Hand-engraved core sample wins the 2021 Footscray Art Prize

Published on 10 May 2021

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Northern Territory based artist Lee Harrop has been awarded the $10,000 Footscray Art Prize for her sculptural work that interrogates the mining industry using a hand-engraved core sample.

The winning work, titled And this, too, shall pass, was selected by the judging panel – made up of NGV’s Myles Russell-Cook, VCA’s Vikki McInnes, and freelance curator Kirsty Grant – from 39 shortlisted artworks after the judges initially reviewed over 830 entries into the third iteration of the Prize.

The judges observed that the work is “modest in scale and quiet in its presentation, but in this apparent simplicity, it has great power.” They were impressed by the materiality of the object – solid and tactile – that speaks to a deep time.

Core samples have become a regular feature in Harrop’s arts practice, influenced by her collaborations with Western Australian and Northern Territory Geological Core Libraries. The naturally occurring substances are typically mined and analysed to determine what materials lay beneath the earth’s surface.

“Utilising text and quoting a familiar adage that reflects on the temporary nature of human existence, it resonates widely, reminding us of our connections to the past and responsibilities to the future.” concluded the judges.

As a PhD candidate at Charles Darwin University, Harrop explores the representations of mining, its connection to the wider global discourse about its environmental impact, and the present pandemic.

A new category, the $10,000 Local Artist Acquisition Prize, has also been awarded to Sunshine-based artist Simon Clark for his work Gaskin Gardens. The impact of the pandemic on our communities is a strong theme in the exhibition, and Clark’s intricately layered collage reflects on the confinement that many commission housing residents experienced during lockdown. The artwork will be acquired into Maribyrnong City Council’s art collection.

The social, cultural, political, environmental and lived experience of Maribyrnong - its diversity, its people, and its roots - are the themes identified in Council’s Art and Heritage Collection Policy. From 165 eligible entrants, 11 works were shortlisted in the Local Artist Acquisition category and judged against their relevance to these themes and the acquisition criteria. 

The inaugural Local Artist Acquisition prize came out of recent community consultations to develop Maribyrnong City Council’s Art and Heritage Collection Policy, with the community telling us they wanted Council to invest in living artists through strategic acquisitions to the City’s art collection.

Footscray Community Arts Centre (FCAC) will soon receive a new mural addition thanks to the $5,000 Street Art Prize, which was awarded to Macedon resident Emma Coulter. Her mural, to be installed in the next few weeks, will attempt to create a ‘window’ between the community and FCAC. The judges selected this work for the potential it has to instantly engage visitors to the area, “drawing them in with the strength of its design, the way it plays with perception, as well as it’s joyful colour”.

Two artists – Ahmad Sabra and Scotty So – also received a residency with FCAC as part of the new Emerging Artist category.

Local artists Rosie Kalina and Dawn Tan selected the winners of the Young Artists Prize categories from over 160 artworks, which are displayed at Victoria University’s MetroWest venue.

The biennial prize is a unique collaboration between Victoria University, Maribyrnong City Council, Footscray Community Arts Centre and the Rotary Club of Footscray with And this, too, shall pass, along with winners in Local Artist Acquisition, Street Art, Emerging Artist and Young Artist categories, viewable in free exhibitions at Footscray Community Arts Centre and VU at MetroWest until Saturday 5 June 2021

For more information about the exhibition visit www.footscrayartprize.com/exhibitions, which includes an online catalogue and 360 video tour.    

A word from the Mayor, Cr Michael Clarke

“We are thrilled to introduce the inaugural Local Artist Acquisition Prize.

This newly added category is especially important as it supports artists that call our beautiful City and surrounds home. 

Whilst the Footscray Art Prize is a national prize, the Local Artist Acquisition Prize celebrates our local practitioners, and provides opportunities for their work to be profiled in the arts industry and seen by the wider community.”


The winners 

Footscray Art Prize winner (main prize) 


Lee Harrop
And this, too, shall pass

Street Art Prize winner 

Spatial deconstruction.jpg

Emma Coulter
Spatial deconstruction #25

Local Artist Acquisition Prize winner 

Gaskin Gardens.jpg

Simon Clark 
Gaskin Gardens 

Emerging Artist Prize winners 


Ahmad Sabra


As she.png

Scotty S
As She…

Young Artist Prize winner (secondary) 

To Grow Up.jpg

Miwa Wilson
To Grow Up

Young Artist Prize winner (primary) 

Growling Grass frogs and their habitat.jpg

Jayden Ly
Growling Grass frogs and their habitat

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