SAM preparing for prestigous Sidney Myer Australian Ceramic Award

Please note: this is an old article.

This article was published on 30, April, 2019. The infomation contained wihin may be out of date or inaccurate.

Shepparton Art Museum (SAM) is set to enhance its reputation as the leading collection of ceramics in Regional Australia with the fifth biennial $50,000 Sidney Myer Fund Australian Ceramic Award exhibition, from 22 June to 1 September 2019.

The Sidney Myer Fund Australian Ceramic Award, is Australia’s richest and most prestigious ceramic award. The relationship between the Sidney Myer Fund and Shepparton Art Museum spans over 26 years. Through this relationship, and the acquisitive Award, over 175 works have been acquired.

This year’s finalists are: Julie Bartholomew, Stephen Bird, Greg Daly, Lynda Draper, Juz Kitson and Isadora Vaughan.

The 2019 Award will be judged by Lisa Slade (Assistant Director, Artistic Programs at the Art Gallery of South Australia), Stephen Benwell (Artist) and Rebecca Coates (Director, SAM).

The Award celebrates and promotes contemporary Australian artists working in the ceramic medium by providing an unprecedented opportunity for a major national ceramic award and exhibition in Australia.

Artists are encouraged to explore and experiment with the ceramic medium and to express conceptual issues which are important to their practice.

SAM Curator, Lara Merrington says “This year themes emerging are relevant to our contemporary times: the environment and our human connection with and upon it, but also a sense of wonder and magic – perhaps an optimism and escapism that emerges from these heavier issues.”

Greg Daly’s installation draws on a personal connection to landscape expressed through his glorious lustre glazed earthenware, paired with experimentations in new media.

Julie Bartholomew’s installation of tall cylindrical porcelain and glass columns are a response to climate change and scientific research in Antarctica.

Stephen Bird explores the intersection where painting, sculpture and ceramics overlap through an installation of satirical works informed by his Scottish heritage and a sometimes-interest in Greek Mythology.

This sense of myth and magic is carried through in Juz Kitson’s highly detailed sculptural works, which look at a human connection with the cycles of life, of plants, and of regeneration.

Isadora Vaughan’s site-specific installation investigates the interior and exterior landscapes of the human body as it relates to architectural space, geology and the natural landscape.

Linda Draper explores relationships between the material world and the metaphysical, and has been inspired by walks through the landscaped gardens of a recent residency in Versaille, France.

Ceramics has increasingly been adopted by emerging and established contemporary artists in exciting and innovative ways and recent national and international exhibitions have highlighted significantly expanded possibilities for the medium.

Director of SAM, Dr Rebecca Coates, said, “The selected finalists represent the exciting and innovative ways that artists are working with ceramics as a contemporary medium, and we are looking forward to seeing how their projects develop and evolve.”

The winner will be announced on Friday 21 June 2019. The exhibition opens from 22 June to 1 September.


The SMFACA is one of the most prestigious awards in the visual arts in Australia, with a uniquely ceramic focus. It has evolved over its many year history. It began in 1991 as the Sidney Myer Fund Australia Day Ceramic Award, and evolved into the Sidney Myer Fund International Ceramic Art Award in 1997, with the aim of providing an unprecedented opportunity for a major international ceramic award and exhibition in Australia.

In 2009, SAM reviewed the Award, and returned it to a format that showcases and supports contemporary Australian artists. Leading ceramicists, potters, master craftspeople and contemporary artists are now receiving recognition for extending their practice and the possibilities of ceramics. This has led to a significant repositioning from the craft realm into the contemporary art world. SAM has long supported this trend and it is this leading focus on ceramics that has attracted a new wave of emerging and established contemporary artists who have made the medium their own. Ceramics now appear in many national and international exhibitions and audiences are intrigued by the medium’s creative potential.

The Sidney Myer Fund was established by the will of Sidney Myer when he died in 1934. Having arrived penniless in Melbourne in 1899 at the age of 21, he wanted to give back to the Australian community in which he himself had prospered.

The Sidney Myer Fund Trustees are proud to be associated with an exhibition that understands, explores and challenges the possibilities of ceramics and art making in our contemporary world. As a direct outcome of the relationship between the Sidney Myer Fund and Shepparton Art Museum over 26 years, over 200 works have been acquired, creating a diverse and dynamic collection by both Australian and international artists.

In 2017, the Award featured outstanding new work by Glenn Barkley, Karen Black, Jenny Orchard (winner of the 2017 SMFACA), Laith McGregor and Yasmin Smith. Alongside the winner, Jenny Orchard, works by Glenn Barkley and Yasmin Smith were acquired for the SAM Collection.

Ramesh Mario Nithiyendran was awarded the 2015 SMFACA, his work showcased alongside exciting new work by Penny Byrne, Adam John Cullen, Sanné Mestrom and Ruth Hutchinson.

Previous winners of the Award have included such distinguished artists as Deborah Halpern, Gwyn Hansson-Piggott and Stephen Benwell.

More information here.