Two eminent figures in the visual arts, painter John Wolseley and curator Robert Bell, were honoured by the Australia Council for the Arts at a ceremony held in Melbourne.
John Wolseley was awarded the $40,000 Visual Arts Emeritus Award for his career creating artworks that explore our often-complex relationship with the Australian landscape.
Robert Bell was awarded the $10,000 Visual Arts Emeritus Medal for his promotion of Australian craft and design through exhibitions, catalogues and education.
Chair of the Australia Council’s Visual Arts Board, Lesley Alway, said the Australia Council was proud to recognise the outstanding achievements of these key figures in the Australian art world.
‘John and Robert have been instrumental in putting Australian visual arts and craft on the map. John does so quite literally in using cartographical and geological themes to explore our place in the landscape; Robert by supporting Australian decorative arts and design at home and abroad,’ Ms Alway said.
‘It has been a personal pleasure to join with colleagues and friends in the arts community to honour these two outstanding individuals.’
John Wolseley has spent the past 20 years travelling from the deserts of central Australia to the Tasmanian forests for the inspiration behind his compelling meditations on nature and the passage of time.
His best known works include the 1996 exhibition Tasmania to Patagonia: Tracing the Southern Continents and the 2001 Tracing the Wallace Line installation. In September, he was awarded an honorary Doctor of Science degree by Macquarie University.
Robert Bell has been Senior Curator of Decorative Arts and Design at the National Gallery of Australia for the past five years, and was a curator at the Art Gallery of Western Australia from 1978 to 2000. He is a past president of the Crafts Council of Australia and deputy vice president of the World Arts Crafts Council Asian Zone. His exhibition Transformations: the language of craft is currently at the NGA.
The Visual Arts Emeritus Award is one of Australia’s most prestigious individual visual arts awards, recognising outstanding and lifelong contributions to the visual arts and crafts.
The Medal honours the professional achievements of writers, curators, administrators or advocates who have made a major contribution to the field.
‘In receiving these awards, John and Robert join an honour roll of some of the most respected names in the Australian visual arts and craft, including Jeff Carter, Klaus Moje, Robert Owen, Gwyn Hanssen Pigott, Bernard Smith and Bea Maddock,’ Ms Alway said.