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Sidney Myer Fund Australian Ceramic Award

The prestigious $50,000 Sidney Myer Fund Australian Ceramic Prize for 2019 has been awarded to Lynda Draper for her work 'Somnambulism', 2019, pictured in detail.

For more information about Lynda's work and the Judge's comments, please see this news story.

The 2019 Sidney Myer Fund Australian Ceramic Award (SMFACA) celebrates and promotes contemporary Australian artists working in the ceramic medium. With $50,000 in prize money, the SMFACA cements its place as the premier Australian acquisitive ceramic award.

The 2019 shortlisted artists are:

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

Hear from the 2019 SMFACA recipient, Lynda Draper.

The shortlisted artists have presented their new bodies of work at SAM from 22 June to 1 September 2019. Accompanying the exhibition will be a series of public programs.

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

Above photo: Amina Barolli.

Julie Bartholomew

Julie is an artist and academic in the Visual Arts at the School of Art & Design, ANU. Her art practice is based upon a long-term interest in contemporary issues including consumer culture and more recently environmentalism.  Julie is currently exploring ice core extraction from the Antarctic, a project inspired by the work of Australian scientists.

She is a maker of objects with a traditional training in the craft-based arts who greatly values the hand made and the capacity of materials to convey meaning. Julie has chosen to work with porcelain and glass for the 'Anthropogenic Scrolls' project because the interior visibility of glass and translucency of ice-like porcelain allude to a disclosure of scientific evidence of global warming normally hidden within the glaciers of Antarctica.

Julie has participated extensively in major exhibitions and residencies in Australia and abroad. She has been the recipient of numerous awards including four Australia Council for the Arts New Work Grants, Tokyo Studio Residency, Australia-China Council Red Gate Residency, Beijing and Asialink Taiwan Residency.  After receiving an Australian Post-Graduate Award, she completed a Doctorate in the Visual Arts in 2006. In the same year, Julie was the winner of the International Gold Coast Ceramics Award. Her work has been collected internationally by significant art institutions including the National Gallery of Australia, National Museum of Australia and Yingge Ceramics Museum in Taiwan.

Stephen Bird

Born in Stoke On Trent, England and living in Australia since 1999, Stephen trained at The Duncan of Jordanstone College of Art in Dundee, Scotland, where he majored in painting. Making his home and a significant international reputation from Sydney, he remains aloof from any artist pigeon-hole. He works with both paint and clay and has also undertaken a number of site-specific sculpture commissions. Bird’s work is exhibited both nationally and internationally including The 9th Gyeonggi Biennale, South Korea, 2017, More Love Hours, The Ian Potter Museum of Art, Melbourne, 2015, Horizon – Landscapes, Ceramics and Print, The National Museum of Norway, Oslo, 2013 and Peripheral Visions: Contemporary Art from Australia, Garis+Hahn, New York, 2013. His works are held in the many public collections including the National Museum of Scotland, The National Gallery of Australia, the National Museums of Northern Ireland and The Art Gallery of South Australia.

Stephen has been awarded many prizes and was the winner of The Gold Coast International Ceramic Award, 2016 and the Deacon University Contemporary Small Sculpture Award, 2011. He has received professional development award from both the Australia Council for the Arts and the Scottish Art Council. He lectures at the National Art School, Sydney

His interests include comic books, English figure and slipware traditions as well as paintings and folk artefacts culled from his extensive travels through Europe, India, Asia and Australia. His use of words, collage and found objects as part of the final work, results in powerful multi-dimensional imagery which reflect on the global, transcultural nature of myths and ceramic archetypes. 

Greg Daly

Greg Daly was born in Melbourne, and has been a member of the International Academy of Ceramics (Geneva) since 1986. He is represented in over 80 national and international art galleries and museums around the world including the National Gallery of Australia, Victoria & Albert Museum, UK; American Museum of Ceramic Art, USA; Decorative Arts Museum, Prague; Stoke-on-Trent City Museum, UK; International Ceramics Studio collection, Kecskemét, Hungary; Icheon World Ceramic Centre, Korea, Faenza  Saga Prefectural Art Gallery, Japan, Aberystwyth Art Centre (Wales , Ariana Museum (Switzerland), Stoke-on-Trent City Museum (UK), Faenza Ceramic Museum (Italy), National Gallery of Victoria, Power House Museum Sydney, South Australian Art Gallery, Shepparton Art Gallery & Museum.

As well as having 100 solo shows, since 1975 Greg has participated in over 250 group exhibitions throughout Australia and 23 countries, including: Japan, Lithuania, UK, Canada, France, Croatia, Spain, Portugal, Turkey, Czech Republic, Taiwan, USA, New Zealand, Egypt, Italy, Germany, Greece, Korea, Poland.

Greg has been awarded 37 national and international awards, published three books on Glazes & Lustres, and also featured in over 25 book publications, national and international.

Lynda Draper

Lynda Draper was born in Sydney, Australia and is a visual artist who works primarily in the ceramic medium. She has received numerous national and international awards and grants including a Skills and Development grant and two New Work grants from the Australian Council for the Arts. Awards include the:  Premier Acquisition Award at the 54th International Competition of Contemporary Ceramic Art , held at the International Museum of Ceramics, Faenza, Italy; 16th International Gold Coast Award, Gold Coast Regional Gallery and the Sass & Bide COFA Art Award. Lynda is a graduate of the National Art School, Sydney. In 2010 she completed an MFA at UNSW Art & Design with the assistance of a Planex scholarship. 

