Drawing the lines for the CAPO Emerging Artists’ Prize

Ellen Wignell

An exhibition where the geometric reigns king, and graphic lines – be it in sculpture, print, paint or plant (yes the kind with leaves) – will stand out amongst the crowd. CAPO’s inaugural Emerging Artists’ Prize is set to be a great addition to Canberra’s bubbling artistic calendar, opening 6pm this Thursday 28 May at M16 Artspace.

Drawing the lines for the CAPO Emerging Artists’ Prize

Sanne Koelemij – Monday’s Structure, 2014, acrylic, spray paint, hessian on canvas, 153 x 101cm

For many old hands in the Canberra arts scene, CAPO is a familiar organisation, having been around for some 30 years. However for those who aren’t acquainted, CAPO’s acronym stands for Capital Arts Patrons’ Organisation. CAPO is famous or infamously renown for its annual Art Auction party, where donated artworks are auctioned, wine flows freely and CAPO announces winners of its many generous grants. Stay tuned to the CAPO website as the 2015 Award Round opens shortly.

This year CAPO has added a new event to its calendar and wading into new territory, the CAPO Emerging Artists’ Prize will celebrate Canberra’s emerging artists AND curators. The exhibition reflects the changing arts landscape in Canberra, marked by the 2014 merger of the ANU Art School and the ANU Art History department and highlights new areas of collaboration between artist and curator, who can both struggle to ‘make it’ together, in the ever-shifting emerging arts scene.

And ‘make it’ they have: Hannah Webb and Ella Morrison both graduated with Honours from ANU Art History in 2014 and were chosen to curate this exhibition through the ANU EASS Scheme. They have selected a strong group of artists from the same graduating year to showcase the emerging talent of the Canberra region: Joel Arthur, Estelle Briedis-Spelman, Mimi Fairall, Sanne Koelemij, Chelsea Lemon, Millán Pintos-Lόpez, Kael Stasce, Gemma Sue, Madeleine Ward, Madisyn Zabel and Yioryios.

Hannah and Ella have shared the process of curating the exhibition with blog posts on their own blogsite

Drawing the lines for the CAPO Emerging Artists’ Prize

Joel Arthur, No. 49, acrylic on board, 2015, 122 x 122cm

– which is great for the sticky beaks amongst us, who like to see the ‘behind the scenes’ snippets and photos, as clues to what the exhibition will look like as a whole.

The broad umbrella of ‘geometry’ has helped Hannah and Ella bring these varied artists together, in a cohesive and strong exhibition. Geometry has a long history within art historical discourse, as is evident in many movements, including (but not limited to) Constructivism, Suprematism, Cubism and the Bauhaus. Lessons learned from these different movements are continually being redeveloped, reused and reanalysed to provide fresh and contemporary light on an age-old theme.


Through their selection of artists, the curators wish to give insight into the ways in which different geometries can be interpreted. For them “each artist, in their own way represents the technical, conceptual and visual possibilities of geometry.” And this, I believe has drawn the strongest line, throughout this exhibition.


Lastly, at the opening on 28 May, a winner will be announced, drawn from the exhibiting artists. The judges are Mark Bayly, Senior Curator from CMAG and Megan Jackson, acting Director of Megalo. The winner will receive $500, donated by CAPO. Make sure you come to the opening to see the winner, meet the artists, and of course drink some wine.


CAPO Emerging Artists’ Prize will show from 28 May – 14 June, M16 Artspace.

Opening hours: Wednesday to Friday, 12-5pm.