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Susan Norrie.

Susan Norrie Wins $50,000 Don Macfarlane Prize

Sydney-based artist Susan Norrie has been named the winner of this year’s Don Macfarlane Prize, an annual $50,000 cash prize awarded to Australian artists in recognition of their “unwavering, agenda-setting arts practice” and contributions to Australian art. She is the third artist to receive the prize; previous winners include Pat Brassington and Linda Marrinon.

“Over the past three decades, Susan’s practice continues to be strikingly relevant, deeply foreboding and beautifully composed, bringing a moment of poetry and redemption to research driven, aesthetic, social, political, and scientific material,” the prize’s 2019 advisory committee said. “Using art as a tool to remind us of the most vexing and urgent issues of our times, Susan Norrie is a true pioneer.”

Born in 1953, Norrie originally trained as a painter, but she shifted to making films and installations in the mid-1990s. Most of her works are political commentaries on environmental and humanitarian concerns, such as Undertow, 2002, a six-screen video work featuring footage of storms, dust clouds, and thermal and mud pools—capturing manmade and natural catastrophes—and Passenger, 2003, which juxtaposes images of New Zealand glowworm caves and insect swarms with scientific experiments.

Norrie represented Australia at the Venice Biennale in 2007, alongside Callum Morton and Daniel von Sturmer. In 2016, she was commissioned by the Australian War Memorial to create a new film work, which is currently in development. Her works can be found in the collections of the National Gallery of Australia, the National Gallery of Victoria, the Auckland City Art Gallery, and the Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum in New York.

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