THE winner of Tasmania’s most prestigious design award was announced last month, with artist Ashley Eriksmoen taking home the $20,000 acquisitive prize, one of the highest cash prizes for furniture design in Australia.
Celebrating innovative furniture design for more than a decade, the Clarence Prize for Excellence in Furniture Design, run by Clarence City Council, showcases the ingenuity of good design through the combination of function and beauty.
Clarence City Council Mayor Alderman Doug Chipman said the Clarence Prize was an example of the council’s commitment to supporting the arts.
“Our long-term vision for Clarence is as a vibrant, prosperous, and sustainable city,” he said.
“The Clarence Prize forms part of this commitment, and really puts us on the map as a creative city.”
Ms Eriksmoen said she was “over the moon” to have been selected for this prestigious prize, adding that she was humbled and honoured to exhibit alongside such amazing peers.
“Prizes such as this are so important as they provide hope and encouragement to creatives,” she said.
“With funding constantly being cut for arts programs, artists, designers and craftspeople often struggle for opportunities.
“I am so grateful that this prize provides such a fabulous platform and audience to showcase the effort and passion that goes into what we do.”
Ms Eriksmoen’s winning work, titled ‘Following years of steady decline, we are witnessing a period of unprecedented growth’, is a reconfiguration of a rescued chair that incorporates salvaged parts from many other discarded chairs.
Made with hand tools and simple machinery on her back deck during the height of the COVID-19 pandemic, the work seeks to offer an antidote to society’s consumption-waste cycle and begins a critical conversation around the purpose of furniture beyond materiality and function.
“We don’t just throw away our loved ones, we accept their quirks, their brokenness, their age,” Ms Eriksmoen said.
“In the same way, if we feel connected to a special object, we don’t simply throw it away.
“With the rampant deforestation occurring and massive landfills that are growing everyday, maybe it is time to re-frame our understanding on what it is to commit to having an object in our homes?”
The winning work was awarded by a panel of three expert judges – Clare Beale (formerly executive director of Design Tasmania), Dr Scott Mayson (Associate Dean Research and Innovation at RMIT) and Niklavs Rubenis (senior lecturer in Object Design, UTAS School of Creative Arts and Media).
Other winners included Marta Figueiredo for their piece, ‘The Elementary Abacus’, and Mathew Sherwen for their piece, ‘Kodo’, who were awarded the highly commended and emerging artist prizes respectively, as well as a $1,500 non-acquisitive prize.