Images (L to R): Ildy Izso, Bush Fire, 2021, reused or up-cycled materials; Luna Mrozik Gawler, Diplopic lens, 2021, fabric and cardboard; Ariella Friend, Blue Ginger zoomed in, 2021, recycled timber, acrylic paint, PVC glue.

Northern Beaches Council has announced the new dates for the inaugural exhibition of the Environmental Art and Design Prize, which was delayed due to the COVID-19 lockdown in NSW. The exhibition of the 228 finalist works will be presented across three arts venues on the Northern Beaches from 12 November – 12 December 2021. Selected from 826 entries, the finalists will be reviewed by the judging panel comprised of internationally renowned artist Euan Macleod; artist, designer and curator Liane Rossler; and CEO and Artistic Director of the Australian Design Centre, Lisa Cahill.

The Prize celebrates contemporary arts practices that are socially engaged, environmentally aware and seek to enrich and contribute to positive change through creative practice. The finalist works have been selected across the categories of Wearable Design, Functional Design, Digital, Works on Paper and Photography, Ceramics and Small Sculpture, Painting, Interdisciplinary Collaboration, and a separate youth category for creatives aged 7 – 18 years old.

At Manly Art Gallery & Museum, works engaged with contemporary art practice will be displayed, while wearable and functional design will be on show at Curl Curl Creative Space and youth finalists will be shown at Mona Vale Pop Up Gallery.Northern Beaches Mayor Michael Regan said: “We’re thrilled to finally be able to display these exceptional works for the inaugural edition of the Environmental Art and Design Prize. It’s inspiring to see how engaged Australian artists and designers are with the current environmental issues impacting our natural world and their ability to communicate this through their work. Now more than ever, after the last nearly four months in lockdown, we see the value of nature and the need to protect it”

 Liane Rossler said: “I was so impressed by the quality of the works and ingenuity. We have a selection of works that are thoughtful and reflect on important issues we all must face.”

 Highlights across the categories include:

  • Wearable Design: Finalist works in this category include Marina DeBris’Black Widow, made from found manmade waste from the beaches and streets of Sydney, and is an expression of grief for the estimated three billion animals killed or displaced by the bushfires of the Black Summer of 2019-20; Ruth Downes’ face masks repurposed as a collar to reflect on the rise of single use products during the past year due to COVID-19; Bethany Cordwell’s Waste Age that takes recycled materials including IKEA bags and jumping castle tubing to highlight the excessive waste and rapid consumerism within the current fashion industry; and Ivy Whiteman’s Why the sea is boiling hot channeling the spirit of joy and optimism present in the Northern Beaches’ 80s surf culture for a line of clothing made from recycled materials and dyed with organic matter including food waste and plants.


  • Functional Design: Creative approaches and materials in this category comprise things we use in our everyday life, including Matthew Harkness’sBioplastic Waste Dustpan & Brush, a dustpan and brush created by a 3D printer; Marta Figueiredo’s Stardust Lamp made from recycled resin in the designer’s studio, which seeks to encourage other designers to reuse materials and cause a shift in the industry; Gemma Rasdall & Richard Rasdall’s, Table Lamp, made from entirely recycled materials and which, once turned on, illuminates a map of Pittwatter; and Jessie French’s Algae bioplastic tableware made from Algal polymer derived from red macroalgae and is completely biodegradable.


  • Digital:Film and video works feature in this category including Zan Wimberley’s Coal and Ice using schlieren imaging for flow visualisation to manipulate light inorder to visualise Co2; Alyson Bell’s Tree Spirits, filmed travelling through a landscape of blackened forest in the aftermath of the NSW South Coast bushfires in2020; Andrew Kaineder’s film Mourning Country, following Budawang elder Noel Butler after the loss of his home and Aboriginal culture centre in the Currowan Fire; and Shoufay Derz’s, Ritual for the death of the Reef: Collective shroud, reflecting on the fate of the Great Barrier Reef.


  • Works on Paper and Photography:Works in this category look at our relationship to nature, including Leila Jeffreys’ The wound is the place where the light enters – Bleeding heart dove, reflecting on how nature shows us the transformation that can come from pain and lead us towards change; Kai Wasikowski’s The Subjunctive Mood #4 taken during a trip to China and layered with text from Google Translate to explore the history of national parks and settler conservation movements; Sadhbha Cockburn’s Sovereignty cannot be seeded which features plantable postcards made from handmade paper embedded with wattle seeds considering the effects of colonisation on the natural flora of Sydney; and Jo Neville’s Giant bespoke Paper Waterlilies, created for set design with a circular design approach.


  • Ceramics and Small Sculpture: Works in this category feature ceramics reflecting on environmental themes as well as sculptures using natural materials, including Charlie Lawler and Wona Bae’s Take a breath made from the cleansing and detoxifying material of charcoal; Louis Pratt’s coal sculpture Elemental Rising condemning the burning of fossil fuels; Elliot Bastianon’s Untitled, comprised of nine identical concrete pipes, deliberately referencing the pipelines used by global capitalism, and a bright blue, copper sulphate growth that spills out into the exterior; and Catriona Pollard’s Reservoir of Hope using crushed copper house guttering placed into a bushfire, wood foraged from a bushfire and recycled electrical copper wire, highlighting how even in times of crisis there is always hope.


  • Painting: Finalists works reflect on the devastating bushfires of 2019/2020, with Laura Jones’Burnt Hakea Dactyloides, taking inspiration from the bushfire affected land around her where she grew up in Kurrajong and displaying the resilience of Australian flora; while Greg Weight’s Birdwood sunrise takes a photograph ofbushland taken prior to the area being devastated and layers it with paint to pay homage to the beauty and fragility of the Australian wilderness.


  • Interdisciplinary Collaboration:Finalists include emerging Trawlwoolway artist Edwina Green’s Bull Kelp Side Bags, re-creating and interpreting the tradition ofher ancestors, of making bull kelp water carriers; Jenny Pollak’s video Heft, made in response to Covid-19 and the restrictions imposed by physical distancing; and the Kandos School of Cultural Adaptation’s An artist, a farmer and a scientist walk into a Bar…., created following a series of ambitious collaborations with farmers, scientists, Aboriginal knowledge-holders and rural innovators in regional NSW to explore how arts-informed collaborations can inspire fresh approaches to environmental challenges faced today.  


  • Youth:Split into two categories for entrants aged 7 – 12 and 13 – 18, the works in this category include Abelia Chung’s Coronavirus under the lens demonstrating the effects of the environment on human health with the collaboration of art and science; and Jemima Grimmer’s Reef; Before and After, highlighting the anxiety younger generations feel in the face of the climate crisis.

 Euan Macleod said: “Protecting our environment is one of the most serious issues of our time and each of these works contribute to this conversation in a vital way.”

 Lisa Cahill said: “As climate change looms large creating a collective anxiety and overwhelm, art and design can engage us with what’s possible and remind us of the beauty inherent in our natural world. I was so excited to see the fantastic entries for the prize that point to positive solutions for the future.”  

The Prize is an inclusive and diverse exhibition that celebrates the vibrancy of the arts and design community within and beyond the Northern Beaches. The finalist works showcase artists and designers who have a keen interest and focus on the natural world, environmental renewal, regeneration and the circular economy in their work.