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MGNSW announces IMAGinE Award Winners

Imagine Art Awards Winners & Highly Commended 2021, Museums & Galleries of NSW, December 2021

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The Lock-Up, miyarnuwimanha – Nicole Monks
In miyarnuwimanha, which translates to ‘learning, becoming knowledgeable’, Yamaji Wajarri, Dutch and English artist Nicole Monks explored innate and unconscious interconnectedness to Country. Developed collaboratively with 17 First Nations artists locally and nationally, the exhibition intertwined traditional Yamaji Warjarri and WA arts making practices with contemporary video, performance and installation to consider notions of knowledge transfer, the resilience of the stolen generations and the complexities of living off Country on other mob’s unceded land.

Highly Commended

Fairfield City Museum & Gallery, Here: After
Curated by Tian Zhang, Here: After presented radical and fantastical visions for the future. Focusing on Fairfield and Western Sydney, exhibiting artists envisioned local and personal futures: Cabramatta’s main street transformed into a solar highway, an avatar wading through the Parramatta River reflecting on environmental sovereignty and an Elder speaking from a First Nations-led utopia. Unlike harsh, dystopian and alienating future narratives often created, Here: After presented a world worth living in.

Pari, Sports Show
Sports Show 
was an exhibition and series of participatory public programs, which examined the way sport intersects with, amplifies and mirrors individual and social life. It featured both commissioned and existing works by emerging and established artists from Western Sydney, Australia and the UK. The artists drew on sport as a way to tell stories about what it means to be human and to explore history, culture, violence, politics, mental health, community and the pandemic.

Shoalhaven Regional Gallery, the TERRA within
the TERRA within was a major exhibition exploring invasion, resilience and survival of First Nations people in relation to the 250th Anniversary of James Cook’s charting of the East Coast of Australia. The exhibition brings together works from over 30 Indigenous artists from across Australia, with a particular focus on South Coast voices. Gamilaraay curator Warwick Keen worked closedly with Aboriginal community representatives to explore a multitute of experiences and perspectives on this significant anniversary.



Newcastle Art Gallery, WARWAR: The Art of Torres Strait
This landmark exhibition, developed in collaboration with artist and curator Brian Robinson, featured over 130 works of art that showcased the evolution of Torres Strait Islander tradition and society. Presenting artworks from the 19th Century to the contemporary art traditions of today, the show included large scale prints, sculptures, new media and significant cultural artefacts, allowing the local Newcastle born Torres Strait Islander community to experience their own culture through works of art created by their ancestors.

Highly Commended

Leo Kelly Blacktown Arts, Terra inFirma
Terra inFirma 
was a series of exhibitions, performances and engagement programs made in response to the 250th anniversary of James Cook’s arrival in Australia and the ongoing impacts of colonisation on Dharug Peoples and communities in Blacktown. The show explored sovereignty, the Black Lives Matter movement, the destruction of sacred sites and Garungul Ngurra (Strong Country). From its inception, Terra inFirma established a Dharug roundtable of 10 Elders, cultural consultants and knowledge-holders to guide the exhibition and acknowledge the continuous connections of Dharug Peoples to the Sydney region, culture and Country.

UNSW Galleries, Friendship as a Way of Life
Friendship as a Way of Life 
was a landmark exhibition that brought together more than 30 artists and commentators to explore queer kinship and forms of being together. The exhibition centred around three themes offering perspectives on LGBTQI+ partnerships, visibility, sex, intimacy and knowledge: ‘public relations’, ‘living arrangements’ and ‘intergenerational kinship’. Presented at UNSW Galleries and online in a multifaceted public program, the project foregrounds the ways LGBTQI+ communities create alternative networks of support through various creative



The Museum of Contemporary Art Australia, Richard Bell: You Can Go Now
Richard Bell: You Can Go Now 
was the largest solo exhibition by artist and activist, Richard Bell, bringing together over 30 years of his practice. The focus was not only on Bell’s notorious persona, but on the human behind the practice, revealing a personal history that reflects the post-colonial Australian narrative of displacement, racism and the erasure of First Nations histories. The exhibition, online platforms, publication, Embassy conversations and Digital Aboriginal Embassy – a first of its kind sovereign digital space sought to actively engage wide-ranging audiences in important and timely conversations.

