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UNSW showcases the next generation of creative practitioners

UNSW Sydney 4 mins read
Vedika Rampal, winner of the TWT Excellence Prize, poses with her work Pilgrimage 2023. Photo: Anna Kucera.

UNSW launches the next generation of artists, designers, and digital media creators at the A&D Annual 2023. The largest showcase of graduate contemporary art and design in Australia, the A&D Annual features the work of more than 175 emerging practitioners from the UNSW School of Art & Design.

A fixture on Sydney’s cultural calendar, new works are presented across the UNSW Paddington campus, with exhibitions in UNSW Galleries, AD Space, A-Block, and Black Box, alongside a digital showcase online at unsw.to/annual. Featuring works from one of Australia's most dynamic and diverse art and design schools, the A&D Annual includes interdisciplinary practices across 3D visualisation, animation, ceramics, drawing, experience, furniture, graphics, installation, interaction, jewellery, moving image, painting, photography, printmaking, sculpture, textiles, visual effects, and more.

Winner – TWT Excellence Prize

Vedika Rampal, Bachelor of Fine Arts (Honours) was awarded the 2023 TWT Excellence Prize. The Prize is awarded to an outstanding graduate that demonstrates promise and professional commitment to becoming a full-time creative practitioner. TWT Property Group generously supports the Prize, which includes a $3000 bursary, a one-year mentorship, and use of studio space at St Leonards Creative Precinct for one year.

Vedika Rampal's winning work Pilgrimage 2023 interrogates Western museological modalities that perceive ‘art/efacts’ as distinct from cultures. The installation uncovers how these materials and objects, containing potential histories, resist inscription, plunder and reproduction through fragmentation. Committed to unlearning imperialism, Rampal says she researches the past, “not to possess a nostalgia for lost origins but rather to rupture these fissures within the present moment and create an openness.”

The judging panel for the 2023 TWT Excellence Prize included artist and Senior Curator at Artbank, Oliver Watts, alongside UNSW School of Art & Design Lecturers Dr Trent Jansen and Dr Rebecca Shanahan. The judges were impressed by the innovative and distinctive visual language expressed in Vedika Rampal's winning work.

“The work is beautifully realised with a strong materiality that cleverly engages with multiple layers of colonial history and critique. Rampal’s work is presented to a very high professional standard, indicative of a thoughtful and committed practitioner with significant potential into the future.”

In addition to their generous support to students through the TWT Excellence Prize, TWT Property Group are also the Event Partner of the A&D Annual. The opening night celebrations activated the entire UNSW Paddington campus, with live student performances presented amongst the festivities.

The Director of TWT Property Group, Gavin Zhang, said: “Nowadays, with AI potentially taking over lots of formulated tasks in the foreseeable future, human creativity has become more important than ever. Every student showing in the Annual represents the most irreplaceable talent in the workforce. Big congratulations to all the graduating artists!”

Winner – Frost* Design Prize

Jiaying Qian, Bachelor of Design (Honours) is the recipient of the Frost* Design Prize. This newly established prize is awarded to a design student who has demonstrated originality, experimentation and critical enquiry through their work, that is also well-resolved to a high standard of execution. A bursary of $3000 is generously supported by Frost*collective.

The winning project Modina 2023 proposes an alternative to the ecologically damaging effects of human-centred design. Jiaying Qian began co-designing with slime mold and spirulina as experiments in the bio-facture of textiles to explore what was possible for a more-than-human design supply chain. “Transforming the supply chain through the inclusion of living organisms in the creation of wearable devices demonstrates one approach to a more habitable future,” says Qian.

The judging panel included Vince Frost, Founder, CEO and Executive Creative Director of Frost*collective, who was joined by Professor Alison Gwilt and Stephen Goddard from UNSW School of Art & Design. The panel commended Jiaying Qian for an extraordinary achievement in her Honours year.

Remarking on the winner of the inaugural Prize, Vince Frost said: “From slime to sublime. Jiaying blew my mind. Co-created with nature and technology. A huge idea beautifully executed.”

Winner – Ross Steele AM Fine Arts Prize

Hamda Al Kuwari, Bachelor of Fine Arts (Honours) was selected as the winner of the 2023 Ross Steele AM Fine Arts Prize. This prize is awarded to an outstanding fine arts graduate, who receives a $3000 bursary offered with the generous support of Ross Steele AM.

Hamda Al Kuwari’s video installation GutraVerse 2023 is an exploration of self-healing and navigates the ties between cultural identity and growth. Drawing from her Qatari heritage, symbols like the gutra headdress become tools for introspection and resilience. Al Kuwari says, “I reinterpret these symbols to reclaim my narrative, fostering self-awareness and liberation.”

The 2023 judging panel comprised of artist Kuba Dorabialski and Chau Chak Wing Museum Curator Dr Shuxia Chen, who are both also UNSW School of Art & Design Lecturers. The judges described the winning work as a powerful and elegant depiction of the process of making through un-making.

“The gesture of the unpicking and erasing of the threads of the gutra is a potent manifestation of the artist's questioning of the place of women in Qatari society, and is simultaneously gentle and labour intensive, empowering and melancholy. The video shows us how the symbolism of an object can extend into its afterlife.”

Professor Edward Scheer, Head of School, UNSW School of Art & Design, said the 2023 graduate cohort are a testament to the importance of creativity, technical skill, and resourcefulness.

“The outstanding work they have produced demonstrates the capacity for art and design to impact our world, as they respond to the social, technological, and environmental issues of our time,” said Professor Scheer.

The A&D Annual 2023 is on display at the UNSW Paddington Campus from 6 - 17 December. The exhibition spaces will be open Monday - Friday, 10am - 5pm, Saturday and Sunday, 12pm - 5pm. Led by the Masters of Curating & Cultural Leadership cohort, a program of curated tours, sound walks, panel discussions and talks will be presented during the exhibition.

The digital showcase of graduate works is also available to view online now.


Contact details:

Media Contact

Fergus Grealy

External Engagement Coordinator

UNSW Faculty of Arts, Design & Architecture

0402 718 914

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