The 2017 Clyde & Co Australia Art Award – Sydney has gone to Fiona Watson, for her sculpture titled 'Geisha'. Watson was presented the prize at the firm's new Sydney offices on 15 March 2017.
Watson's piece is a bronze lost wax casting, a process which has been around for millennia, and involves turning malleable handmade elements into enduring sculptures.
The judging panel, which was led by Clyde & Co consultant Oscar Shub, chose Watson's piece as the winner because of its exceptional level of its quality.
Shub says: "Judging an exhibition of art works in different media is always very difficult. It is made more difficult when the committee has to decide between a selection of works of the high quality which we had chosen for this exhibition.
"Fiona's work was chosen not only for the exceptional level of its quality, but also for the concept of using an ancient method of bronze casting to create a beautiful form of a Geisha. It approaches a traditional subject matter while creating an innovative work of art."
Watson has recently completed a Bachelor of Fine Art at Sydney’s National Art School, following a career in advertising, but sculpting has been her passion for some time. " I am very tactile and I’ve always enjoyed making things with my hands. Making sculptures allows for a visual engagement that is constantly changing, which is not possible with two-dimensional art forms, such as painting," she says. "With sculpture, one can move around a work in space, and perspectives are in constant flux according to one’s own position. "
Watson says of winning the Clyde & Co 2017 Art Award: "The art award Clyde & Co have created for the emerging artist should be applauded. I believe a solid arts education is essential for any aspiring artist and it is wonderful to have a company like Clyde & Co really get behind emerging artists from the universities world-wide. I would encourage other corporations/businesses to back the arts in this manner. The work is fresh and captivating and an inspiration to be around.
"I believe the world is a better place where art and commerce coexist; this can and should be symbiotic rather than mutually exclusive. On a human level, art can provide a respite from the rigours of the world of commerce, and the commercial world can support the arts to flourish. I had a very intense career in advertising and for me it was a respite to throw myself into the process of casting bronze."
Other winners on the night included Jake Parkinson, who took home the Staff Choice Award and Hanna Hetherington who was awarded Highly Commended by the judging panel for her piece 'Bittersweet'.