Highly Commended

Campbelltown Arts Centre, Space YZ
Space YZ 
took inspiration from the visual arts legacy of Western Sydney University to advocate for better access to art education in Western Sydney and Australia. From the first graduating class in 1986 to the final cohort in 2009, WSU was a pioneering hub for experimentation and risk-taking across a variety of media. Staged 12 years since the closure of WSU’s art school, Space YZ presented significant early works by 88 Visual Arts and Electronic Arts alumni, celebrating its legacy and the unique artistic identities it forged.

Casula Powerhouse Arts Centre, Bittersweet
 was the outcome of a partnership between Casula Powerhouse Arts Centre and emerging curator Shivanjani Lal. Bittersweet exhibited 10 contemporary artists, including emerging and mid-career Indigenous Fijian and Indo Fijian artists from Australia, NZ and the UK. It was a ‘talanoa’: a laying down of artworks and stories; some sweet, and some bitter. The artworks are representative of new and old ideas of Fiji and the ways they have been shared and remade. The exhibition speaks to the experiences of artists living in diaspora, as well as the connection to their island home, Fiji.



Jervis Bay Maritime Museum, Munggura-Nggul
The Jervis Bay Maritime Museum’s new permanent exhibition, Mungurra-Nggul, tells the story of Jervis Bay’s past and present. The exhibition explores place and cultural connection through objects and photographs from the museum’s collection, including Jervis Bay’s boat building and tourism heritage, as well as the history of the Bay’s Indigenous peoples who lived in the area for generations. Collaboration with the Jerrinja and Wreck Bay Aboriginal communities ensured stories were told through First Nations voices and included local Dhurga language titles for the first time in the museum.

Highly Commended

Moruya Museum, Illuminated: The Art of Children’s Book Illustration
This virtual exhibition was hosted on the Moruya District Historical Society’s website, celebrating the importance of illustration in the museum’s significant collection of children’s books. Highlights include woodcuts in an 1853 edition of Daniel Defoe’s The Adventures of Robin Crusoe, prints of pre-Raphaelite paintings The Quiver, 1899, chromolithographs Sweet Song of Old, 1915 and illustrations from the much-loved Winne The Pooh series, dating from 1925.



Fairfield City Museum & Gallery, Travelling Sounds: Music & Migration in Western Sydney
Travelling Sounds 
was a multidisciplinary project exploring the historic and contemporary connections between music and migration in Western Sydney. Amplifying the voices of young artists with migrant backgrounds, the exhibition and public programs celebrated local talent, offering a stage for experimentation and creativity. The exhibition showcased collection items, community loans and newly commissioned works. Travelling Sounds convincingly showed the often ignored influence of Sydney’s fringe suburbs in shaping Australia’s musical landscape.

Highly Commended

Hawkesbury Regional Museum, Uncovered
explored the archaeological discoveries made during the construction of the New Windsor Bridge in Dyarubbin (the Hawkesbury River), Thompson Square and surrounds. Over 30,000 artefacts were uncovered during archaeological excavations, relating to more than 30,000 years of human history. The objects ranged from Aboriginal artefacts, including tools for hunting and fishing, to maritime objects and everyday items of colonial life, such as china and glass bottles, coins, buttons and jewellery.



The Australian Museum, Unsettled
Designed as a right of reply to the 250th anniversary in 2020 of James Cook’s East Coast voyage, Unsettled amplified First Nations voices and promoted truth-telling about Australia’s foundation history and the ongoing legacy of colonisation. The exhibition is ground-breaking through its First Nations-led curation, presenting a rigorously researched, nuanced narrative with a range of objects, images and experiences. Informed by an extensive community consultation process involving Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples from across Australia, Unsettled is defined by its prioritisation of First Nations agency in every stage of the project.

