Young Aboriginal artist and UNSW Art & Design Master of Art graduate Shevaun Wright, has been named the winner of the 2015 Parliament of New South Wales Aboriginal Art Prize, taking out the coveted $40,000 prize. Shevaun was announced as the winner at an awards ceremony held at Parliament House overnight. The Parliament of New South Wales Aboriginal Prize is the most valuable award for Aboriginal artists born or living in New South Wales. 

Her work titled Site Specific Work [Suggested Corporate Names – Catholic Child Abuse Compensation Entity] was chosen by judges curator Stephen Gilchrist, artist Julie Gough and academic Liza-Mare Syron. A practising lawyer and artist, Shevaun “aims to compare feminist and postcolonial critiques of the law and art as a means to access and reveal similarities in their discursive practices.” Site-specific work uses language to explore discourse around the confronting issue of child sexual abuse.

Shevaun is a previous finalist in the Parliament of New South Wales Aboriginal Art Prize and in 2012 won a postgraduate scholarship with UNSW Art & Design. Since completing the postgraduate scholarship, she has completed a residency as a fellow of the Art & Law Program in New York and was selected, and is currently participating in, the Whitney Museum of American Art Independent Study Program. The Parliament of NSW Prize is her first major art award.

In addition to the main Art Prize, the awards ceremony also encompassed the 2015 UNSW Art & Design Aboriginal Art Residency Award, which includes an Artist Residency at UNSW; the opportunity to work with UNSW staff in a medium of choice; a solo exhibition at EPS Gallery, UNSW and up to $500 worth of art materials, travel expenses and per diems.

The winner of the 2015 Professsional Development Award is Aleshia Lonsdale for her work Significant to whom for what? The mixed media work uses stone tools, emu feathers, polymer bank notes and a set of scales to “reflect the imbalance in the system which assesses and approves major coal mining developments.” The judges said Aleshia's work "is poetically visual and makes us consider, and perhaps, ‘weigh up’ the consequences of decisions that are made now and into the future." And they also noted her art "contains a powerful message fully realised at the intimate level”. 

“We are looking forward to Aleshia Lonsdale’s presence on our Paddington Campus and to supporting her creative professional development,” said Prof Ross Harley, Dean. “Resident artists are an essential part of our creative community – and staff, students and alumni look forward to engaging her exciting practice and ideas”

The Parliament of New South Wales Aboriginal Art Prize is currently on display at the NSW Parliament House on Sydney's Macquarie Street until 2 November 2015. Entry to the exhibition is FREE, with doors open 9am to 5pm Monday to Friday. Following the exhibition, the works will commence a tour of selected regional galleries in New South Wales.

Read more in the Aboriginal Arts Directory.