Winners 2016




Bega Valley Regional Gallery – Flora Australis: Australian Artists and the Floral Still Life

This exhibition drew upon the Art Gallery of New South Wales’ (AGNSW) historical collection to present floral still lives from Australian Masters. Contemporary artists known for their work in the genre were also invited to participate. The resultant exhibition surveyed the past 100 years of depiction of the floral in Australian art.

By forming partnerships with local tourism bodies and strategically aligning the exhibition with the Four Winds Festival, the Gallery created a targeted marketing campaign across the region. This resulted in a record attendance of over 5,000 visitors.

The inclusion of historically significant works from the AGNSW collection with connections to the local area helped audiences develop a renewed pride in their civic facilities. The exhibition showcased the region as a culturally active and vibrant destination and introduced regional audiences to contemporary artists.

A number of complementary access and learning programs were held both in the gallery and around the local area.


Highly Commended

Fairfield City Museum & Gallery – Talk the Change/Change the Talk: an exhibition of Aboriginal self-determination

Featuring Aboriginal artists from Western Sydney and beyond, this exhibition tells an urban story of survival and self-determination. Curated by Blak Douglas and Lena Nahlous, it uses art as a voice to communicate Aboriginal culture—making the message as accessible as possible.

This is the first exhibition produced by the Gallery that combines multiple modes of storytelling, contemporary art, film, oral histories and music to celebrate the strength and survival of our local Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander communities. These mediums combined to present Indigenous peoples’ constant resistance and struggles for recognition, social and political change.

The project partnered with the Australian Museum and Bonnyrigg High School. Aboriginal artist Christopher Reid worked with students to create paintings exploring the themes of the exhibition. This was highly successful as it was the first time some students had engaged and explored their cultural identity in a school setting.
The exhibition also profiled two local groups—Guntawang Aboriginal Women’s Group and Li’l Possums Playgroup—which have become spaces for solidarity, connection and creativity.





Manly Art Gallery & Museum, Mosman Art Gallery and S H Ervin Gallery – Destination Sydney

A unique collaboration across three Sydney galleries the exhibition’s theme was to show the works of key artists whose art has shaped our vision of Sydney. It provided an opportunity for visitors to revel in the art made by nine artists who celebrated the natural wonder of Sydney. The artists chosen were Brett Whiteley, Lloyd Rees, Elisabeth Cummings , Kevin Connor, John Olsen, Peter Kingston and Margaret Preston, Grace Cosssington Smith and Cressida Campbell .

The curatorial rationale of placing the show amongst three galleries: each having three prominent artists, at least one of whom was living, was a unique and innovative format. The greatest surprise of the exhibition was that the majority of visitors went to all three venues and were excited by this aspect. As critical press coverage was so high and word of mouth recommendation was strong, visitors felt somewhat compelled to attend and were delighted with what they saw and then visited the other venues. It was also a means by which three galleries could work in partnership and re-invigorate themselves by proclaiming their existence amongst Sydney’s competitive leisure-activity market.


Highly Commended

Bathurst Regional Art Gallery – Jonathan Jones: guwiinyguliya yirgabiyi ngay gulbalangidyal ngunhi (they made a solitude and called it peace)

This exhibition was commissioned in collaboration with the Bathurst Wiradjuri and Aboriginal Community Elders as part of Bathurst’s Centennial celebrations.

Initially conceived as a project to commission Jonathan Jones to create a 3 channel video work commemorating the life of Wiradjuri warrior Windradyne, this project grew to encompass a series of profoundly beautiful and haunting installations that told of Bathurst’s loaded history through the stories of Bathurst’s Wiradjuri elders. It looked at the Wiradjuri history of the settlement of Bathurst through a series of video works, installations and community-engagement workshops.

This exhibition provided a tool for healing and cultural pride within local Wiradjuri and Aboriginal communities, who were empowered to tell their story of settlement and displacement through Jonathan Jones’ sensitive and powerful visual narratives.