Highly Commended

Chau Chak Wing, Gululu dhuwala djalkiri
Gululu dhuwala djalkiri e
xhibited 350 works from the University of Sydney’s collections within a Yolnu philosophical framework. The exhibition explained concepts of djalkiri (ancestral footsteps) and Yolnu Rom (Law) through clan knowledge and copyright in a celebration of relationships, including those with the University from the 1920s. Gululu dhuwala djalkiri was curated by six senior Yolnu men from Milingimbi, Yirrkala and the Ramingining communities, alongside two curators to exhibit the purposes of Yolnu ways of knowing and emphasise how paintings and sculptures embody Yolnu spiritual, philosophical and legal foundations.



The Lock-Up, How to make a parrot
This workshop coincided with Rosie Deacon’s exhibition HOW DO I KNOW MY PARROT IS HAPPY. The intention behind the virtual workshop was to present an imaginative activity that could connect with audiences who were unable to visit the space due to Covid-19 restrictions or accessibility reasons. Workshop attendees made their own creatures to add to Deacon’s aviary and over 400 parrots were created during the exhibition by visitors of all ages and abilities.

Highly Commended

Moree Plains Museum, Love and Lace, Long Ago
Inspired by century-old traditions, Love and Lace, Long Ago celebrated 100 brides from 100 years with an exhibition of multi-cultural wedding finery and storytelling. The exhibition, opening gala parade and ‘wedding breakfast’ were designed to engage the community, lifting the spirits of a drought-weary town. The exhibition raised awareness of the fledgling Moree Plains Museum, supporting Moree & District Historical Society’s vision to create a museum that will continue to engage and support the local community.

Pari, P2P
was a program of virtual sharing between Pari, Gudskul Ekosistem (Indonesia), The White Pube (UK) and Australian participants. The program focused on models for collaboration and criticality within and beyond the arts, and included two online workshops on collective and critical practice alongside a series of virtual studio visits. P2P was designed to foster critical writing and collective practice while developing international relationships at a time when travel is not possible.

Tamworth Astronomy and Science Centre & Tamworth Regional Museum, Sky Canvas
Sky Canvas 
was an astrophotography exhibition designed to activate the newly built Tamworth Regional Astronomy and Science Centre. The accompanying public programming provided employment, professional development and collaboration opportunities for remote and regional artists, astronomers, and members of the Indigenous community. It included astrophotography demonstrations, night sky tours by Elders, artist-led plein air workshops, Indigenous knowledge sharing sessions, outdoor projections and artist mentorships.



UNSW Galleries, Forms of Being Together
Forms of Being Together 
was an online engagement program that explored queer kinship from different social and historical perspectives, engaging audiences and supporting practitioners during the Covid-19 pandemic. Accompanying a physical exhibition, the program sought to create connection and community through digital programming. Over seven months, the program encompassed 25 online initiatives including a DJ set, artists in-conversations, illustrated talks, essays, video content and workshops, live-streamed and shared via Teams Live, Instagram, YouTube, Vimeo, MixCloud, EDM and the UNSW Galleries website.

Highly Commended

Bathurst Regional Art Gallery, Banha (Truly) Belong
provided students the opportunity to participate in a mural project that explored place, belonging and identity. Working with Wiradjuri artist Sven, the students identified words, role models and motifs that formed the basis for a mural at the Kelso Community Hub, creating a powerful, positive message for the community. The mural was subsequently transformed into a digital illumination artwork in the BRAG forecourt for Winter Festival and NAIDOC Week celebrations, giving Kelso’s youth voice and visibility in the Bathurst City Centre.

