Hazelhurst Arts Centre reveals prizewinners

Judges of the Hazelhurst Art on Paper Award 2023 have taken unprecedented steps to acknowledge the extraordinary finalists.

Words: Erin Irwin

The winners of this year’s Hazelhurst Art on Paper Award, hosted by the Hazelhurst Arts Centre, Sydney, have been revealed as David Lawrey and Jaki Middleton for their work Eternal Return. The prize seeks to promote artists whose practice incorporates art on paper in its many plethora of forms. Selected from 82 finalists, the duo’s paper-based sculpture blew judge Deborah Kelly away.

“My criteria was I wanted works that thought about paper itself as a medium that didn’t just use it as a vehicle, but that really engaged with the material, the stuff of paper, and thought about its weight in culture and its use”, said Kelly. In the case of Lawrey and Middleton’s work, it engaged with the endless cycle of consumption and waste that defines current models of production. Eternal Return is comprised of stacks of cardboard boxes that reveal an infinite interior world, populated with a seemingly boundless room of unmarked boxes circulating a factory.

Lawrey and Middleton were not the only artists recognised for the standard of their work. The Young & Early Career Artist Award was conferred on Jenna Lee’s Grass tree – growing together, and the Local Artist Award was given to Christopher Lawrie for WHITE HISTORY (‘An introduction to Australian History’ by A. G. L. Shaw and H. D. Nicolson). “The three works that I chose were so outstanding”, effused Kelly, “in their attention to this stuff, to the weight of the stuff in culture and in history”.

However, the prize also had an unexpected twist up its sleeve: with the quality of every finalist’s work being deemed extraordinarily high, the decision was made to award each with a Highly Commended award.

“It’s so exciting to see such a breadth of artistic creativity on show”, said Sutherland Shire Council Mayor Councillor Carmelo Pesce, continuing by stating that “it speaks volumes of the significance of this award and the role Hazelhurst plays in supporting not only artists, but also innovation in the arts”.

A final prize was also given to Oliver Fontany for Oli at Lane Cove River 1, with the Preparator’s Residency Award chosen by the installation crew, bagging Fontany a four-week residency with the gallery.

The People’s Choice Award is still up for grabs, with a $1,000 to go to the work with the highest amount of votes from visitors. To cast your vote and see the works of all 82 finalists, head to the Hazelhurst Arts Centre, where the prize will be on show until 12 November.

This article was posted 24 September 2023.

Image: David Lawrey & Jaki Middleton, Eternal Return, 2023. Sculpture (with kinetic model components). Courtesy: the artists and Hazelhurst Arts Centre, Sydney. 

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