Campbelltown Arts Centre – With Secrecy and Despatch

April 17 2016, marks a significant date in Australia’s history—the 200th anniversary of the Appin Massacre. Governor Lachlan Macquarie ordered the displacement of Aboriginal people within the region of Appin, NSW, with directions that they be captured or shot if they try to escape.

Using the Appin Massacre as a catalyst, six Aboriginal Australian artists and four First Nation Canadian artists were commissioned to create new works that either deal directly with the Massacre or draw from the shared brutalities across both nations.

The exhibition demonstrated considerable innovation in the work produced and curatorial style. In addition to the innovation demonstrated in the project’s community-oriented development; the international perspective on local histories; and creating a platform for difficult conversation.


Highly Commended

Carriageworks – El Anatsui: Five Decades

Acknowledged worldwide as one of the most remarkable artists working today, El Anatsui’s meticulously constructed assemblages examine the complex histories of post-colonial Africa and the issues of consumption, waste and the environment.

Presenting more than 30 of Anatsui’s works from the 1970s to the current day, the exhibition included ceramics, drawings, sculptures and woodcarvings, alongside the intricate and expansive, large-scale installations for which the artist is best known.

This exhibition probed the histories of colonial and post-colonial Africa alongside themes of migration, consumption, cultural exchange and renewal and the limitless beauty found in the everyday. Anatsui’s works present a coming together of cultures, artistic traditions and contemporary life.



Narromine Aviation Museum – New Wing Exhibition

In accordance with the museum’s vision, mission and five-year plan, a new 500-square-metre extension to the existing museum space was completed in 2016. The aim was to fully and innovatively utilise the additional space to greatly improve the visitor experience.

With the exception of a few elements that have been moved from the old museum space, the new wing features an entirely new exhibition focusing on three themes: pre-1939, gliding, and aviation technology. The new exhibition also includes three aircraft the Museum was previously unable to display.

The innovative design of the new wing has been inspired by aviation, the curved roof trusses are reminiscent of aircraft wing structure and the polished concrete floor echoes that of an aircraft hanger. Aircraft are lit from below using low-light programmable LED display lighting, which has a low operating cost and long life. Lighting is used to dramatically highlight aspects of the aircraft on display such as rigging or internal wing structures.

Audio-visuals are integral to the new displays. A 5.5-metre screen, with a projector activated by visitors via touchscreen menu, plays relevant historic footage on demand. Period background music will soon be available, and audio segments from the collection’s oral history interviews will be selectable via touchscreen.

Highly Commended

Gilgandra Museum & Historical Society – Gilgandra’s Coo-ees

This project set out to recognise and honour the centenary of the Gilgandra Coo-ee Marchers, who marched to Sydney in order to recruit for and enlist in the war effort.

Individual photographs of some of the Coo-ees already featured in the Museum however there were quite a few gaps and research on service records were incomplete.  Obtaining missing photographs of the servicemen and following up on their stories during and following the war become a mission.

The design of the new Honour Wall was carefully considered in order to complement exisiting displays and blend-in appropriately with the gallery’s mudbrick wall construction.

The introduction panel and other features and displays in the Gallery were included in this process in a sympathetic and complementary manner to engage visitors in the Coo-ee Story and in particular the lives of these young men who marched off to war so long ago.


Highly Commended

Woodford Academy – Art at the Academy – a year of exhibitions at the Woodford Academy 2014/2015

This publication, published in November 2015, documents the first year of site-specific exhibitions, installations and performances held at the Woodford Academy monthly open days in 2014/2015.

Featuring stunning professional photography and statements from participating artists, the book captures the calibre and diversity of the unique works produced by Blue Mountains artists and performers. The work of these artists has added intriguing, beautiful and inspiring new layers of meaning and social relevance to this historic building and helped engage a broad new audience for the museum.