Blue Mountains Cultural Centre, Critical Mass: Community Engagement Programs
Coinciding with an exhibition of the same name, the Critical Mass engagement program expanded on the exhibition’s theme of planetary health with acute local relevance by focusing on bushfire recovery, caring for Country and food security. The free program included artist-led and academic-led conversations, First Nations programming from Dharug and Gundungurra leaders, the launch of a community garden, workshops, collaborative artworks and educational programs. These 20 well attended activities were intended to help strengthen social connectedness and engage in conversations about recovery for the Blue Mountains community.



Chau Chak Wing Museum, Academic Engagement: Object Based Learning Program
Chau Chak Wing Museum’s Academic Engagement Program draws upon a transdisciplinary collection of c.500,000 objects, specimens and artworks, combining Object-Based Learning principles with the expertise of the whole curatorial and collection management team. In its first 6 months, 1,690 objects were used across learning sessions catering to 11,306 participants from humanities, business, mathematics, economics, Indigenous studies, anatomy, biology, creative writing and architecture disciplines. The program is exceeding expectations and running at capacity, meeting a core priority of the museum to ensure all Sydney University staff and students engage meaningfully with the museum’s collections.

Projects with a budget of $10,000 or less


Hambledon Cottage Museum, New Website and Virtual Reality Tour
The Parramatta & District Historical Society developed a website for the Hambledon Cottage Museum, which included a 360° virtual reality tour, in collaboration with Western Sydney University tourism students. The website has improved the appeal of the museum by providing online access to domestic and international visitors, and has significantly enhanced the Society’s ability to promote Hambledon Cottage.

Highly Commended

Grafton Regional Gallery, Get Creative in the Clarence
Get Creative in the Clarence 
was a series of free workshops led by local artists, designed to share skills and support the economic recovery of the arts and cultural sector. The Clarence Valley was hit hard by bushfires, Covid-19 and floods throughout 2019-2020. The project employed 13 creative businesses from the community and created pathways for people to participate in the creative industries, exposing them to the process of art making, and developing relationships with the gallery.

Sydney Living Museums, Go Back to the Past at Vaucluse House: Live Virtual Event
Produced in partnership with the ABC and supported by DART Learning, the Go Back to the Past at Vaucluse House virtual event provided access to the collection and stories of Vaucluse House to over 18,000 students. The project demonstrated the learning team’s resilience in the face of extremely challenging circumstances, and the event drew Sydney Living Museum’s highest number of registrations for a virtual event. The event expanded the reach of the museum at a time when students and teachers were actively seeking quality curriculum linked online experiences and resources.

Projects with a budget of between $10,001 and $100,000


Maitland Regional Art Gallery, Our Place Co-Design Project
Our Place Co-Design Project 
saw First Nations students and architecture students from the University of Newcastle co-design a welcome space for First Nations peoples in the Maitland Regional Art Gallery grounds. The students shared ideas, gathered objects and explored the gallery’s grounds before developing concept plans and maquettes, which incorporated bush tucker, landscaping structures and natural materials. The project drew upon partnerships and networks to authentically engage local communities in creative activities with the aim of establishing feelings of ownership at the gallery for future First Nations audiences. The welcome space will be constructed in December 2021.

Highly Commended

Bankstown Arts Centre, Symbiosis: 2020 Bankstown Biennale
In 2020 Bankstown Arts Centre initiated Symbiosis, its inaugural biennale, as an urgent artist-led response to recent local and global crises. In the wake of bushfires and the Covid-19 pandemic, Symbiosis invited 25 artists to respond to a range of creative investigations designed to actively facilitate individual, collective and civic responsibility for the planet’s sustainability. The artworks offered opportunities for interaction and local engagement, both within Bankstown Arts Centre and its immediate precinct. To date, it is the centre’s most well received exhibition program and strengthened partnerships with local schools, community organisations, the GreenWay and the MCA.

