Sebastian Henry-Jones Selects Churchie Finalists

Preeminent emerging art prize to show at IMA.

Words: Erin Irwin

The churchie emerging art prize, established in 1987 at the Anglican Church Grammar School, looks to present the best of Australia’s early-career artists. Encompassing all visual mediums, the prize has seen many past participants become big names on the national art scene. Since 2019 the churchie has been hosted by the Institute of Modern Art in Brisbane.

The finalists of the 2023 churchie have been selected by Sebastian Henry-Jones, curator at West Space, Melbourne, and the winner will be chosen by judge Tara McDowell, Director of Curatorial Practice and Associate Professor at Monash University in Melbourne.

“I’m very excited to be working with this group of talented artists—many of whom I’ve been a fan of for some time”, says Henry-Jones, “the churchie is a rare opportunity to be in conversation with one’s peers, surveying the diverse work being made by early-career artists across the continent today.”

The thirteen finalists include Alrey Batol, Amanda Bennetts, Dylan Bolger, Luke Brennan, Matthew Brown, Raf McDonald, Corben Mudjandi, Melody Paloma, Roberta Joy Rich, Joel Spring, Jess Tan, Debbie Taylor-Worley, and Ash Tower.

The artists have drawn from a diverse range of backgrounds and experiences to produce their submissions, with Bennetts highlighting issues surrounding disability, Midjandi aiming to capture Country, and Rich exploring her African Cape identity. Their practices are highly varied, including Spring’s work as an ‘anti-disciplinary’ artist, Tan’s experiments with materials, and Tower’s contemplations of atomic technologies.

The prize is non-acquisitive, but offers $15,000 in winnings alongside one $5,000 and two $1,000 special commendation prizes. Visitors can also vote for their favourite work, electing the winner of the $3,000 People’s Choice Award.

The winner will be announced on Friday 2 June, with all finalist works on view at IMA from Saturday 20 May until Saturday 19 August.

This article was posted 23 May 2023.

Image: Roberta Joy Rich, Auntie’s Curtain, 2022. In collaboration with Spacecraft Studios and Zhenya Alvaranga, blk banaana, Claris Ncube, Nita Okoko, Robyn Rich, Tab Sejoe, Phillipa Smith, Vikki Steeneveld & Naomi Velaphi). Courtesy: the artist and the churchie emerging art prize.

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