Tony Albert wins 2014 Basil Sellers Art Prize

August 14 / 141

Tony Albert, the 2014 Basil Sellers Art Prize winner. Credit: Peter Casimento
Tony Albert, the 2014 Basil Sellers Art Prize winner. Credit: Peter Casimento

The $100,000 Basil Sellers Art Prize 2014 has been awarded to Indigenous artist Tony Albert for the work titled Once upon a time … 2013-14. 

As one of Australia’s most lucrative awards for artistic representations and reflections on sport, the prize has brought new audiences to art galleries by highlighting the importance of sport in Australian culture.

It is funded by philanthropist, sport and art appreciator, Mr Basil Sellers. Now in its fourth year, it has provided a range of rewards for artists. 

In addition to the $100,000 prize, finalists are in the running for the 2014 National Sports Museum Basil Sellers Creative Arts Fellowship (valued at $50,000) to be announced during the Exhibition, and the $5,000 Yarra Trams People’s Choice Award, voted by visitors at the conclusion of the Exhibition.

The winning work consists of a painted target over which hangs 23 small framed works comprising watercolours on paper, photographs and collage, and small vignettes made of found objects – toys, blocks and figurines. 

The work is introduced by a typed letter by Albert to fellow Indigenous artist Gordon Bennett that pays tribute to Bennett’s important contribution and influence on Albert’s work, and acknowledges the elder artist’s sustained championing of Indigenous rights.

Director of the Ian Potter Museum of Art at the University, Ms Kelly Gellatly, commended all finalists for the depth of their engagement with the theme of sport and the quality of their art.

“The judges were impressed by the breadth of artists’ themes, which encompass the emotions and spectacle of sport, as well as challenging historical and moral issues. The ambitious new works by the finalists present a rich engagement with the idea and experience of sport,” she said.

“The winning work deals with the ongoing issue of racism in sport, and by implication, Australian society more broadly, and has at its heart the recent controversy surrounding the crowd abuse directed towards AFL player Adam Goodes (Goodes not only plays for the Sydney Swans, he is a dual Brownlow medallist, and is the 2014 Australian of the Year). 

“Issues such as racism will no doubt continue to arise and to confront, but the very public nature of sport ensures that it provides a platform on which to air, discuss and debate these issues rather than pretend that they don’t exist,” Ms Gellatly said.

The other 2014 finalists are: Narelle Autio, Zoe Croggon, Gabrielle de Vietri, Ivan Durrant, Shaun Gladwell, Richard Lewer, William Mackinnon, Rob McHaffie, Noel McKenna, Rob McLeish, Fiona McMonagle, Raquel Ormella, Khaled Sabsabi, Jenny Watson, and Gerry Wedd.

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