Artists’ Statement

Statement from the Recipients
of the 2020 Melbourne Prize for
Urban Sculpture

We acknowledge and pay respect to the Boon Wurrung/Bunurong and Woiwurrung (Wurundjeri) peoples of the Eastern Kulin Nation, the Traditional Owners and Elders, past and present, of the unceded lands and waters on which Mel-bourne Prize operates. We’re speaking to you today from different lands and we Acknowledge that as artists we are uninvited guests living and working on Country.

We extend a heartfelt thank you to Kutcha Edwards for his generous contribution to the 2020 Melbourne Prize and for taking on the new appointment of Cultural Advisor and for working in consultation with us.

The shortlisted artists greatly appreciate the vital and generous support provided by the Melbourne Prize for Urban Sculpture 2020 to the field of experimental sculpture.

We thank Simon Warrender for his tireless energy and commitment to the field of sculpture and most importantly the generous support of the Vera Moore Foundation which has made this year’s prize possible. We thank this year’s panel, Simone Slee, Pip Wallace, Marie Sierra and Max Delany for their unreserved support and willingness to take a different journey in awarding this opportunity.

As artists we are responsible and accountable for the framework in which we work. When shortlisted for this prize, as predominantly white settler artists, we collectively reflected on the notable absence of First Nations and people of colour artists in the nominated shortlist. This gave us pause to think about how institutions must change. Alongside our roles as artists visibly positioned within this noticeable absence, we have considered the choice and opportunity we have been afforded through entering this prize alongside the wider, social, economic and political communities in which we live and work. This we can most immediately action through our sculptural, spatial and social practices.

This year, like many other people, we have been immensely saddened and disturbed by current events: the destruction of the 350-year-old Djab Wurrung Directions Tree and Rio Tinto destroying the culturally significant ancient Juukan Gorge rock shelters. We also acknowledge that we are in a moment where the presence of Colonial monuments on un-ceded lands are being actively contested.

It may come as a surprise that there is no singular winner for the 2020 Melbourne Prize for Urban Sculpture. Brought together as the shortlisted artists, we in partnership with the Melbourne Prize, have been on a journey seeking to ad-dress an acknowledged absence of First Nation voices within this year’s Melbourne Prize. As we have been in dialogue with members of our communities and we have sought to work towards change. As a result the prize will be distributed across all of us, the six finalists, and we will collectively pay an equal share of the total prize to a First Nations community organisation.  We will each use the awarded funds to develop and support our artistic practices in line with the wishes of the prize patron.

We are currently in the middle of NAIDOC Week, and to quote the 2020 theme: Always Was Always Will Be.

Beth Arnold, Mikala Dwyer, Field Theory, Emily Floyd, Nicholas Mangan and Kathy Temin


We thank our respective artist representatives for nurturing or work over many years, including: Anna Schwartz Gallery, Hamish McKay Gallery, Roslyn Oxley9gallery and Sutton Gallery. And current supporters including: Creative Spaces, City of Melbourne; Gertrude Contemporary; Monash University, Faculty of Art, Design and Architecture; and Monash Art, Projects MAP; RMIT School of Art; the Victorian College of the Arts, Faculty of Fine Arts and Music, University of Melbourne, LAST Collective, The Physics Room NZ, City of Melbourne Biennial Lab, Melbourne Fringe Festival, Next Wave Festival and Urban Art Projects UAP. We send special thanks to our families and communities.