Sidney Myer Fund Australian Ceramic Award

Applications for the Award have now closed.

The 2019 shortlisted artists are:

  • Julie Bartholomew
  • Stephen Bird
  • Greg Daly
  • Lynda Draper
  • Juz Kitson
  • Isadora Vaughan


Jenny Orchard, winner of the 2017 SMFACA, with her work 'The Imagined Possibility of Unity' 2017.
Photo by Amina Barolli, image courtesy the artist and Despard Gallery, Hobart.

Information for international applicants

We regret to inform international artists that the 2019 Sidney Myer Fund Australian Ceramic Award is only open to Australian citizens. We thank all previous participants of the SMFACA, and hope you will stay engaged with the outcomes of the Award.

Description of the Award Format

Judges will select five shortlisted artists from the EOI applications received.  Judges are looking for the ambition and scope of the proposed projects, the way in which the project engages with themes and ideas central to our contemporary world; and a sustained contemporary engagement with the ceramics medium, extending our understanding of the possibilities and sheer technical ability of the artists. 

Each of the shortlisted artists will be supported to develop new work, providing better career development opportunities for Australian artists, more strategic collecting for the Art Museum, and a greater depth to the exhibition for visitors and associated publishing. Artists will have the opportunity to work with the support of curatorial staff throughout the planning of their exhibitions, and other SAM staff during the course of the exhibition.

Five shortlisted artists of the Award will each receive a $1,500 contribution towards the production of a body of work for exhibition. Costs associated with the exhibition will be borne by the Art Museum including: freight; and the production of a fully illustrated catalogue. The Art Museum will also pay airfares and accommodation for recipient artists to attend the opening event and present at associated public programs.

There will be approximately five months between the announcement of award recipients and the delivery of works to SAM. One of the five shortlisted artists will be awarded a $50,000 acquisitive cash prize, and their work will enter the SAM collection. The prize-winning work, and any other special acquisitions to the SAM collection, will be announced at the official opening on Friday 21 June 2019.

Artists whose work is chosen for display will be asked to provide additional information (such as biographical details and a statement about the work) to assist with preparation of prize-related material.

Selected competitors agree to make themselves available for the purposes of exhibition-related events, promotion and publicity at times and dates and in places reasonably requested by the Gallery.

History of the Award

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 it returned to a format that showcases and supports contemporary Australian artists.  The Award now celebrates and promotes contemporary Australian artists working in the ceramic medium.  With ceramics increasingly adopted by a number of emerging and established contemporary artists, as recent exhibitions nationally and internationally have highlighted, the possibilities for the medium has significantly expanded.

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.

The Sidney Myer Fund

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 175 works have been acquired, creative a diverse and dynamic collection of works by both Australian and international artists. 

Key Dates

Applications open Thursday 25 October 2018
Applications close Friday 30 November 2018, 4pm EST (Eastern Standard Time)
Artists advised of selection Friday 14 December 2018 (approximately 5 months to installation)
Freight ready for delivery to SAM Monday 13 May 2019
Installation Period Tuesday 11 to 19 June 2019
Exhibition Opening, prize announcement Friday 21 June 2019
Seminar and workshops See SAM Website for details
Exhibition Dates Saturday 22 June to Sunday 1 Sept 2019
Artworks despatched for return to artists September 2019

Online entry form

Entries can only be submitted online with our Online Entry Form. You will need to read the Conditions of Entry before submitting.

Exhibiting the work

Original and non-infringing work

The competitor warrants that the work is original and does not infringe the copyright, moral rights or other rights of any third party.

Licensing the work

The finalist grants to the Gallery a non-exclusive licence to reproduce the work in material form, to photograph, publish and/or communicate it to the public for the following prize-related purposes, and anything incidental to such purposes, by the Gallery, touring partners and sponsors:

  1. marketing, publicity, educational and publication uses for the Gallery, the prize and its exhibition in all media, including but not limited to electronic/digital, broadcasting and print media, in perpetuity;
  2. in a print exhibition catalogue for sale, for the purpose of the exhibition and tour, with remuneration in the form of 10 copies, and/or an electronic form of the catalogue for sale, with remuneration in the form of one free download (subject to the catalogue/s being produced);
  3. on a postcard for sale, for the purpose of the exhibition and tour, with remuneration in the form of 50 copies (subject to the postcard being produced).

Permission to so reproduce the work must be conveyed by the artist to any purchaser of the work.

Where reasonable, the Gallery will attribute the artist as the author of the work and reproduce the work in full. Details of the work may be used at the Gallery’s discretion.

Helpful Hints

It is recommended that you pre-type your application into a word processing program first, and then copy and paste the text across into the application. If you are having trouble re-sizing images, there are free online programs which allow you to easily edit images. If you require further assistance with your application contact us at the Art Museum.


Dr. Lisa Slade

Dr Lisa Slade is Assistant Director, Artistic Programs at the Art Gallery of South Australia. She is accountable for the strategic leadership and development of the artistic programs and the overall management of the Curatorial Department, Exhibitions, Public Programs and Education. From 2011 until early 2015 she was Project Curator at the Art Gallery, during which time she curated The Extreme Climate of Nicholas Folland, Heartland: Contemporary Art from South Australia, and from 2011 until 2014 she managed the Adelaide Biennial of Australian Art. In her role as Assistant Director, she curated the 2016 Adelaide Biennial: Magic Object, Sappers & Shrapnel: contemporary art and the art of the trenches and was part of the curatorial team for John Mawurndjul: I am the old and the new, developed for TARNANTHI in 2018. Her current curatorial project is Quilty, a major survey exhibition that opens in March 2019 at the Art Gallery of South Australia before travelling to Queensland Art Gallery and the Art Gallery of New South Wales.

Stephen Benwell

Born in Melbourne in 1953, Stephen Benwell is one of Australia’s most distinguished ceramicists. He was honored with a retrospective survey of his work at Heide Museum of Modern Art in 2013. In the same year, Benwell was selected to exhibit in Melbourne Now, the National Gallery of Victoria’s survey of contemporary creative practice. Benwell has been the recipient of the Sidney Myer Fund Australian Ceramic Award, and in 2009 was awarded the Inaugural Deakin University Small Sculpture Award and an Australia Council Visual Arts Board New Work Grant.

Stephen Benwell received an Master of Fine Arts from Monash University in 2005. His work is regularly exhibited in Australia and overseas and is held in a large number of private and public collections including the Victoria and Albert Museum, London, the National Gallery of Australia, The National Gallery of Victoria, The Art Gallery of South Australia and The Art Gallery of Western Australia.

Dr. Rebecca Coates

Rebecca Coates is the director of Shepparton Art Museum. SAM has a growing collection of outstanding contemporary Australian art including Indigenous and non-Indigenous artists, and holds one of Australia's most significant ceramic collections, collected for over 80 years.  Rebecca is an established curator, writer and lecturer, with extensive professional art museum and gallery experience in both Australia and overseas. She has a PhD in Art History and was previously a Lecturer at the University of Melbourne in Art History and Art Curatorship, where she is an Honorary Fellow. She speaks and writes regularly on contemporary art and theory, curatorial practice, and art in the public realm, and sits on a number of advisory boards.