The publication provides an illuminating insight into the contemporary creative community of the Blue Mountains. The publication raises important issues about the financial challenges of heritage conservation in regional areas, and offers an insight as to how collaboration with local artists may assist regional museums to remain relevant as audiences change and evolve.




Fighter World Aviation Museum – Ejection Seat Display

Early in 2014 the Museum was looking for innovative ways to tell the story of three ejection seats on display in a quiet corner. One of the seats had been used to save the life of a young fighter pilot in 1967. The display needed to tell the story of the development of the ejection seat while conveying an understanding of the extreme environment in which the seats were required to operate and the need for 100% reliability.

A concept was developed to construct a display that generated a sense of movement and an understanding of the engineering processes that had been developed to make these seats one of the great engineering marvels of the 20th century. The Museum sought the assistance of a diverse design team to create the display.

The result is a bold exhibit that conveys the industrial technology that goes into creating ejection seats and tells the story of their development. Its innovative use of lighting and touch screen interactivity has made the display a centrepiece of the museum, and children love to be photographed sitting on the elevated seat.




Australian National Maritime Museum – Action Stations

This project is the biggest public initiative the Museum has undertaken since it opened in 1991. The experience has three major facets; new on-board interpretation of HMAS Vampire and HMAS Onslow; an eight minute film, and a Discovery and Exploration space.

In the on-board vessel experience 20 key spaces have new interpretation, conveying a dramatic, poignant or personal story from that room. Standard graphic panels were minimised in these rooms. Instead creative manifestations of each story were developed utilising art, sound, metaphor and lighting to engage visitors emotionally and capture their imaginations.

The Museum partnered with James Humberstone of the Sydney Conservatorium of Music to compose the soundscape for the on-board vessel interpretations.

The Museum commissioned a short film dramatising life on board the vessels. The film features live action combined with CGI special effects and is projected on a giant screen transporting visitors inside Vampire and Onslow during operations. Visitors can then leave the cinema space excited to explore the actual vessels.





Blacktown Arts Centre – Blacktown Native Institution Project:  Artist camps and corroboree

In partnership with the Museum of Contemporary Art, UrbanGrowth NSW and a number of community organisations in Western Sydney, this project worked towards three outcomes: the creation of a website as a keeping place for personal stories and archival material; development of a master plan for future usage of The Blacktown Native Institution site; and the creation of temporary public artworks on the site.

The project fostered creative activity by local Aboriginal people and encouraged engagement with non-Aboriginal people in the local area. Artists created new dance and music works, which were performed at the site-based events and offsite community meetings. Oral histories were shared through the website and onsite through storytelling sessions and workshops.

Aboriginal artists Darren Bell, Karla Dickens, Steven Russell, Kristine Stewart and Leanne Tobin, along with Aboriginal experts in various fields, led camps, community meetings, workshops, family events, students’ camp and workshops, gatherings and interventions.

Highly Commended

New England Regional Art Museum – Adopt an Artwork

This program enables members of the community to make a tax-deductible donation to the gallery to sponsor the conservation treatment of a specific artwork in the collection by International Conservation Services. Since the program was launched it has raised over $160,000 towards the treatment of 100 paintings, prints, drawings and watercolours. This has included ‘dollar for dollar’ grants from Creative Partnerships Australia and the Government’s Stronger Communities Fund.

The program has been driven by increasing the financial sustainability of the Museum by underwriting the potential costs of conservation treatment of a number of works in the collection. The level of community support and participation in the program has also increased the Museum’s donor base, generated interest in conservation issues surrounding the collection and created opportunities to bring new partners into the program.

The program of activities included a three day residency by two conservators, a public lecture on conservation and morning tea collection visit for donors.