Lynda is currently the Ceramics Head of Department at the National Art School, Sydney, Australia. 

Lynda's works are included in significant National and International collections including at the: National Gallery of Australia, Canberra; International Museum of Ceramics, Faenza, Italy; Renwick Alliance Gallery, Smithsonian Institute Washington; Artbank, Australia; Shepparton Art Museum (SAM) , Victoria; FA Grue collection, Italy; Collection of the Dutch Royal Family; Myer foundation; Campbelltown City Art Gallery; Gold Coast City Art Gallery;  University of Wollongong and the IAC Collection FLICAM Museum, Fuping, China.

Recently Lynda's works were featured in Vitamin C: New Perspectives in Contemporary Art, Clay and Ceramics, Phaidon Press.  She is currently represented by Gallerysmith , Melbourne and Galerie Lefebvre & Fils, Paris, France.

Juz Kitson

Kitson graduated from The National Art School in 2009 and has exhibited nationally and internationally since 2005 in solo and group exhibitions. Since 2011 she has been based in Jingdezhen, China, an ancient city famous for its porcelain, and regional New South Wales.

Solo exhibitions include the Australia Platform at ArtStage Singapore, London Art Fair project space, GAGPROJECTS / Greenaway Art Gallery, Jan Murphy Gallery Brisbane, Olsen Gallery Sydney and Zero Art Centre in 798 Art district, Beijing.

In 2013 she was included in Primavera at the Museum of Contemporary Art, and the 2016 Adelaide Biennial of Contemporary Australian Art at the Art Gallery of South Australia. In 2017 she was a finalist in the Wynne Prize at The Art Gallery of NSW. Since 2011 she has participated in residencies at Tshingua University Academy of Art and Design, Beijing, Bundanon Residency Arthur Boyd Trust, Bathurst Regional Art Gallery Hill End, and Gaya Ceramic Art Centre Indonesia.

Numerous articles have been published about her practice in Australian Art Collector, Australian Art Review, The Australian newspaper, Sydney Morning Herald, Art Almanac, The Journal of Australian Ceramics, C-File online, China Ceramic Artist magazine and Vogue Living Magazine.

Collections include The Museum of Old and New Art (MONA) in Tasmania, Art Gallery of South Australia, Artbank, RMIT University collection, Shepparton Gallery, Bathurst Regional Art Gallery, Western Plains Cultural Centre, The Gold Coast City Gallery, and many private collections worldwide.

Isadora Vaughan

Isadora has a Bachelor of Fine Art (honours) from The Victorian College of Arts, Melbourne. She is a current studio artist at Gertrude Contemporary and is represented by Station, Melbourne. She has exhibited extensively across Australia and attended prestigious residencies in America, Sweden, New Zealand.

In 2018 Isadora was commissioned to make a major new work for the Tarrawarra Biennial, From Will to Form, Curated by Emily Cormack and in 2019 a solo exhibition Gaia Not The Goddess at Heide Museum of Modern Art, curated by Brooke Babbington.

Isadora Vaughan is a visual artist that makes sculptural works that are characterised by the tension between materiality and form. She is drawn to the connoted and historical value of material and this intrigue also informs the processes she undertakes. Vaughan's research is driven by a curiosity to understand material intelligence and how matter can shift and escape control. Her work oscillates somewhere between the formal and the alchemical. Through the adoption of scientific processes from an autodidactic position, Vaughan’s current intention is to produce work that challenges traditional material values and evokes a sense of the body in action. Vaughan employs a process of speculative questioning that draws influence from varied disparate ideas and anecdotes within geology, craftsmanship, and science.

She is interested in materials ability to transform/transition from one state to another and how to convey this through both ephemeral and static sculptural installation that engages sensorily with the body.


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.

Hear from SAM Director, Rebecca Coates.

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. 

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.

Past Winners


  • Jenny Orchard, The Imagined Possibility of Unity


  • Ramesh Mario Nithiyendran, Archipelago


  • Australian Category: Kirsten Coelho
  • Emerging Australian Category: Alexandra Standen
  • International Category: Michal Fargo (Israel)


  • Australian Category: Stephen Benwell
  • Emerging Australian Category: Paul Wood
  • International Category: Anne Wenzel


  • Premier Award: Annete Defoort (Belgium), Dakis
  • Friends of Shepparton Art Gallery Society Award of Merit Prize: Angela Valamanesh (Australia), Animal, Vegetable, Mineral.
  • La Trobe University Award of Merit: Ian Paul Rylatt (United Kingdom), for Clayrinet.
  • Poyntzpass Pioneer Award of Merit: Merran Esson (Australia), Towong Tank.


  • Premier Award: Ana Rosenzweig (Spain), Portrait
  • Friends of Shepparton Art Gallery Society Award of Merit Prize: Vida Sobott (Australia), The bride stripped bare... and fled
  • La Trobe University Award of Merit was awarded to Tina Vlassopulos (United Kingdom), Spiral
  • 2006 Poyntzpass Pioneer Award of Merit: Hideaki Suzuki (Japan), Black Dimension.

Application Process

Key Dates for Applicants

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

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.

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.