Projects with a budget of $100,00 or greater


Lawrence Rural and River Museum, Lawrence Unlocked
The Lawrence Historical Society constructed a 1930’s style iron-clad shed to use as a new display area for the history of Lawrence. This project was possible due to the enthusiasm and dedication of the museum’s volunteers who fundraised for the project, sourced materials, and worked in all weather to complete the building. The shed’s construction has invigorated the local community and created a lasting attraction for the village which can continue to preserve and exhibit items for the enjoyment, education and enrichment of the community, visitors and future generations.

Imagination Award


Maitland Regional Art Gallery, Celebrating art + architecture + Country
In 2021, Maitland Regional Art Gallery partnered with the University of Newcastle in a collaborative project that involved First Nations students from local schools and architecture students co-designing a new space for MRAG’s grounds. The gallery proposes to celebrate this new space, which will be constructed in December of 2021, with a community event. Led by First Nations students, the event will incorporate artist talks, creative activities, Indigenous plantings and music in a celebration of art, architecture and Country. MRAG believes this celebration will mark an important cultural and community achievement: the addition of an inclusive, welcoming cultural space for First Nations artists, educators and audiences visiting the gallery in the future.

The ACHAA award for Excellence by an Aboriginal Curator


Laura McBride, Unsettled Australian Museum
Laura McBride is a Wailwan and Kooma woman and Director, First Nations at the Australian Museum. McBride’s curatorial vision for Unsettled advocates for First Nations-led and informed approaches to exhibition development, promoting respectful, culturally appropriate and accurate representations of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples in museums. Curated as a ‘right of reply’ to 2020’s 250th anniversary of James Cook’s East Coast voyage, Unsettled is an example of national truth-telling around the role of Cook in contested histories between First Nations and non-Indigenous Australians. Unsettled sees Australia’s oldest public museum give its influential platform to McBride to represent First Nations peoples in response to Australia’s foundational history.

The ACHAA award for Outstanding Lifetime Contribution to NSW Aboriginal Culture, Heritage & Arts

Aunty Euphemia Bostock

Euphemia Augustina Leoda Bostock is a proud Munanjali-Bundjalung woman and respected Elder.

Euphemia’s passion, creativity and cultural expression have long been directed towards the visual arts, working across many mediums including textile, printmaking, design and sculpture.

Together with her brothers, Lester and Gerald, Euphemia was a founding member of Sydney’s Aboriginal Black Theatre in 1972 and in 1987 she was one of the 10 artists who established Boomalli Aboriginal Artists Co-operative, for which she designed the Boomalli logo. The Co-operative’s existence and continued longevity have been an enabler for hundreds of Aboriginal Artists.

Her clothing designs were showcased in Paris at the Au Printemps Department Store exhibition – Australis Down Under. Other exhibitions include the Museum of Sydney’s Bamaradbanga (to make open) in 1999, and Tactility – two centuries of Indigenous textiles and fibre at the National Gallery of Australia (NGA) in 2003. In 1999 a section of Euphemia’s most recognisable work, the Possum Skin design screen print, was reproduced on an Australia Postage Stamp.

Euphemia’s works are held in the collections of the National Gallery of Australia, Powerhouse Museum and the National Museum of Australia. In 2001 Euphemia produced a collaborative Reconciliation Sculpture with artist Jan Shaw for Macquarie University’s Sculpture Garden.

A survey exhibition celebrating the work and life of Euphemia Bostock, entitled Made with Love and curated by Dr Bronwyn Bancroft is currently on display at Boomalli Aboriginal Artists Co-operative in Leichhardt.

Museums & Galleries of NSW Individual Achievement award

Liz Ann Macgregor
As the Director of the Museum of Contemporary Art, Liz Ann Macgregor has transformed the MCA into a thriving public gallery, with artists at its heart.

