Artist of the Year

Art at its best challenges the accepted shape of things. It transforms materials, spaces and bodies in order, ultimately, to transform consciousness. While this year’s nominees run the gamut of artistic practice, their work is marbled through with themes of cultural equilibrium and reforming and reframing what we think of as the Australian experience.

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Shan Turner-Carroll

Shan Turner-Carroll is an Australian artist of Burmese descent. His work explores the human and non-human, and the alternative forms of social exchange and interactions between art, artist and audience. He’s a self-described trickster, magician and pilgrim. Throughout his photography, sculpture, installation and performance, he blends gesture, everyday objects, and ritual with a playful alchemy. Shan has exhibited in Maitland, Casula, China and Japan. In 2021, Shan was the Art Incubator program recipient, concluding in a solo exhibition at COMA Gallery called ‘The Snake, The Rock and The River’. It was developed with seven psychics in a response to the notions of land, environment and history. Shan was recently included in the launch exhibition ‘From Impulse, To Action’ for the new museum at Bundanon, selected as a finalist in the 67th Blake Prize at Casula Powerhouse, and is a current recipient of the City of Sydney/Brand X LiveWork Space in Darlinghurst Sydney. 

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Riana Head-Toussaint

Riana Head-Toussaint is an interdisciplinary disabled/crip artist of Afro-Caribbean heritage whose practice crosses creative expression, activism, cultural exchange and disability justice. She’s a Solicitor, consultant, DJ, curator and founder of Headquarters – a dedicated digital space led by and centering disabled creatives. Riana interrogates entrenched systems and norms, and advocates for social change through practices such as choreography, performance, film, sound design, immersive installation, and broader space-making projects. 2022 saw Riana choreograph and present site-responsive work ‘Animate Loading’ alongside her collaborators on a rooftop carpark at Pari Ari, and amongst the post-industrial ruins and water tanks at Casula Powerhouse Arts Centre. She also curated ‘Conductive Site’ for Firstdraft Gallery, and founded new club night ‘CRIP RAVE THEORY’.

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Otis Hope Carey

Otis Hope Carey is a decorated surfer-turned-artist. The son of a spear fisherman and school teacher, the Gumbaynggirr and Bundjalung man has two Australian Indigenous Surfing Titles to his name, and his paintings have been shown in private and public galleries around the world. Carey first picked up a paintbrush in 2015. His work reflects on his family, home and heritage, combining traditional patterns and symbols with an amplified, contemporary style. Working mainly in acrylic on canvas, Otis has recently started using wood sculpture and treated bark as well as a number of large-scale murals. To date, his three main bodies of work essentially focus on the ocean, an important clan totem for the Gumbaynggirr people ‘Gaagal, The Ocean’, ‘Ngalunggirr Miinggi, Healing Spirit’, which focuses on its healing qualities, and ‘Ngiinda Darrundang Gaagal, I Thank the Ocean’, which incorporates his interpretation of Gaagal Yuludarla, a ceremonial Ocean Dreaming dance.

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Joel Spring

Joel Spring is a Wiradjuri man and anti-disciplinary artist who works collaboratively on projects that sit outside established notions of contemporary art & architecture. Raised between Redfern and Alice Springs, he works across research, activism, architecture and installation. With a focus on ritual and place, his practice looks hard at Australia’s urban cultural and Indigenous history in the face of ongoing colonisation. Joel’s work is decisive, contemplative and often beautiful in its melding of the digital and natural. He’s exhibited at the Sydney Biennale, contributed to Runway Journal, and is one half of Future Method Studio. His recent work ‘untitled (winhangarra)’ is an architectural intervention commissioned for ‘Ceremony’ at the National Gallery of Australia.

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Gillian Kayrooz

Gillian Kayrooz is an emerging multidisciplinary artist, and woman, from Western Sydney – an identity explored throughout her work. Her practice is reflective and collaborative, drawing on her ongoing engagement with local communities in a decidedly bottom-up, empower-others approach. She’s a director and editor, composer and photographer, with a singular sense of community and personal voice. Gillian is a former artist in residence at the Parramatta Artist Studios, a place that has been home to generations of women in her family. She’s a co-director at Firstdraft, founder of fashion label CHAINMAIL, and has recently exhibited work at Sydney institutions including the Granville Centre Art Gallery and the Casula Powerhouse. Her upcoming exhibition at MAMA, called ‘Five Ways to Say I’m Home’, will be her first institutional solo show.

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Chun Yin Rainbow Chan

Chun Yin Rainbow Chan is a musician, vocalist, producer and multidisciplinary artist. Her wide body of work covers pop and techno territories, mind-bending sound design, poetry and audio-visual installations. She’s exhibited and performed around the world, all while working as an artist mentor and teaching at the Sydney Conservatorium. Her practice draws on her Hong Kong-Chinese heritage, exploring mistranslation, globalisation and the diaspora experience through silk paintings, traditional weaving, sound and performance. You might know her from recent work including multimedia pieces ‘Fruit Song 生果文’ at the National Art School, or ‘Sap 濕’ at Campbelltown Arts Centre, or from her performance at our recent FBi SMACS Fest.

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