The Pam Lofts Award for High Endeavour in Central Australian Contemporary Art.
The Lofty Award was created in honour of Pamela Lofts, a strong contributor to the arts and culture of Central Australia for over 30 years. She was well-known as a visual artist and arts advocate, children's book illustrator of Mem Fox’s stories and one of the founding members of Watch This Space in 1993. As Dan Murphy, previous Chair of WTS, explains:
We acknowledge the brilliance of her work across all mediums and the passion and dedication through which she approached her practice. Pam had a way of gathering objects, ideas and inspiration from her environment and re-configuring these elements into often simple, yet very powerful works... Through the strength and diversity of her arts practice and her generosity of spirit, Pam has played a pivotal role in the creation of a vibrant, dynamic and supportive arts community in Central Australia.
In 2011, the Loftys were inaugurated into WTS's annual program. Less than a year later in July 2012, Pam passed away after a two year battle with motor neuron disease. The loss of this incredible artist has, to this day, been keenly felt by many in our Central Australian community and beyond. Her memory lives on through this organisation, the people who loved her deeply and forever, and through this unique award.
ABOUT THE AWARD
The LOFTY award is unlike other art awards as it is awarded to an individual's contribution to community. It recognises and rewards those who play a role in the ‘ever evolving creative culture' of Central Australia.
Whilst the award is given to an individual, it is the broader community who ultimately benefits from the encouragement and mentoring of those involved in creative enterprises. This enables the broader community to be inspired and to participate in arts and culture in our region, as creative enterprises help to develop an inclusive, healthier and more vibrant place to live. The LOFTY award was set up to honour key contributors to the cultural and artistic life our region.
OUR LOFTY WINNERS
Kieran Finnane recounted the evening and words of WTS Chair, Frankie Snowdon, as she announced the 2017 Lofty:
Without naming this year’s winner, it soon became apparent who she was talking about: work in “design, public art and cross-cultural collaborative practices” that is “recognised locally, nationally, internationally” leads straight to Elliat Rich.
Her career “epitomises what you can achieve when you think big and commit with every fibre you have”, said Ms Snowdon. But she equally acknowledged Rich’s “humble and generous nature as a brilliant collaborator, advocate and ally for and to the Central Australian arts scene”.
“[Elliat's work] proves that our geography is not necessarily a boundary but perhaps a loyal and rich supporter, critical voice and necessary contributor.”
Doris Kngwarraye Stuart
Doris was honoured at the Saturday night event with special speeches presented by Kieran Finnane, Beth Sometimes and Dan Murphy.
Doris won the annual ‘Lofty Award’ for her:
integrity, generosity, humour and spirit, for her connection to country, inspiration and enabling, and contribution to many artists, art works and projects, for deepening understanding, contributing to and extending the contemporary cultural conversation in Central Australia and beyond.
- Dan Murphy
Kieran Finnane penned this article with more thoughts and information about her significant contributions: a worthwhile read in understanding the ecology of the arts in Mparntwe and the particular political stance Doris brings to her life work.
2016's trophy was made by Dan Murphy (WTS Chair in 2016), calling it a slightly "bodgie budgie".
Melissa Kerl's practice constantly surprises me by how inclusive of the audience it is. To date I've not witnessed a more non-threatening and innovative person who cleverly breaks down participatory barriers with the ever-growing scale of audiences at her showcases
- Aoife Milson
Kieran is an accomplished writer and journalist, and has reviewed countless exhibitions in our region providing a consistent and much needed critical analysis.
As Craig San Roque mentions in his nomination of Kieran for the award, “she has, over more than 20 years, consistently written on, commented upon, encouraged and reviewed Central Australian arts events. Her work has been intelligent, culturally informed, critical and constructive, and by its very consistency has provided local artists with a much-needed reflective mirror. Her quiet presence at events and her incisive, often fearless and also compassionate reviews have encouraged many of us, and offered critique of a high standard that we as local artists rarely experience. Her eulogy piece on Pam Lofts stands as a vital part of local history and testimony to Lofty.”
And from the judges Dan Murphy, Stephen Williamson, Leo Ortega and Shrike O’Malley:
Overall it was felt that Kieran had the strongest claim of this year’s nominations. This is due to her direct contribution to Watch This Space through writing many exhibitions held there and inviting people into this community arts space by articulating the philosophy behind a community arts space, giving coverage to emerging as well as established artists, and giving serious meaning to art shown at Watch This Space (and at other venues in Alice Springs) and opening up this dialogue with a broader audience through her articles on line and formerly in printed form.
Her reporting and documentation of cultural events in Alice Springs over a long period has produced a very valuable record of the richness of arts in this town, and through her own arts practice (poetry and prose) she has produced a body of work that is of and about this community.
Kieran has honoured and confirmed Watch This Space as a critical and serious cultural space in this town through her writing. Congratulations to Kieran as the 2013 Lofty Award recipient, and thanks to the people who contributed nominations to this year’s awards and to the other artists considered for this year’s award!
2013's beautiful LOFTY trophy was made by Julie and Steve Vincent.
David Nixon has made a significant contribution to Central Australia’s artistic and cultural life over a period of 22 years, by documenting and promoting the stories, events and activities of the people who live here. He has captured the essence of Central Australia’s cultural life and maintains a priceless archive of the history and development of the region’s artistic expression.
Franca has been a prolific artist in the Central Australian and wider arts community for more than 15 years. During this time, she has been deeply involved with WTS where her talents, passion and generosity have greatly contributed to the organisation’s life and development. Her work has not only supported us, but the wider Central Australian community.
The LOFTY award was set up to honour those who really stand out as key contributors to the cultural and artistic life in Central Australia. In 2011, we recognised Franca's work by awarding her the first ever Lofty Award.
The judges recognised Franca's extensive involvement in visual art exhibitions, short plays, performance of all kinds, the annual Cats Meow cabaret, Bite Sized Theatre, the list goes on. Watch This Space was very proud to be able to recognise Franca as such an important arts contributor to Alice Springs.
More about Franca Barraclough