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VISUAL ARTS  Exhibition  

Midsumma Australia Post Art Prize

Finalists from across the country now announced
Presented by Midsumma Festival and Australia Post
25 Jan – 4 Feb
Opening 24 Jan 6pm
Artist Talk 1 Feb 5.30pm
Auslan: Opening + Talk
Exhibition Thu - Sat 11am - 5pm | Sun midday - 5pm
No Vacancy, QV Gallery, 34-40 Jane Bell Lane, Melbourne

Since its inauguration in 2016 the Midsumma Australia Post Art Prize has quickly established itself as the nation's leading queer art award and exhibition.

With finalists selected from across the country, the Midsumma Australia Post Art Prize is a survey of outstanding queer artists reflecting their potent personal and political perspectives on the world.

With a prize pool of $7000, this is a nation-wide non-acquisitive annual award featuring early-career and established artists working in any medium. Judges of the major art prize of $5000 include curator Kelly Gellatly (Director, The Ian Potter Museum of Art) and independent artist and writer Abbra Kotlarczyk (Art+Australia, un magazine, Das Platforms). Finalists also compete for the the People's Choice Prize of $1000 and the Star Observer Prize of $1000.

2018 Midsumma Australia Post Art Prize Winners

Main prize: Tama tk Sharman – "oh my how things change rua/II_(phalloplasty for poor cunts)"
Star Observer Prize: Lesley Turnbull – "S k i n s"
People's Choice: Xanthe Dobbie – "21st Century Greatest Hits Screensaver Pack"

Midsumma Festival is delighted to present this event as part of our ongoing partnership with Australia Post. Celebrating diversity and inclusion is important to Australia Post. They are committed to supporting their Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender, Intersex and Queer employees and driving positive change to create more inclusiveness not just throughout their workforce but throughout the wider community.

Lesley Turnbull

Lesley TurnbullLesley Turnbull is a Scottish-Australian lens-based artist living and working in Melbourne, Australia. Over the past seven years, Lesley has been committed to building a professional art practice in Australia, and has exhibited both in Australia and overseas, with recent exhibitions in Sydney, Melbourne, Berlin, and Iceland.

Through photography, sequential fragmented or otherwise, her work explores the ambiguity of gender and the transformative potential of landscapes. Lesley is interested in the way photography and visual representation contributes to social and political understandings of identity and subjectivity, and as an artist locates herself within practical and theoretical spaces that allow for experimentation to develop new and resolved work.

Winner: Star Observer Prize

S k i n s
Black and white photographs, printed on archival rag paper, Victorian ash frames
$490 unframed
$890 framed

As a girl, Turnbull would sit with her face close in at the mirror and watch herself stare back. Sitting face-on and motionless for long periods of time, the desired effect of disembodiment presented itself. A felt sense of subject object disintegration, called for a separation of the two. This unsettling, almost obsessive and private activity was in fact the birth of an enquiry that runs throughout Turnbull's work, about notions of truth and unsettling ideas about the stability of identity. Conscious or not, Turnbull generates this raw intimacy between subject and photographer in her portraits, in an exploration of disappearance, fragility and transformation.

Skins (2017) is a part of a new and on-going series of what Turnbull refers to as portraits/landscapes. The work was developed under intensely hot weather conditions, with blinding sunlight. Large scale images were printed on plan paper, and pasted up onto concrete walls. Turnbull documented the work over an eight-month period, a process of recording the work degrade through exposure to the relentless Australian sun. The idea was to conclude the project with the complete erasure of the images by the weather. After a few months the work was stained, tattered and torn, but it also remained intact and present. The act of re-photographing the images speaks to both the actual and poetic associations of transformation, whilst capturing an inherent tension of people both claiming and contesting ideas about identity.

Tama tk Sharman

Tama tk SharmanTama tk Sharman Artist/Printmaker was born in Otepoti/Dunedin Aotearoa 1975. At age 13, Tama was among the youngest persons in the world to successfully steal a police car, and remains proud of this achievement today. He studied art and phys ed at highschool.

In 1991, after being expelled from the last school that would take him, he hit the road and traveled extensively before beginning his formal training as an artist.

He enrolled at Victoria University, obtaining a Diploma of Visual Arts in 2006. Three years later, he attended an intensive course in traditional Japanese woodblock printing at Nagasawa Art Park, Japan, and went on to receive a Bachelor of Fine Arts (Hons) in Printmaking from the Victorian College of the Arts in 2010.

Tama has held regular exhibitions for the past ten years, beginning with his first solo exhibition in 2006. In 2011 he represented Aotearoa/NZ in the World Plate and Print Art exhibition, South Korea, and the following year he was awarded the Australian Print Council Commission. In 2013, he exhibited in Melbourne Now, and his Pacific Transformer series was acquired by National Gallery of Victoria.

Tama has since branched out into film, and his first short film, "Scratchings" debuted at Tilde International Film Festival in 2017.

Winner: Main Prize

oh my how things change rua/ll_(phalloplasty for poor cunts)
Tattoo and surgery on oranges, photos, prints on paper, fountain. Ink, cotton, orange skin, paper.
Dimensions variable

Oranges are used as a practice medium for tattooing.
Tama uses skin from tattooed oranges to practice phalloplasty, particularly the radial forearm flap method where a penis is constructed using a flap harvested from a person's forearm, or in this case from an orange. Tattoos from the flap used then take up a new position on the penis.

