Judges announced for the John Fries Award 2016

February 1, 2016

Some of the most highly-regarded professionals in the contemporary arts industry have today been announced as judges for the 7th annual John Fries Award.

For the second consecutive year, Sydney-based artist, academic Oliver Watts will curate the 2016 John Fries Award Finalist Exhibition.

He will be joined on the judging panel by Curator of Exhibitions and Australian Projects at the Australian Centre for Photography, Mark Feary, contemporary Aboriginal artist Tony Albert, and multi-disciplinary artist Bianca Hester. Long-term judge and daughter of the late John FriesKath Fries will also continue on the panel for 2016.

Curator Oliver Watts says this year’s selection of judges represents a strong blend of creative and professional expertise, with a taste for art that pushes the boundaries.

“All of this year’s judges have produced work that strives to engage with the world and to make a difference.

“Both Bianca and Tony’s work is characterised by questioning expectations and social mores. They both use their work to register dissent and to point towards more utopian futures. Their work is not dryly political but strongly encourages the community to look again and to work together to refashion our society.

“Mark, as a curator, has also found the more eccentric and the magical in his exhibitions; he is a storyteller at heart and his exhibitions are always provocative and surprising,” says Watts.

“Art has the capacity to the push the bounds of society, not necessarily just to critique it but to show new possibilities and directions. I am hoping this year we celebrate the unconventional, the unhinged, and the outré. It is often this sort of work that is really freeing.

“I can’t wait to see what direction the judging panel pushes the Award in this year,” he says.

The judging panel will have the difficult task off assessing hundreds of submissions from Australia and New Zealand to decide on the top finalists, whose works will feature in an exhibition from 19 August – 1 October at UNSW Galleries – the award’s presenting partner for the third year running. Finalists will be announced on 26 March and will then develop their work for the exhibition. The winner will be awarded $10,000.

The award’s prize money has been generously donated by the Fries family in memory of former Viscopy director and honorary treasurer, John Fries, who made a remarkable contribution to the life and success of Viscopy.