal and Wangal lands known as Sydney.

Tiyan Baker is an early career Malaysian Bidayuh–settler Australian artist who makes video and installation art. Baker’s practice engages with sites of contemporary cultural crises. Her work often uses field research, documentary techniques and found artefacts to question established discourses and reveal bias, frailty, and failure. Recently Baker’s practice also explores her Bidayuh heritage, piecing together Bidayuˇh language, story, and knowledge to create new, hybridised cosmologies that help her navigate contemporary conditions. Originally from the Larrakia lands known as Darwin, Baker currently lives and works on the Gadigal and Wangal lands known as Sydney.

Tiyan Baker
Christopher Bassi

Christopher Bassi is an Australian artist of Meriam, Yupungathi, and British descent. Working with archetypal models of representational painting, his work addresses concepts of cultural identity, alternative genealogies, counter narratives, and speculative worlding within the art historical language of painting. Approaching painting as a means of storytelling, with narrative intent akin to literature or poetry, his work sets the stage for history and heritage to become the foundation of a personal cosmology that explores concepts of place, belonging, and the entangling of racial and cultural identities. All the while researching the image as socially coded and embedded within historical legacies of western art history.

Leon Russell (Cameron) Black

Leon Russell (Cameron) Black started to paint in 2017 at the Munupi Art Centre and follows a strong lineage of artists from the Tiwi Islands. He exhibited in 2018 and 2019 with his art centre peers and had his first solo exhibition during the 2019 Adelaide Tarnanthi Festival. Black was a finalist in the 2021 Telstra National Aboriginal & Torres Strait Islander Art Awards. 

Leon Russell (Cameron) Black started to paint in 2017 at the Munupi Art Centre and follows a strong lineage of artists from the Tiwi Islands. He exhibited in 2018 and 2019 with his art centre peers and had his first solo exhibition during the 2019 Adelaide Tarnanthi Festival. Black was a finalist in the 2021 Telstra National Aboriginal & Torres Strait Islander Art Awards. 

Leon Russell (Cameron) Black
Ohni Blu

Ohni Blu was born in Central West Queensland on the traditional lands of Koa People and now resides on the traditional lands of the Gadigal People of the Eora Nation. They are an emerging interdisciplinary artist, curator, and events producer with a love of collaboration. Their work negotiates personal narratives across LGBTIQ+ identity, chronic health, and disability, and their practice explores themes of community care, radical healing, and vulnerability. Blu holds a Bachelor of Visual Arts (Hons) from Sydney College of the Arts and is currently undertaking a Master of Social Work at Western Sydney University. They have exhibited both nationally and internationally and recent exhibitions include PICA, Casula Powerhouse, c3 Contemporary, The Powerhouse Museum, and Verge Gallery.

Riana Head-Toussaint

Riana HeadToussaint is an interdisciplinary disabled artist, who uses a manual wheelchair for mobility. Her work often crosses traditional artform boundaries, existing in online and offline spaces. She employs choreography, performance, video, sound design, immersive installation, and audience activation to interrogate entrenched systems, structures, and ways of thinking and to advocate for social change. Her work is deeply informed by her experiences as a disabled woman of Afro-Caribbean descent, and her training as a legal practitioner. 

Riana HeadToussaint is an interdisciplinary disabled artist, who uses a manual wheelchair for mobility. Her work often crosses traditional artform boundaries, existing in online and offline spaces. She employs choreography, performance, video, sound design, immersive installation, and audience activation to interrogate entrenched systems, structures, and ways of thinking and to advocate for social change. Her work is deeply informed by her experiences as a disabled woman of Afro-Caribbean descent, and her training as a legal practitioner. 

Riana Head-Toussaint
Visaya Hoffie

Visaya Hoffies practice spans painting, sculpture, printmaking, ceramics, design, animation, leatherwork, haberdashery, and a range of craft media. She often brings these together in immersive installation. The artist’s love for a broad range of historical and cultural influences informs her slightly wry, amusing, and often revealing responses to contemporary culture. Hoffie’s most recent solo exhibition, Hot’n’Heinous with Innerspace Contemporary Art, included site-specific installations for BAD Festival 2021.

