Three Queensland College of Art (QCA) graduates are in the running for a $50,000 prize as part of the Hatched National Graduate Show.

The prestigious exhibition at the Perth Institute of Contemporary Art showcases the country’s best up-and-coming artists. It features 24 emerging artists, whose work spans painting, sculpture, photography, installation, textiles, sound and video.

Recent QCA graduates Emma Hutton, Jody Rallah and Michelle Vine, were selected by a panel of the country’s top arts professionals, including artist Nathan Beard and National Gallery of Victoria Curator Indigenous Art Hannah Presley.

They are vying for the Schenberg Art Fellowship of $50,000 – the most significant prize for emerging artists in Australia.

Representing diverse voices

250 Years (The Coolamon Project) by QCA graduate Jody Rallah

Bachelor of Contemporary Australian Indigenous Art (CAIA) graduate Jody Rallah said she was thrilled to be selected for the exhibition.

“It’s an incredible opportunity to showcase my work and gain a national profile,” she said.

Jody is a descendant of the Biri Gubba, Warangu and Yuggera peoples.

Her large-scale installation 250 Years (The Coolamon Project) features 250 ceramic coolamons, traditionally used by Aboriginal women to carry tools, food and water.

The stunning artwork was produced through a community-based project as part of her studies at the QCA.

“People have really connected with this work,” she said.

“Each individual piece tells a story. This isn’t just my voice, it’s the voices of my community.

“The concept was about representing the diversity of our peoples – all the Indigenous nations and language groups.”

Reconciliation through creative collaboration

The installation was inspired by a visit to the Queensland Museum, where CAIA students went behind the scenes and saw artefacts collected from Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander communities.

“It struck a chord with me. Our artefacts need to be held, sung to, spoken to – they are our connection with our ancestors,” she said.

“It made me think about creating these vessels of culture, and it was important for it to be a collaboration that brought all of our people together.”

QCA graduate Jody Rallah

Jody has dreams of extending the project by taking it on the road and getting communities across Australia involved.

“I want to use art to help the reconciliation process and bring all of Australia’s many cultures together,” she said.

Her artistic practice encompasses everything from ceramics to painting and sculpture and she has used her artistic practice to reconnect with family and country.

“I’ve wanted to be an artist since I was a little girl,” she said.

“CAIA has allowed me to pursue that passion, and learn more about my family’s history and my cultural heritage.”

Art with a human touch

QCA graduate Michelle Vine

QCA Honours graduate Michelle Vine is an installation, performance, and photo media artist.

Her tactile installation, Surrogates for Social Touch, is composed of common household objects that have been playfully reimagined as tools for touch and self-soothing.

Michelle’s work, Affirmation Tub, is a cast iron bathtub lined with foam and faux fur with an audio track of whispered affirmations.

Affirmation Tub by QCA graduate Michelle Vine

The works are designed to explore the importance of touch, and grew out of her experience living with a chronic auto-immune disorder.

“I think a lot of people have realised during this time of social distancing just how important touch is in regulating our emotions,” she said.

“Touch is the first way we get to know the world, it’s our first language.

“I wanted my art to create a positive experience and lift people up.”

Making artistic vision a reality

QCA graduate Emma Hutton

Bachelor of Fine Art graduate Emma Hutton will show a major sculptural installation at Hatched.

Timber Skin features more than 5,000 hand-drawn, laser-cut timber pieces, threaded together with fine wire to form a scaled surface.

“This was my major graduation work at the QCA and for it to be on show at a national exhibition is a great opportunity,” she said.

Timber Skin by QCA graduate Emma Hutton

“I loved transforming a solid piece of timber into something quite fluid – it was almost a meditative process, and it’s so rewarding to see your ideas take shape.”

Emma said she benefited from working with leading artists at the QCA.

“All of our lecturers at the QCA were practicing artists and most of them show their work in the big galleries, so they were able to give us feedback on how to execute all of our crazy ideas.”

Celebrating excellence

Professor Elisabeth Findlay

Queensland College of Art Director Professor Elisabeth Findlay said the graduates selected for Hatched were among many promising artists to emerge from the QCA.

“We are delighted to see our graduates work selected for this national exhibition,” she said.

“Hatched provides an opportunity for graduates to present their work in a leading contemporary art gallery alongside their peers from across the country, as well as opportunities for international exposure.

“The fact that our graduates are consistently represented at Hatched reflects the calibre of students studying at the QCA.”

Hatched: National Graduate Show will run from 10 July – 18 October at the Perth Institute of Contemporary Arts (PICA).

For more information on supporting emerging artists at the Queensland College of Art click here.