2021 Tatiara Art Prize winner
The Shortest Day of the Year
woollen blankets, assorted fabrics,
yarn, metallic thread
123 x 175 (cm)
My grandmother was born on the shortest day of the year.
Raised on a dairy farm, I remember/imagine her reluctantly peeling back blankets and scurrying through icy, pre-dawn gloom to rest her cheek against Judy’s warm flank.
When the first small holes began to fray her memories, I started stitching forms cut from a blanket lifted down from the highest reach of her linen press.
First it was one work, then two, then half a blanket packed into a case to Italy and home again, then more, and then the scraps of those works became new works and then there were more scraps from these…until my home was snowdrifts of small, confetti-ed, fuzzy grief.
When she died, I was compelled to return all of these tiny scraps to their previous, domesticated existence. I patched together tattered scraps and wonky holes unearthed from the cracks of my home, each one holding a material link to that first, short day…until they were a blanket once more.
I thought this would be the final work. But my cutting - stitching - weeping produced more scraps still. Pressed fabric spots flutter from the pages of an art journal, a craggy field of pink waits its turn in the living room, and ends of threads I cannot abandon settle in the creases of my bed sheets.
Both burden and relief, so it continues.
Deborah's work is the kind of work to bring you back, to offer you more, to make you feel and to make you question. Rather than a simple picture she offers us, with painstaking detail, a look into her most private emotions. It's so much more than a pretty picture, it's a quietly stellar work by a dedicated and clever artist.
- Ben Quilty
Deborah Prior’s large-scale textile work The Shortest Day of the Year is an evocative work which draws the viewer into the story of the artist and her grandmother. It is a work about love and loss and finally restoration. Each stitch is made with intent and each piece of cloth is placed with precision in order to rebuild and repair that which has been lost. Made from vintage Australian woollen blankets this beautifully crafted work speaks of connections – intimate family connections; the wool industry and its critical connection to regional and remote communities and our inherent connections to the land we live on. From a distance the work reads as a giant topographic map and alludes to the connection all Australians have with our landscape – difficult and challenging when considering the loss and destruction of landscape, people and culture through colonisation but concomitantly beautiful, wonderous and resilient.
At a time when human beings across the globe are struggling with loss and loneliness, Prior’s work is an emotionally effecting work which offers the audience hope that we can rebuild from these losses and come together, albeit in an altered (and perhaps more beautiful) form.
- Tansy Curtin
Image: Sam Roberts
2021 Tatiara Art Prize
a thousand storms
oil and aerosol on linen
200 x 200 (cm)
a thousand storms came from a moment of opening my draw at home. I found an envelope and in that envelope I found all of the birthday cards I'd kept throughout my life, key birthday cards from important people, one of them being my best friend and brother to me, Adam. Unfortunately Adam passed away from suicide 9 years ago. Since then I had created a memorial piece for him, made up of all the worlds I wanted to say to him. I thought I was doing OK until I stumbled across the birthday cards he made for me, I then found myself on the floor overwhelmed with memories and feelings yet again. I decided to scan the text he had written in the cards and amplify them to an epic scale to portray him and give his voice back. These intimate birthday messages come back to life in this work. Every piece of art I make with him in mind as he will always be on my mind.
2021 Tatiara Art Prize
Duty of Care
hessian, cotton, hemp, pelt, skin, teeth, gold, wood, bone, metal
60 x 70 (cm)
I fashion earthy organic treasures from found materials and re-purposed gold, informed by my conservation practices on Karta/Kangaroo Island, South Australia. I am currently extending my 2020 work Duty of Care – a series of intricately crafted medallions evoking nostalgic sentiments of awarded colonial treasures. This evolving body of work pays homage to wildlife endemic to Karta/Kangaroo Island whilst acknowledging the ongoing threats impacting some species towards extinction. The recent wildfires on Karta/Kangaroo Island, and feral cat predation, have played a significant role in the decline of fauna populations. My work responds directly to the trauma of the fires, the mass devastation of landscapes, and loss of habitat. My creative practice is multi-disciplinary; it encompasses on ground management, surveillance, and monitoring the recovery of species and predators, as well as object-based art making. I purposely chose an arduous custodial role when I invested in the wild bushland of remote northwest of Karta/Kangaroo Island. I traded in an accomplished career and jewellery boutique, working for over a decade in London as a commercial designer, goldsmith and maker, to invest in the ecological future of my SA homeland. With a combined three decades of environmental activism and creative practice, my work raises consciousness around these shared subjects. It calls for the preservation of Australia's natural heritage and to rethink the way we are living.
2021 Local Artist Prize winner
65 x 80 (cm)
Ruby Schwarz (16)
15-17 Young Artist Prize winner
Don't Be So Hard on Yourself
The initial starting point of this work was a photograph taken with one of my friends, wherein she posed like those found in many renaissance artworks. Adding my own spin through the use of thick, expressive lines, I created a work that I believe represents the depth of emotions felt during teenage years. The title, Dont Be So Hard on Yourself, was borrowed from the Alex Lahey song of the same name. Listened to while painting. I found that many of the ideas within the music resonated with me and hence were reflected in the final painting.
Zelie Phillips (10)
10-14 Young Artist Prize winner
Georgina Prescott (7)
6-9 Young Artist Prize winner
Carol Murray Children's Centre 0-5 Young Artist Prize winner
Weaving through our community (3-4 years)
collage / weaving
Connect to Country (5 years)
Packing Room Prize
(voted by Tatiara Council staff)
oil on canvas
200 x 130 (cm)
Poocha Swamp is currently known as a game reserve. This means that duck shooting is allowed from March to the end of June - every day from sunrise to sunset! It is also registered on the Australian free camping list and used for recreation by the general public.
Poocha has a unique eco-system which means that water does not stay in the swamp for long periods of time. The water drains down the “run away” holes and into the underground aquifers. Eighty species of birds have been counted in Poocha by a bird watcher, which was recorded in our local paper in the 1980’s. When the water arrives, there is an influx of people who utilise this area for bird watching, walking, canoeing, picnics, art, photography and other recreational activities.
This small window of opportunity for the general public to use and appreciate this beautiful reserve is restricted due to duck shooting. When the shooters come in, all the birds leave, the ducks are shot and maimed, and it is not safe for people to enjoy because of the guns.
My painting is about capturing this beautiful area for the viewer to appreciate, and to educate the people on what is really going on here. I believe and suggest that the name of “Poocha Game Reserve”, be changed to “Poocha Wildlife Sanctuary”. This will enable the wildlife to flourish and the community to freely use and appreciate this beautiful and unique eco system.