Saumarez Homestead, Armidale Folk Museum, The History House, McCrossin’s Mill, UNE Museums and Tamworth Powerstation Museum – Hidden Treasures:  Capturing an Object

Six small museums in the New England North West were chosen to be part of this project in collaboration with Arts North West and ABC Open. Museum volunteers participated in workshops covering scriptwriting, voiceover, photography, lighting and editing. The final product were a series of short videos capturing the story behind special objects in the museum collections.  Stories were based on new research conducted by the participants.

The project provided volunteers with the skills to develop an online presence for their collections with the basic equipment available to them. Many of the volunteers had little to no experience with digital technology. Acquired skills were then transferable to other museum volunteers.

The partnership provided a networking opportunity for these museums, and helped raise their profile in the region.

Highly Commended

Tamworth Powerstation Museum – City of Light, Powerstation Museum website

The Museum’s new website has been designed to be user friendly and easy to navigate. It includes a range of information about the museum, documents Tamworth’s history as the First City of Light, and has an online catalogue of the 9,500 objects from the collection. This is the first time that the Museum’s collection has ever been accessible and searchable on-line.

There are now both physical and virtual audiences for the Museum. The relaunch of the website and social media engagement currently used by the Museum, provide rich meta-data that enables an understanding of the virtual audiences.

Both the website and the on-site interpretative panels at the museum, which include interactive QR codes, allow greater access to the museum’s collection. The website has engaged new audiences and attendance at the museum is now on the rise.




Lake Macquarie City Art GalleryLore & Order

In consultation with the Aboriginal Reference Group this exhibition explored the complex history shared by Aboriginal people, Christian missionaries and colonial lawmakers. Focusing on one of the first missions in the area, the exhibition narrative extended to mission life and included archival materials, contemporary art and local stories from Aboriginal Elders forced to live under the Aborigines Protection Act and Board in NSW.

The project included a large scale community-made art work, engaging both Aboriginal and non-Aboriginal students. Over 200 people participated. This overwhelming response indicated great community support and allowed participants the opportunity to learn about mission life.

The exhibition was accompanied by a number of public programs including guided tours, an exhibition catalogue, practical art workshops for children, teachers’ professional development day and an opening forum/barbeque. A Family Exhibition Activity Sheet was also developed to encourage parents/carers to explore the exhibition with their children, discussing artworks and answering questions.

Highly Commended

Artspace – Volume 2015 | Another Art Book Fair

This inaugural program was established to activate a wider local community engagement and to generate exposure to new audiences. Through dynamic and inclusive programming focused on connecting with local outreach, refugee, youth and crisis centres the program expanded audiences beyond traditional gallery visitors.

The Fair included an expansive and dynamic public program, featuring over 60 activities which actively encouraged a high level of audience participation and interaction, from the BOOK MACHINE project which saw 360 members of the public paired with UNSW Art & Design students creating their own publication, through to the numerous artist workshops, talks, film screenings and impromptu performances and interventions. All programs were free of charge and were specifically designed to activate a wider local community engagement and to generate exposure to new audiences.

Highly Commended

Australian Centre for Photography – School Selfie

In partnership with SBS, students from four NSW high schools documented their school’s identity in photographic workshops exploring and educating students on the technical aspects of photography. An online exhibition was created to display their work and a selection of images was exhibited at the Centre alongside documentary works from each school by photographer Marco Bok.

The 85 participants produced and uploaded 456 images to Instagram using the hashtag #sbsschoolselfie. The use of mobile devices to document and share student’s school experiences ensured expensive and complex camera equipment was not a barrier to participation.

The exhibition was accompanied by an online resource that schools across the country could access via the new online learning hub, SBS Learn. The SBS partnership ensures the project has been able to reach a national audience.

The project’s focus on school and self has increased local pride and offered students an insight into careers in the arts.

Highly Commended

Parramatta Artists StudiosAdorned

Led by artist Liam Benson, a community of culturally diverse women from Western Sydney engaged in creative workshops to develop collaborative artworks. Participants created headdresses and wearables, reflecting and celebrating their personal stories of identity and culture.

