John Fries Award exhibition postponed until 2021

September 18, 2020

The Copyright Agency today announced, in conjunction with UNSW Galleries, that due to the ongoing restrictions surrounding COVID-19, the 2020 John Fries Award winner announcement and exhibition will be postponed until 2021 to ensure a safe and inclusive platform for finalists and audiences. The winner will be announced at the opening event on 13 March 2021 with the exhibition open to the public until 17 April 2021.

The John Fries Award is an annual $10,000 non-acquisitive art prize recognising the talents of early career visual artists. Since being established in 2010, the Award has become highly regarded as a springboard for the next wave of contemporary artists from across Australia and New Zealand.

Copyright Agency CEO Adam Suckling says, “The creative industry has been one of the hardest hit by the pandemic, so it is critical that emerging artists such as those championed by the John Fries Award are provided with a genuine opportunity to exhibit their work. This is why Copyright Agency, in conjunction with UNSW Galleries, has made the difficult decision to delay the announcement and exhibition. We want to ensure a safe space is provided for the finalists to showcase their engaging and experimental work to an audience.

“This decision will be reviewed in early January subject to NSW State Government and UNSW Sydney restrictions, and if the proposed exhibition opening is not viable then an alternative digital public program or event will be executed to ensure the promotion of the artists and their work.”

The 2020 John Fries Award winner will be determined by a panel of guest judges: Miriam Kelly, Award curator 2019–2020; Cherine Fahd, artist and academic; Jaklyn Babington, inaugural Senior Curator of Contemporary Art Practice at the National Gallery of Australia; Stephen Gilchrist, Associate Lecturer of Indigenous Art at the University of Sydney; and Kath Fries, artist, former Viscopy board member, Chair of the John Fries Award committee and daughter of the late John Fries.

This year’s finalists are:

  • Darcey Bella Arnold, Melbourne, Vic – painting
  • Daniel Jenatsch, Melbourne, Vic – sound, video, installation
  • Sara Morawetz, Sydney, NSW/New York, USA – performance, video, installation
  • Ryan Presley, Brisbane, Qld – painting, drawing, performance
  • JD Reforma, Sydney, NSW – video, installation
  • Melanie Jame Wolf, Melbourne, Vic/Berlin, Germany – performance, sound, video, installation
  • Shevaun Wright, Melbourne, Vic/Los Angeles, USA – installation

The Fries family established the award in 2010 in memory of former Viscopy director and honorary treasurer John Fries, who made a remarkable contribution to the life and success of the organisation.

Exhibition details

The 2020 John Fries Award will be exhibited from 13 March to 17 April 2021 at UNSW Galleries, located within the UNSW Art & Design campus in Paddington. The exhibition is free of charge and open to the public. For more information visit

Media enquiries

Jane Morey | morey media | m: 0416 097 678 | e:

Ella Harris | morey media | m: 0403 090 898 | e:

About Copyright Agency

The not-for-profit Copyright Agency, which merged with Viscopy on 30 November 2017, connects users and creators of content, providing licences for the use of copyright material such as text, images, art and survey plans. We manage the educational and government licences for the use of text and images, as well as the Resale Royalty Scheme for artists (by Government appointment). Our members include writers, artists, surveyors and publishers. Membership is free.

About the John Fries Award

Entry to this annual award is open to artists of all ages and disciplines who identify as early career artists and are citizens or residents of Australia or New Zealand. Artists are required to submit a portfolio of five works created over the past three years which demonstrate a current commitment to developing a professional artistic practice.

The award winner receives $10,000 and the award is non-acquisitive. Previous winners include Justine Youssef, Akil Ahamat, Kuba Dorabialski, Eric Demetriou, Ben Ward, Bridie Lunney, Jess Olivieri and Hayley Forward, Jacob Leary, Sanne Mestrom and Hannah Bertram. Previous curators have included Consuelo Cavaniglia, Oliver Watts, Sebastian Goldspink, Venita Poblocki and Andrew Leslie.

Tags: , ,