Paula Savage Receives 2023 Melbourne Design Week Award

Artist’s contributions to the FOCUS exhibition recognised.

Words: Erin Irwin

The 2023 edition of Melbourne Design Week has named Mualgal artist Paula Savage as the recipient of this year’s Melbourne Design Week Award, an annual prize of $5,000 presented to an artist who has made an outstanding contribution to the Design Week program. She joins previous recipients including Revival Projects and their work Zero Footprint Repurposing in 2022, Finding Infinity for their exhibition A New Normal in 2021, and Georgia Nowak and Eugene Perepletchikov for Aurum in 2020.

Savage contributed three works to the FOCUS exhibition – a show which showcased the prowess of five Australian female designers – at Melbourne Design Week, titled Dollar Reef, No.2 Reef and No.3 Reef. Her practice combines a range of mediums and approaches, including weaving, tie-dying, carving and jewellery making, in order to bring together cultural traditions and contemporary design.

“There are three reefs off the coast of Lag Mua” says the artist of her works, “the first, and closest, is Dollar Reef. It is the deeper one and most of the food comes from this one. Crayfish, fish, dugong, turtle and clams. The second and third reefs are further out and sit up higher. In the old times we went fishing and collecting in canoes, and carried seafood in baskets. Now we got dinghys and outboards and eskies. These baskets are more about sea life; the coral and sponges under the water.”

Tony Ellwood AM, Director, National Gallery of Victoria, says that ‘Savage’s intricately woven vessels are joyful, innovative and generous. Through them, she shares stories of her home in the Kubin community on Moa Island and the reefs off the coast of Lag Mua. Paula’s work reminds us that contemporary design is at its best when it delights and inspires us to see the world differently.”

This newest accolade has joined a growing list of awards for the artist, who has also won the Cairns Indigenous Art Fair Holding Redlich Innovation Award and the Indigenous Art Centre Alliance Lucille Osborne Emerging Artist Fellowship.

This article was posted 23 May 2023.

Image: Portrait of Paula Savage, winner of the 2023 Melbourne Design Week Award presented by Mercedes-Benz, and their work on display in FOCUS at Melbourne Design Fair 2023 from 18-21 May at Melbourne Convention and Exhibition Centre, part of Melbourne Design Week 2023. Photo: Aaron Francis. Courtesy: the artist and Melbourne Design Week.

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