Moonah from both sides

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A PICTURE-perfect Red Hill day set the scene for the announcement of the 2019 Montalto Sculpture Prize winner: Moonah by Kylie Stillman (above). 

Montalto owners, the Mitchell family, were joined by fellow judges, artists and guests at the event, Sunday 24 February.

The $40,000 acquisitive award aims to encourage artistic pursuit in a public forum.

Moonah is a free-standing stack of hand-cut fence palings. The imposing work maintains Stillman’s use of everyday materials and follows her use of books and papers to form the objects into which she carves. 

These often enigmatic “blocks” have a presence in themselves. In this case, the stack of panels forms a solid and impenetrable wall on one side and, on the other, reveals the negative form of a coastal moonah tree – a dramatic tortured wind-formed silhouette typical of the area. 

As is Stillman’s style, the form is removed from the block allowing the resultant shadow lines and revealed textures to create the pretence of a tree which is not there at all. The absence of the tree and the scale of the block are not accidental: they are a lyrical prompt for the viewer to reconsider the origins of the matter we use to assemble our constructed world.

This year’s judges were Montalto owner John Mitchell, architect Peter Williams, artist and educator Phillip Doggett-Williams, Ian Potter Museum director Kelly Gelatly, and McClelland Sculpture Park director Lisa Byrne.

First published in the Southern Peninsula News – 19 March 2019

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