Shepparton Art Museum announces the 2024 winner and runners-up of The Urbach.

Shepparton Art Museum announces the 2024 winner and runners-up of The Urbach.

Shepparton Art Museum (SAM) is pleased to announce the 2024 winner and runners-up of The Theodore Urbach Landscape Prize and Studio Scholarship (“The Urbach”), a new $10,000 prize and scholarship encouraging explorations in the field Australian landscape painting. Echuca-based artist Ellen Lee becomes the inaugural winner of The Urbach, with artists Wendy Jagger and Anna Mackrell named the two runners-up.

Ellen Lee is an artist based in Echuca, Victoria. Her creative practice takes the form of large-scale, abstract works on paper that explore her personal, sensory experience of nature. In 2023, Lee presented a solo exhibition at SAM after being named the 2023 SAM Spotlight artist.

The 2024 finalists were selected from seven applications to the prestigious award. Four artists from the seven were shortlisted, going on to present their applications to an expert judging panel. The 2024 judging panel, chaired by SAM CEO Melinda Martin, consisted of Hannah Presley (Senior Curator, University of Melbourne), Dr. Drew Pettifer (Associate Professor RMIT and SAM Ltd Board member), David Hagger (Melbourne-based curator, consultant, and project manager), Rachel Arndt (Director, Wangaratta Art Gallery), and Briar Stevens (Equity Trustees representative for The Theodore Urbach Landscape Painting Scholarship and Prize Charitable Trust).

Of the strength of the applications, Dr. Drew Pettifer says:

“I was genuinely impressed by the standard of the applications to the Urbach this year. The high calibre of painting practice in the Shepparton area is a testament to the quality of the arts and culture in the region. The judges faced a difficult task in narrowing the field down to one final applicant, but after extended deliberations we settled on a unanimous winner.

Ellen Lee embodies so many of the values central to The Urbach and SAM. Working in an expanded painting practice, Lee engages with landscape, environment, place, and time through careful observation and generative site responsiveness. We look forward to the outcomes of her engagement with the site and community surrounding SAM." 

Theodore Urbach Landscape Painting Scholarship and Prize Charitable Trust representative Briar Stevens says:

“We extend our congratulations to Ellen Lee and runners up Wendy Jagger and Anna Mackrell on becoming the very first recipients of The Urbach. We are delighted that Theodore Urbach’s vision can now be realised through his testamentary charitable trust, to support appreciation of the Australian landscape and the translation of that into art.”

As winner of The Urbach, Lee will receive a $5,000 cash prize and a scholarship stipend of $5,000 to support her as she undertakes the three-month scholarship at SAM’s onsite artist studio from 1 May to 31 July 2024. Lee’s focus in this scholarship period will centre on the immediate surrounds of the museum, Lake Victoria, and the bird life that inhabits it.

As runners-up, Wendy Jagger and Anna Mackrell will each be awarded a $2,500 prize in recognition of their time and commitment in developing their applications. In an additional outcome from the judging, Jagger was awarded access to the SAM Artist Studio for one month later this year to further expand her practice.

Image: Ellen Lee, artist portrait, 2024. Photo courtesy of artist.

About SAM:

Shepparton Art Museum (SAM) is located on Yorta Yorta Country, Shepparton, Victoria.

As a leading Australian regional art museum, SAM showcases its exhibitions and collections in new and exciting ways to create a welcoming, inclusive, and engaging space for all visitors.

Recognised for its significant Australian ceramics collection and nationally significant collection of Indigenous art, SAM’s programming is designed to be locally relevant and engages with global contemporary ideas. Through its exhibitions, collection, programs and events, SAM creates a place where art helps us to better understand the ancient culture of this country and contemporary multicultural Australia.

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