The artists were photographed wearing their work. An exhibition of the photographic portraits and an accompanying film featuring the women’s stories, premiered at the 2015 Parramasala festival. Participants used their creative skills to present public workshops during the festival. The creative public workshops utilised the skills of the women to connect with audiences through making. This was part of wider range of public programs.

This project provides a friendly, safe and accessible creative environment for women of all ages and culturally diverse backgrounds. Partnering with the Community Migrant Resource Centre and employing their Community Support Workers and translators for the workshops, ensured the project successfully connected with culturally diverse women in a thoughtful and appropriate way.




Carriageworks – Solid Ground

In partnership with Blacktown Arts Centre this project develops pathways for young Aboriginal Australians into arts education and employment. The program was developed in response to the high-levels of unemployment and disconnection from the education system experienced by young Aboriginal people across Redfern and Western Sydney.

The project’s success lies in the strength of the collaborations and the unique opportunities it provides to Aboriginal young people. Each of the partners is committed to delivering the program over an extended period to ensure its reach and impact and dedicated full-time Aboriginal staff ensure the participants are supported.

The program is industry led and responds to an identified need, it is direct, culturally relevant and has capacity for long-term success. Each participant has access to opportunities that support their aspirations and skills and will build ongoing connections and networks with the sector.

Highly Commended

Australian National Maritime Museum – The Voyage Game

An emerging area in contemporary educational practice are digital games, which have an enormous impact on the lives of children. The use of games-based pedagogies via online and mobile internet-based technologies is seen as providing much potential for innovative, effective and accessible contemporary teaching and learning. Games have also been identified as one of key trends for museum education in the future.

This game places players aboard a convict vessel transporting human cargo from Britain to Van Diemen’s Land. The player is charged with delivering convicts to the colony in the shortest time with minimum loss of life to make money and further your position.

Full of humour, with a strong educational base, the game can be played individually or in groups and is available free through the museum’s website. It is based on 10,000 historical records and has strong Australian Curriculum links.



Peter Kierath
Narromine Aviation Museum

Peter Kierath has been a committee member, including several years as chairman, of the Narromine Aviation Museum Inc. since its inception in 1998. Through his interest in local history he has become an authority on the aviation story of the town of Narromine.

In 2013 he was appointed project manager for the fundraising, design, construction, fitout and displays for a new wing extension. Keirath spearheaded the project five years earlier after recognising the potential for integrating a number of historic aircraft into the museum.


Special Award

George and Ron Adams, Directors and Co-founders of MOP Projects – Outstanding Contribution to NSW Artist Run Initiatives

George and Ron Adams, Directors and Co-founders of the artist run gallery MOP Projects were recognised with a special award for their Outstanding Contribution to NSW Artist Run Initiatives.

MOP Projects opened in May 2003 at a modest space housed within an industrial building in Redfern. Co-founded by George Adams, Ron Adams and Billy Gruner, MOP was established as a committee led artist-run-initiative charged with fostering experimentation for emerging and mid-career visual artists.

Many of Australia’s now leading visual artists cut their teeth in the earlier days of their careers with shows at MOP and satellite exhibitions with partnering galleries and institutions including UTS Gallery, Hazelhurst Regional Gallery & Arts Centre, Western Plains Cultural Centre, Firstdraft and Grace Cossington Smith Gallery.

George and Ron have been unfailing champions and nurturers of artists, and under their direction, MOP’s mentoring has extended beyond artistic creation, by providing curatorial and professional advice to a number of emerging and mid-career artists.

Due to the commitment of George and Ron, MOP Projects has made a significant impact on the Sydney emerging art community over the past 14 years.

After more than 400 exhibitions that have supported some 800 artists, MOP Projects will cease operating in its current incarnation as an artist run gallery at the end of this year. Its commercial cousin, Galerie pompom will absorb the space occupied by MOP from 2017, signalling a new era for this highly-regarded fixture in the Sydney art world.