Liz Ann began her career in the art world as curator – and driver – for the Scottish Arts Council’s travelling gallery. Using a converted bus to take exhibitions to local villages, inner city estates, schools, hospitals and prisons, she discovered her love for introducing new audiences to the work of living artists. After working with the British Council for the Arts, in 1989 she became director of one of the UK’s leading contemporary art galleries, the Ikon Gallery.

In 1999, Liz Ann moved to Sydney to take up the directorship of the Museum of Contemporary Art at a time when the Museum was facing great challenges. She negotiated a sponsorship deal with Telstra in 2000 to introduce free admission and since then attendances have increased dramatically, doubling initially and continuing to climb each year. Funding agreements with the NSW Government and the Australia Council gave the Museum financial stability and encouraged further private sector support.

The 2012 redevelopment of the museum was a crucial part of Liz Ann’s vision of connecting audiences with artists. As well as new galleries for the collection and exhibitions, a series of new commissions puts artists centre stage in the building. The MCA’s new National Centre for Creative Learning and its continued commitment to outreach programs are critical to her concern for future generations. Her passion for bringing artists work into the wider public arena has led her to establish programs not only at Circular Quay but also in Western Sydney and across the state.

Liz Ann has also spearheaded the campaign to develop the MCA’s national and international profile, including a joint acquisition initiative with the Tate Modern, many of the artworks are currently included in the London exhibition, A Year in Art: Australia 1992.

Deborah Ely
Deborah Ely trained as a painter and art historian in the UK before returning to Australia in 1988. She convened the inaugural Experimenta Festival of Film and New Media and was Founder and Director of Melbourne’s seminal Centre for Contemporary Photography. In 1992 Deborah moved to Sydney and took on the role of Director of the Australian Centre for Photography before joining Arts NSW (now Create NSW) as the Visual Arts and Craft Program Manager.

In 2006 Deborah Ely joined Bundanon Trust as CEO, supporting arts practice and engagement through residency, education, exhibition and performance programs. Under Deborah’s leadership the Shoalhaven institution has been elevated to a national site of Indigenous, environmental and art historical significance, and a regional hub for cultural and creative interaction and scientific endeavour.

The Artists in Residence and Learning programs have been expanded to include more than 300 artists annually from across the globe and thousands of school students who participate in unique residential creative learning programs throughout the year.

Deborah’s ambitious vision for Bundanon Trust infrastructure project designed to house the Boyd art collection, and set to transform the cultural tourism of the area attracted significant Government funding. The new development incorporates radical solutions to a changing climate, with a net zero energy target, and will be defendable against fire and flood. will cater to expanded audiences and secure its future as a leading attraction and unique educational facility.

Norman Seligman
During Norman Seligman’s 19 years as the CEO of the Sydney Jewish Museum the institution has seen many changes including a complete rebuilding of its exhibition spaces, major upgrades to a number of exhibitions and the introduction of new collections, the conception of a new Education and Resource Centre and a growth in annual student visitor numbers from 8000 in 2002 to nearly 30,000 in 2019, among other achievements.

Under Norman’s leadership, the museum has become widely seen as a world-class museum of the Holocaust and Human Rights. His ability to handle all the various aspects of the museum, from financial to caring for Holocaust survivors has ensured the high esteem in which the museum is held within the community.

Norman has been at the forefront of projects focused on preserving the voices of the Holocaust survivors as well as the roll-out of regional programmes as well as expanding archives and exhibits.

The ambitious program Dimensions in Testimony which will launch at the end of this year, as part of a collaboration with the Shoah Foundation in Los Angeles, uses high-tech filming methods to capture the stories of 6 Australian Holocaust survivors in three dimensions to allow future generations to have lifelike conversations with them in the museum.

The most recent upgrades to the museum are expected to raise the capacity to allow 20 per cent more students to visit each year, who make up over half of the museum’s 60,000 annual visitors.

Seligman will finish in his role of CEO at the end of 2021 to take up a new role managing and growing the recently formed Sydney Jewish Museum Foundation.