Kait James

Kait James is an award-winning contemporary artist based in Melbourne. She obtained a Bachelor of Media Arts/Photography from RMIT University in 2001 but only returned to making art in 2018 through her love of textiles and colour. By re-appropriating colonial images using crafting techniques she encourages responsiveness, unity, and optimism within and beyond Indigenous communities.

Kait James is an award-winning contemporary artist based in Melbourne. She obtained a Bachelor of Media Arts/Photography from RMIT University in 2001 but only returned to making art in 2018 through her love of textiles and colour. By re-appropriating colonial images using crafting techniques she encourages responsiveness, unity, and optimism within and beyond Indigenous communities.

Kait James
Alexa Malizon

Canberra-based artist Alexa Malizon explores the lived cultural experience of existing within a diaspora. Born in Australia to Filipino immigrants, her identity has been influenced by her upbringing between two different worlds. She explores this intersectionality through a range of photographic media to reconnect with her cultural roots and to engage with themes such as identity, miscommunication, cultural shame, and the representation of the sexualised ethnographic body. Malizon completed a Bachelor of Visual Arts (Honours) at the ANU School of Art and Design in 2020. She was the recipient of the ANU School of Art & Design Emerging Artist Support Scheme: Tuggeranong Arts Centre Exhibition Award, culminating in her first solo institutional exhibition in 2021. She also recently exhibited in Perth Institute of Contemporary Arts (PICA)’s Hatched: National Graduate Exhibition in 2021.

Kyra Mancktelow

Kyra Mancktelow’s multidisciplinary practice investigates legacies of colonialism, posing important questions about how we remember and acknowledge Indigenous histories. She is an emerging Quandamooka artist with links to the Mardigan people of Cunnamulla and is a recent graduate of the Contemporary Australian Indigenous Art program at the Queensland College of Art. Through sculpture, ceramics, and printmaking, Mancktelow shares her rich heritage, stories, and traditions, to educate audiences and strengthen her connection to Country. Her printmaking practice explores intergenerational trauma as a result of forced integration on colonial missions, while her sculptural work focuses on local materials, including clay, emu features, and Talwalpin (cotton tree).

Kyra Mancktelow’s multidisciplinary practice investigates legacies of colonialism, posing important questions about how we remember and acknowledge Indigenous histories. She is an emerging Quandamooka artist with links to the Mardigan people of Cunnamulla and is a recent graduate of the Contemporary Australian Indigenous Art program at the Queensland College of Art. Through sculpture, ceramics, and printmaking, Mancktelow shares her rich heritage, stories, and traditions, to educate audiences and strengthen her connection to Country. Her printmaking practice explores intergenerational trauma as a result of forced integration on colonial missions, while her sculptural work focuses on local materials, including clay, emu features, and Talwalpin (cotton tree).

Kyra Mancktelow
Ivy Minniecon

Ivy Minniecon is a descendant of the Kuku Yalanji, Kabi Kabi, Gureng Gureng, and South Sea Islander Nations. She uses printmaking, mixed-media, sculpture, photography, and video in her art practice, which is grounded in belonging. She has been a practicing artist in the community for the past decade and has recently commenced a Bachelor of Contemporary Australian Indigenous Art at the Queensland College of Arts, Griffith University. 

