The Jenny Birt Award 2023

Congratulations to all students recognised as finalists for the 2023 Jenny Birt Award.

Congratulations to all students recognised as finalists for the 2023 Jenny Birt Award.

For more than 25 years, Jenny Birt has been encouraging and supporting young artists to pursue and build careers as professional practicing artists. One of the ways she has supported young and emerging artists is through an annual award – the Jenny Birt Award at UNSW Art & Design. 

The Jenny Birt Award was initiated in 1995 by the ‘U Committee’ and is the longest running and most prestigious award for Painting within the UNSW Art & Design academic calendar. Candidates are nominated by academic staff and then selected for inclusion in the exhibition and consideration for the $4,000 Jenny Birt Award.

This year’s exhibition at AD Space (28 June – 7 July 2023) featured the work of nineteen finalists: 

Aarushi Zarthoshtimanesh, Abby Murray, Anna Nolan, Annalise Jennings, Bianca Currey, Daisy WT Ng, Hattie Bidwell, Jacqueline Jacky, Joel Coleman, Keroshin Govender, Lua Pellegrini, Lucinda Hackett, Lucy McLauchlan, Lucy Parkinson, Maite Feijo, Ming Sun, Monisha Kumar, Sophia Olivieri, Vedika Rampal

The judging panel included Sarah Contos (artist and UNSW alumn) and Dr Tim Gregory (Lecturer, UNSW Art & Design).


Congratulations to the winner of the 2023 Jenny Birt Award, Jacqueline Jacky for their work “That Place They Had”. 

Judges’ comments: Jacky’s work is conceptually and materially potent, emblematic of a mature practice that balances ambition with close attention to detail. The artwork is technically well made and realised, with each aspect of the installation carefully considered, including the ‘back’ of the artwork. The artwork speaks to acknowledgement as a social and political structure, while also exploring personal experiences, stories, and histories of Aboriginal identity. Relationships between public and private, colonial and First Nations, are thoughtfully negotiated through the deft handling of materials, processes, imagery, and text. This is a sophisticated work with a nuanced and powerful message. Congratulations Jacqueline.

Highly commended

Anna Nolan for “Limit less”

Judges’ comments: Nolan’s work is unsettling while being tender. There is a quiet confidence in the brush marks and in the commitment to a concise composition. The artwork creates an emotional pull, combining both comfort and discomfort.

Lua Pellegrini for “Behind Curtains”

Judges’ comments: Pellegrini’s work is well resolved as an installation with a strong presence in the space. The relationship between the site specificity of the natural materials and the European motif of the doily is striking, evoking a critical reflection on Australia’s colonial past and present.

Abby Murray for “Standing still, falling through, climbing up”

Judges’ comments: Murray’s sculptural approach to painting is compelling. The floor work is particularly well resolved and it is exciting to see this work consider painting as both object and surface.