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McClelland Sculpture Park+Gallery is celebrating its 50 Anniversary from May 3 with a stellar program of exhibitions, a series of major art prizes and publication of a commemorative book. Director, Lisa Byrne, says 50 years is a major achievement for any arts organisation, and well worth celebrating. “We are very much part of the local community and want to give our friends and visitors plenty of opportunities to help celebrate our 50th birthday with us,” Ms Byrne said.

The 50th anniversary year has kicked off with the important sonic exhibition, Site & Sound: sonic art as ecological practice, curated by Jon Buckingham, Lawrence Harvey, and Simon Lawrie (1 December 2020 – 3 May 2021). The exhibition addresses sound as a spatial medium, both within and beyond the gallery. With a focus on field recordings, it explores the conceptual and material relationship between culture and nature through sound, and the ecological implications of this work in a contemporary context.

It’s an exciting year for the whole team at McClelland and we look forward to sharing the excitement with visitors and friends – Lisa Byrne

Celebrating the 50 years of McClelland’s Art Collection, an exhibition showcasing a selected grouping of the collection through the years, will feature across the winter and early Spring. Works will include hyper-realist sculptures such by Ron Mueck and Patricia Piccinini, works inspired by traditional crafts from Sanné Mestrom and Lisa Waup, as well as large-scale photography by Stephen Haley and Simon Terrill.

And the year will conclude with an exhibition of works by renowned Centre 5 modernist sculptors Norma Redpath and Inge King along with contemporary Australian female sculptors who expand on the tradition of Australian modernist sculpture. Female Form: Inge King, Norma Redpath & Contemporary Female Sculptors (20 November 2021 - 13 March 2022). The exhibition will recognise the significant role that female artists have and continue to play in the development of Australian spatial practice.

A feature of the anniversary year will be a series of art prizes; Splash Watercolour Award 2021 / Senini Student Award (ceramics) / Rick Amor Drawing Award (28 August – 7 November 2021). McClelland is inviting submissions from contemporary artists and art students for the suite of awards in 2021. We are currently calling for entries for the Rick Amor Drawing Award, the Splash McClelland Contemporary Watercolour Award and the Senini Award for Ceramics by tertiary students.

A total of $55,000 will be awarded to artists for works in the mediums of drawing, watercolour and ceramics, with funds generously provided by the Fornari Bequest, artist Rick Amor, and Mary and Lou Senini. One prize of $20,000 will be awarded for the most worthy drawing (Rick Amor Drawing Award), three prizes of $10,000 will be awarded for works in watercolour (Splash Contemporary Watercolour Award) and $3,000 will be awarded to a tertiary art student for a ceramic work, courtesy of Mary and Lou Senini. There will also be a People's Choice Award for both the Rick Amor Drawing Award and the Splash Watercolour Award, valued at $1,000 each.

The shortlisted works for each of the prizes will be shown at McClelland from 28 August to 7 November 2021. The call for submissions is open from 28 May 2020 to 28 May 2021. This earlier call for entries is intended to allow artists more time to create new work and takes into account the current challenging climate for artists due to COVID-19.

During 2021 McClelland will also launch its Small Sculpture Limited Edition Program featuring eight artists’ works as a way of promoting special practice and supporting artists. This follows the successful inaugural, non-acquisitive McClelland National Small Sculpture Awards 2020 initiated last August for domestic scale works offered for sale to support artists during the Covid period. And finally, Dr Jane Eckett, art historian, curator and Postdoctoral Research Associate in the School of Culture and Communication at the University of Melbourne, has been engaged to edit a 50th anniversary commemorative book on McClelland and the art, design and social history of Frankston and surrounds.

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