IT’S a win that almost didn’t happen for Dungog-based artist Natalie Duncan.
Duncan took out the 2017 Emerging Artist Prize. However, her work had been culled in the first sweep of judging.
When judges arrived to make a final decision, they asked if they could also see the works that had not made the final cut.
And that was when they lay their eyes on Kimmy K Artamidae, a ceramic work themed on the artist’s interest in how women are perceived.
“This particular one, that won the award, was about the female being aligned with the lesser in our society,” Duncan said.
“I made her glittery, colourful. She is quite a spectacle, using material we align with the feminine and devalue.
“Like glitter, and using pinks. She has a big crystal vagina at the front of her and she has this fantastic head-dress that is beaded.
“I really push that aspect because if you make that type of art, or you like that type of art, it is deemed as superficial. Therefore, you are superficial.
“I am trying to say ‘It’s not the case’. It’s just because we align these things with the feminine that we devalue it.”
The work takes inspiration from Kim Kardashian and the artamidae species of magpie.
“Kimmy knows she will be judged immediately,” Duncan’s artist statement reads. “She realises she will be judged like some superficial species of bird.
“She knows pretty sparkly things are aligned with the feminine and are therefore lesser.
“But she gives zero f***** and wears them anyway. I want to be her.”
Duncan said judges noted the importance of a well thought out artist statement when commenting on the win.
“My work was in the reject room … the saloon des refuses,” she said. “The artist statement was something they mentioned on the night … they encouraged a lot of the other people to really look at the statements, and how important that is to your work, as well.”
The work is inscribed with a meme, “Kim there are people dying.”
“I feel like she represents all that superficiality and if I am going to name a pot, that says, “’f**** you, I don’t care’, then I am going to call it Kimmy K Artamidae after a species of bird.
“We are all categorised (as women) … like birds,” she said.
“I wanted to say, ‘you can like these things’. It’s no less a work of art than some minimalist, masculine painting on a wall.”
Donna Cavanaugh and Gaye Shield, also of Dungog, were finalists.
“We have a bit of a creative arts hub out there,” Duncan said.
Duncan graduated from the University of NSW in 2015, where she studied ceramics and sculpture. Prior to that, she served in the army where she was her unit’s combat photographer.
It was while in deployment in Afghanistan that Duncan decided to study art.