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Art for Change Prize: Meet the Judges for Australia

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Global creative company M&C Saatchi Group and London’s iconic Saatchi Gallery have launched a new annual international art initiative – the Art for Change Prize. Meet the three creative powerhouses judging entries in Australia

Art for Change Prize: Meet the Judges for Australia

As part of a shared mission in making art, culture, and creativity accessible to everyone, this prize will stimulate dialogue around visual arts as a medium for positive global and social change and give exposure to emerging artists worldwide. 

Six winners from around the world will be decided by some of the best business and creative minds from the M&C Saatchi Group globally and eminent guest judges. In this Art for Change series, we hear from our regional judges. Find out what makes them tick artistically, what equality means to them, and what they are looking for in our winners.

Introducing our judges for Australia: Emma Robbins, national executive creative director at M&C Saatchi Australia, Sharon Edmondston, creative director at M&C Saatchi Sydney, Blak Douglas, Artist and 2022 Archibald Prize winner.


1. Describe yourself in 3 emojis.

Emma>  🤘💥🐯

Sharon> 🌈⚡️🦄

Blak> 👣 🎩 💣


2. How would you explain your job to a child?

Emma> I get paid to make things up. 

Sharon> Every day I get to play, discover and create my own destiny. On occasion I get to travel the world, but on a normal day, I meet really interesting and talented people who teach me new ways to see the world. I get to work alongside them to tell stories that a lot of people see. It's a privilege to be able to do what I do.

Blak> I make pictures that many people don't like to look at.


3. Tell us what inspires you.

Emma> Fixing problems or challenges with humanity and creativity. 

Sharon> I believe true inspiration leads to the thoughts and feelings that demand action. So, I'll have to say bravery. Standing up, speaking out, putting yourself out there. Making the hard choice. It's impossible to not be inspired by that. It makes you wonder 'what's stopping me'? 

Blak> Being suppressed within one of the youngest colonies on the planet.


4. What excites you most about the Art for Change Prize?

Emma> I love to help emerging creative people emerge in a world where it's sometimes really hard to. 

Sharon> Unearthing talent in a powerful context. We talk a lot about diversity of thought and the immeasurable value of it in commercial creativity, but it's the art world that really leads the way when it comes to seismic cultural change. The Art for Change Prize is a real action, that will inspire real change and it's an amazing way to tap into a world of creative insights around an important theme. 

Blak> The fact that ART is the visual reminder for ‘change’.


5. This year’s theme is ‘Equality’. What does ‘Equality’ mean to you?

Emma> That we eradicate hate, better than, egos and exaggerated opinion from every rounded corner of the planet. 

Sharon> Understanding, empathy and effort. A level playing field simply does not and will not exist because life is diverse and so is opportunity. Equality to me happens when there is a willingness and capability to navigate the challenges standing in the way of opportunity. It requires us to truly listen, then actively embrace new concepts, insights and ways of thinking & doing to close the gaps as much as humanly possible. 

Blak> Egalitarianism on ALL accounts. 


6. You’re judging entries from Australia. What will you be looking for as a judge?

Emma> Art that makes me feel a feeling about equality in my heart, head or stomach  

Sharon> I'm looking to be surprised. I want to feel a connection to the work, but at the same time, I want to feel like I'm experiencing something I've never felt before. Art is a powerful teacher. It has a way of conveying deeply personal experiences in unprecedented ways. I'm looking for a story that should have, but has never been told, presented to me in a way that gets under my skin. 

Blak> The 'left field' daring.


7. What does art for change mean to you?

Emma> A chance for emerging artists to be seen and recognised. 

Sharon> There is an exhilarating energy around undiscovered talent. The thrill of the new coupled with the magic of potential. Art for Change shines a light on hidden talent that the world needs to see. It's a beautiful thing.

Blak> Holding conservatism to account.


8. If you could steal one artwork from art history, what would it be?

Emma> Brett Whitely, The American Dream. 

Sharon> It'd have to be one of Takashi Murakami's Mr DOB's. I remember first seeing his '94 version plastered around Brisbane to promote the second Asia-Pacific Triennial of Contemporary Art in '96 and it instantly captivated me. When I was in its presence its scale and vibrancy gave me some kind of weird energy. As Murakami has evolved this ironic self-portrait over the years, each iteration holds the same allure with his commentary of western and Japanese consumerism getting more twisted and distorted. Maybe a lifetime of pop culture has seeped into my psyche making me feel so connected to this art, or maybe it's just really really cool.

Blak> The Last Supper by Leonardo da Vinci.

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M&C Saatchi Australia Group, Tue, 01 Nov 2022 09:10:57 GMT