Grace Cossington Smith art award 2015 Finalists

2015 art award

The Grace Cossington Smith art award is a national acquisitive contemporary art prize sponsored by Abbotsleigh, commemorating one of its alumni, Grace Cossington Smith, who is known as a pioneer of modernist painting in Australia.

Artists were invited to submit original two dimensional artworks reflecting the theme of Making Connections. The winning entry will form part of the permanent collection of Abbotsleigh’s Grace Cossington Smith Gallery.

Judges and Selectors

Judges: Geoffrey Legge, Director, Watters Gallery and Damien Minton, Gallery Manager, Watters Gallery

Selectors: Anneke Jaspers, Assistant curator Contemporary Art, Art Gallery NSW and Dr Stephen Little, Head of Painting, National Art School.

The $15,000 Grace Cossington Smith art award winner and finalists will each be awarded $1,000. Finalists’ artworks will be displayed at the Grace Cossington Smith Gallery at Abbotsleigh, Wahroonga from 7 November to 5 December 2015.

Entries were received from around the country from artists who created two dimensional artworks responding to the theme of Making Connections. The selectors acknowledged that creating a shortlist of only 15 finalists from 300 submissions made the selection process difficult. The diversity of the submissions revealed great rigour and quality from artists at differing stages in their career.


Key dates 2015

  • Period in which work must have been completed: after 1 September 2014
  • Artists must have been a resident of Australia/New Zealand: September 2014 to September 2015
  • Submission of entry applications and fee: from 1 May –  CLOSING DATE EXTENDED TO FRIDAY 18 SEPTEMBER 2015 5pm
  • Finalists notified, email, phone and website: 7 October 2015
  • Finalists’ artworks delivered to the GCS Gallery: 26 to 30 October 2015
  • Announcement of winner: 7 November 2015
  • Grace Cossington Smith art award 2015 exhibition: 7 November to 5 December 2015

2015 art award Winner

The winners of the Grace Cossington Smith biennial art award for 2015 is Jake Blaschka

Jake Blaschka:

rebajas مصخ ,سفانم (Drawing as object 3), 2015, Untreated steel, duratrans print, acrylic, fluorescent lights, timber.156 x 104​

Obelus 3, 2015, Aluminium composite panel, timber, fluorescent light, acrylic paint, 150 cm x 100 cm

Statement from the GCS art award judges Geoffrey Legge and Damien Minton

We were very impressed by ‘rebajas’ as a most accomplished collage which was purposely made to seem unplanned and haphazard, because information which people are subjected to in their day-to-day life is mostly unsought and haphazard.

This unsought information has been torn up by Blaschka, made indecipherable, and arranged in this seemingly casual but visually fascinating arrangement, then photographed to become the large back-lit image which incorporates shadows, suggesting it is being lit from the front.

The torn edges of the material used inform us that we are viewing torn-up bits and pieces of the unsought information that besiege us, yet, at the same time, these torn edges are the very skillfully used aspect of the work.

‘Obelus 3’ can be thought of as an-after image of the collage. The gentle light that surrounds it is like the idea of truth eclipsed and made obscure by falsehood.

Artist Statement

Exploring connections between art and advertising, my work questions the role advertising plays within our contemporary society. Completely negating the function of back lighting a transparent advertisement, Obelus draws the viewer in to observe a surface that could have once supported an advertisement. Depicting only small traces of characters left on the surface of the aluminium, I intend to present the work only as suggestions of advertisements rather than artworks. Recontextualising the term Obelus, a mark used in ancient manuscripts to point out spurious, corrupt, doubtful or superfluous words or passages, the small markings on the work signify a suggestion of an untrustworthy advertisement. Manifesting an entropic vision of advertising, the work presents a form of social, political and economic debris.

In rebajas  cropped image of large scale collages are re-presented in a depository resembling backlit bus stop advertisements, processing advertising imagery through yet another layer of mediation. Being installed irregularly on the floor with exposed wiring and uneven lighting, the work infers a deliberate decommissioned quality. By emphasizing this dysfunctional character, I intend to intervene with technology used in high-end advertising in the same way I exploit the didactic content within printed advertising imagery. Preserving a connection to the original source material, the finished size of the work is that of printed billposters, while the depth and material of the frames replicate those of the bus stop ad shells. Revisiting Wolf Vostell’s application of dé-collage to modern technology, this work forges connections between art, life and advertising.


Related downloads
GCS art award 2015 Media Release Download PDF
GCS art award 2015 Catalogue Download PDF
GCS art award 2015 Roomsheet Download PDF
GCS art award 2015 Media Release – Winner Download PDF

2015 GCS art award Finalists exhibition


Photography copyright Richard Glover