Waup wins VCA art prize

Waup wins VCA art prize
Rhonda Dredge

The opening of the Paul Selzer Exhibition and Prize was the place to be on the last, chilly Thursday evening in June.

The end of the financial year was looming, and alumni of the Victorian College of the Arts (VCA) were gathering. 

It was difficult to talk to the winner of the prize because she was surrounded by friends. 

“She’s gorgeous. She works so hard. We love her,” said one of the fans present at the joyous opening. 

Lisa Waup was the recipient of the $25,000 prize for her looping ink screen prints on cotton rag paper and sandbags.

“Make sure you take a picture of the printing,” Waup said, pointing out the glass bead ink. “It’s reflective.”

The prize is an example of the care the VCA shows to its alumni and the skill of Fiona and Sidney Myer Gallery when it comes to narrative.

While most alumni around the country were receiving begging emails from their universities for donations in the lead-up to the end of the financial year, the VCA was giving money away to support artists.

The Paul Selzer Exhibition honours the memory of artist and entrepreneur Paul Selzer and was made possible thanks to the generosity of the Selzer family. The fellowship funds new commissions by contemporary artists who are alumni of the VCA.

Other recipients were Trent Crawford for his photographs that paid homage to two former VCA staff members, painter Kate Daw and print-maker Bea Maddock, Nusra Latif Qureshi for her digital prints on fabric and Kay Abude for her striking installation Smoko Room.

The exhibition, from an artistic point of view, demonstrated the difference between wall-based static pieces and different styles of spatial work.

Waup seemed to merge with her scrolls Mother/County while the photographer and his prints were quite distinct in Crawford’s Learning to Waltz in the 21st Century.

Crawford’s synthesising impulse came out in the selection of images from Daw’s PhD thesis and the superimposition of grids representing the blinds on the room Maddock once occupied at the VCA. •

“Daw was a big influence,” he said. “After her passing I went on a deep internal journey looking at art and historical linkages.”

The references depicted in his photographs include Manet, Cindy Sherman, Tracy Emin and John Meade’s self-portrait as Mary Madonna.

Kay Abude who finished her degree in 2010, rose to the challenge of examining how she was making a living and was “re-enacting what work looks like” in the installation and performance piece Smoko Room.

Abude began working on the wharf as a stevedore to support her art practice and she brought in her work colleagues to re-enact the smoko room.

All that was left after their knock-off time was finished were some empty pizza boxes on a long table and the TV set on footy replay. 

Paul Selzer Exhibition and Prize 2023, Fiona and Sidney Myer Gallery, until July 22.

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