During this practice he has also explored, observed and exploited the orange through photography, printmaking and micro-surgery, finding parallels, despair and euphoria.

The artist would like to retrain as a urologist and reconstructive surgeon to become proficient enough to perform the surgical procedure on himself.

Plan b is the wishing well.

Xanthe Dobbie

Xanthe DobbieXanthe Dobbie is a Melbourne-based new media artist and curator. Her practice aims to capture the experience of post-internet contemporaneity as reenacted through feminism, art history, iconography and queer culture.

Xanthe has exhibited across numerous festivals and presented solo exhibitions for The Ferry Gallery (2017), Grey Gardens Projects (2015) and John Buckley Gallery (2014). She has been a curated guest speaker for VIVID Ideas (MCA, 2017), Experimenta Social (2017) and Screen Futures 2016 (ACMI, RMIT) and has been a finalist in the John Fries Award (2016) and the Macquarie Digital Portraiture Award (2014). She is the recipient of City of Melbourne and Creative Victoria arts grants and was selected as a Kickstart artist for her collaborative project 'One Million Views' for Next Wave 2016.

A member of the BLINDSIDE ARI Board of Artistic Directors (2012 - present) and the Curatorium (2017), Xanthe has recently co-curated an international touring collection of queer digital artworks for a series of on- and opine exhibitions at major Australian Queer Festivals. As of 2017, Xanthe's work has been shown internationally in Austria, UK, USA, Thailand, and Germany.

Winner: People's Choice Award

21st Century Greatest Hits Screensaver Pack
Digital web collage, downloadable screensaver (Mac & PC compatible)
Dimensions variable

21st Century Greatest Hits Screensaver Pack is an archival exercise in contemporary history, which capitalises upon online research practice and personal memory. The series begins with the year 2000, and aims to highlight and snapshot the socio-political, technological, and pop-cultural climate of a particular time. Each screensaver is a portrait of its time, as well as a depiction of the retrospective experience of the artist as a young queer woman in a conservative Western society.

Spanning the early 21st century birth of the technological revolution and post-internet existence, the series coincides with the childhood, adolescence and early adulthood of the artist. As such, each work operates as part of a subjective timeline, with screensavers advancing in stylistic and conceptual sophistication. Pantone Colours of the Year are used as base cultural signifiers throughout, and works are named accordingly; 2000 Cerulean, 2001 Fuchsia Rose, 2002 True Red, 2003 Aqua Sky, 2004 Tigerlily, 2005 Sand Dollar etc.

This series is an unreliable, profoundly queer narrator in a post-truth digital landscape.

JUDGE: Kelly Gellatly

Judge: Kelly GellatlyKelly Gellatly is the Director of the Ian Potter Museum of Art at the University of Melbourne. Prior to taking up the role in 2013, she was Curator of Contemporary Art at the National Gallery of Victoria, Melbourne. She has also held curatorial positions at Heide Museum of Modern Art, Melbourne and the National Gallery of Australia, Canberra.

In her time at the Potter, Kelly has developed major partnerships with the Terra Foundation for American Art, Chicago; The Cartier Foundation, Paris, and secured and delivered major exhibitions such as Richard Avedon People and An Illumination: The Rothschild Prayer Book & other works from the Kerry Stokes Collection c.1280-1650 (both 2015). She has also curated numerous exhibitions, including the Potter's Vizard Contemporary Artist Projects Stephen Bush: Steenhuffel (2014) and Susan Norrie: Field Work 2006-2016 (2016) and a forthcoming survey of Stieg Perrson for March 2018.

Kelly has recently overseen the build of the University of Melbourne's newest cultural facility, Buxton Contemporary, and will shortly begin work on a major redevelopment of the Potter Art Museum, due for completion in 2019.

JUDGE: Abbra Kotlarczyk

Judge: Abbra KotlarczykAbbra Kotlarczyk is a visual artist and writer based in Melbourne. Her practice is hinged on visual and linguistic articulations of subjectivity, trans-historicism and expanded notions of publication. She has participated in solo and group exhibitions at Bus Projects, c3 Artspace, TCB Inc., Lindberg Galleries (Australia), North Projects (NZ) and AIRY Gallery (Japan).

Abbra's essays and reviews have been published by Transgender Studies Quarterly (Duke University Press, USA), Decoy Magazine (Canada), Art+Australia, un Magazine and Das Platforms (Australia). She was assistant editor for the 2017 book Artistic Research in the Future Academy by Danny Butt, published and distributed by Intellect Books. In late 2017 she will launch Audial Laud, a digital archive dedicated to conversations across sound and art with a historic backdrop of photographs from the State Library of Victoria archives.

View ALL 2018 Midsumma Australia Post Art Prize Finalists >>

Opening & Talk Auslan interpreted 

Image: In Stride by Mark Payne, 2017 award finalist
Australia PostMidsumma Festival

Wheelchair access Auslan interpreted 


25 Jan – 4 Feb
Opening 24 Jan 6pm
Artist Talk 1 Feb 5.30pm
Auslan: Opening + Talk
Exhibition Thu - Sat 11am - 5pm | Sun midday - 5pm
No session




No Vacancy, QV Gallery
34-40 Jane Bell Lane, Melbourne
CBD: how to get there

Open PTV website to plan your trip Any Swanston St tram to stop 8 | tram 30, 35 to stop 6

Open PTV website to plan your trip Melbourne Central

  • PwC
  • Corrs
  • NAB
  • Jetstar
  • Dan Murphy's
  • City of Melbourne
  • AGL