Nina Sanadze

Nina Sanadze is a Melbourne-based artist with a Bachelor of Fine Arts (Honours) from the Victorian College of the Arts. She was born in Georgia (former USSR) in 1976 and immigrated to Australia in 1996. Presenting appropriated original artefacts, replicas, or documentary films as witnesses and evidence, Sanadze seeks to re-examine grand political narratives. Humour and beauty allow her to address often disturbing concerns, reflecting the complex paradigm of our existence, which is simultaneously sublime and horrific. Sanadze has exhibited at Diane Singer Gallery, Bus Projects, Melbourne’s Living Museum of the West, Second Space Projects, and with the City of Port Phillip. Sanadze was the winner of the 2018 Incinerator Art Award: Art for Social Change, the 2019 Bus Projects Award, and the 2020 Victorian College of the Arts Graduate Show Fiona Myer Award.

Nina Sanadze is a Melbourne-based artist with a Bachelor of Fine Arts (Honours) from the Victorian College of the Arts. She was born in Georgia (former USSR) in 1976 and immigrated to Australia in 1996. Presenting appropriated original artefacts, replicas, or documentary films as witnesses and evidence, Sanadze seeks to re-examine grand political narratives. Humour and beauty allow her to address often disturbing concerns, reflecting the complex paradigm of our existence, which is simultaneously sublime and horrific. Sanadze has exhibited at Diane Singer Gallery, Bus Projects, Melbourne’s Living Museum of the West, Second Space Projects, and with the City of Port Phillip. Sanadze was the winner of the 2018 Incinerator Art Award: Art for Social Change, the 2019 Bus Projects Award, and the 2020 Victorian College of the Arts Graduate Show Fiona Myer Award.

Nina Sanadze
Jayanto Tan

Jayanto Tan was born and raised in a small town in North Sumatra, Indonesia. As a Chinese-Sumatran living in Sydney, his practice blends Eastern and Western mythologies with the reality of current events. His work has been shown at Verge Gallery, Firstdraft, 4A Centre for Contemporary Asia Art, the Australia-China Institute, the 66th Blake Prize, Incinerator Art Award, and the Fisher’s Ghost Art Award. He won the 11th Small Sculpture Greenway Art Prize. Tan holds a Bachelor of Fine Arts and Master of Fine Arts from National Art School, Sydney. 

Joanne Napangardi Wheeler

Joanne Napangardi Wheeler was born in 1969 in Ntaria (Hermannsburg) and is the great granddaughter of renowned watercolourist Albert Namatjira. Wheeler is a Western Aranda speaking woman, who identifies with the West MacDonnell Range country of her mother’s family, and Kaltukatjara, her father’s country. She also retains strong links to Anmatyerr and Luritja Country through her extended family, travelling regularly (pre-COVID) to fulfill cultural and family obligations. Wheeler’s work focuses on her country of Ntaria, Palm Valley, Hermannsburg Community, Hermannsburg Mountain, and the Finke River, over different times. Her painting is notable for its confident mark making and dynamic composition. She combines Tjukurrpa and personal history narratives, contemporary figurative and traditional mark making, and stories from the past and the present.

Joanne Napangardi Wheeler was born in 1969 in Ntaria (Hermannsburg) and is the great granddaughter of renowned watercolourist Albert Namatjira. Wheeler is a Western Aranda speaking woman, who identifies with the West MacDonnell Range country of her mother’s family, and Kaltukatjara, her father’s country. She also retains strong links to Anmatyerr and Luritja Country through her extended family, travelling regularly (pre-COVID) to fulfill cultural and family obligations. Wheeler’s work focuses on her country of Ntaria, Palm Valley, Hermannsburg Community, Hermannsburg Mountain, and the Finke River, over different times. Her painting is notable for its confident mark making and dynamic composition. She combines Tjukurrpa and personal history narratives, contemporary figurative and traditional mark making, and stories from the past and the present.

Joanne Napangardi Wheeler
Curator Bio

Grace was born on muwinina land in nipaluna/Hobart and now resides in narrm/Melbourne. She is an artist, curator, and writer whose practice examines architecture, monumentality, and methods of material and self-production with a political and feminist approach. Alongside her own art practice, she is the co-founder of Hobart artist-run initiative Visual Bulk and founder/co-curator of HOBIENNALE festival.


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

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