Joint winners announced for Ellen José Art Award

Moorina Bonini and Elham Eshraghian-Haakansson share $15,000 award for young female artists.

Words: Charlotte Middleton

Out of a diverse and competitive field of finalists, Moorina Bonini (Yorta Yorta/Wurundjeri/Italian) and Elham Eshraghian-Haakansson (Iranian-Australian Bahá’í) have been announced as joint winners in the 2022 Ellen José Art Award for young women.

On view at Bayside Gallery, Brighton, Victoria, the triennial Ellen José Art Award is a $15,000 non-acquisitive prize designed to support female artists aged 18–35 in the early stages of their career.

The award was this year judged by Max Delany, Artistic Director & CEO, Australian Centre for Contemporary Art (ACCA) and Professor Marcia Langton AM, Associate Provost at the University of Melbourne.

Selecting Bonini for her 2021 video work Gowidja (After), and Eshragian-Haakansson’s audio-visual installation titled edges of place (2022), the judges commented:

“We have elected to share the award amongst two artists, in recognition of two outstanding and especially sophisticated works. We found it difficult to elevate one above the other, for they both have undeniable power and complexity, and historical and emotional gravitas, and show great promise from two young artists in the early stages in their career.”

While Bonini’s video work speaks to the theft and vandalism of Aboriginal culture and Country and dislocation of community from traditional ways of life, Eshragian-Haakansson’s installation translates the violence of fundamentalism, the experience of homelessness, and the complexities of geography and history into rich emotional landscapes.

“As was the case in the work of Ellen José, both artists combine rich poetry with powerful politics, in both form and content,” said the judges. “Both works engage archival and public histories which they movingly entwine with their own family histories and personal narratives.”

Ellen José (1951-2017) was a Torres Strait Elder, pioneer in Australia’s urban Indigenous art movement, a radical activist, and social justice campaigner, and the award is facilitated through a partnership between the Ellen José Memorial Foundation and Bayside City Council.

At Bayside Gallery, the two winning works are displayed alongside those of other finalists Hannah Gartside (VIC), Nadia Hernández (NSW/VIC), Annika Romeyn (ACT), and Emma Singer (SA).

The Ellen José Art Award for young women remains on view at Bayside Gallery, Brighton, Victoria until 28 August 2022. Entry is free and walk-ins are welcome.

This article was posted 27 July 2022.

Main image: ElhamEshragian-Haakansson, edges of place, 2022. 

Featured thumbnail image: Moorina Bonini, Gowidja (After), 2021.

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