Exhibition News

Lisa Roet Wins the $100,000 McClelland Award 2005

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Published Monday, November 14, 2005

One of the richest art awards in Australia was awarded to Lisa Roet, an artist that has made the plight of chimpanzees in literature, science and fantasy the subject of her work for a number of years.

Rupert Murdoch yesterday awarded Melbourne sculptor, Lisa Roet, the biennial $100,000 McClelland Award for her work, White Ape. An acquisitive prize, the work, exhibited as part of the McClelland Contemporary Sculpture Survey 2005, is now permanently sited in the grounds of the McClelland Gallery + Sculpture Park.

Over the past 12 years I have been working on a series of works which are the culmination of my research into man's relationship with our closest animal relatives, the apes, says Lisa. This work equates the ape with great leaders or highly esteemed Noblemen, bestowing it with regal stature and intellectual posture. White Ape reflects upon human nature's vicarious position within the animal world. Our contribution to the environment that we live in and can be seen as a monument to our achievements, or as a reminder of the destruction of our environment. In his 1887 work ‘Gorilla carrying off a woman’, the French artist Emmanuel Fremiet reflected upon Charles Darwin’s controversial theory of evolution and the changing debate on human origins. I hope White Ape will reflect our own contemporary debate on genetics, evolution and environment, she adds.

White Ape by Lisa Roet

White Ape is part of Roet’s ongoing project Pri-Mates, which has been extensively exhibited internationally over the past 10 years and was awarded the National Gallery of Australia/Macquarie Bank National Sculpture Prize in 2003.

Roet exhibited Chimpanzee Finger in the 2003 McClelland Sculpture Award - a rather curious piece consisting of a detatched monkey finger emerging out of the soil - as if it was asking a question. It was certainly provocative enough to make those of us that saw it take note.

Turning to Roet's web site for more information about White Ape, she states that it derived from the following incident:
... while I was working at the Antwerp Zoo (Belgium) on the Ape and The Bunnyman series, I concentrated on one particular chimp. Several months after this body of work was completed I received a phone call from a taxidermist who asked me to visit his studio as he had something to show me. He had been asked to stuff a chimpanzee that had died at the Antwerp Zoo to be placed in the Brussels Museum. He pulled the dead chimpanzee from the freezer - at this moment I recognised it as being the chimp I had worked with for Ape and The Bunnyman.

I decided to immortalise this chimp by making a death mask of it, and turning this into a Roman Scholarly type bust called White Ape.

Lisa Roet was born in Melbourne in 1967 and obtained a Bachelor of Fine Arts from RMIT, Melbourne in 1987. Over the past 10 years she has had various collaborations and residencies with major international zoos, primate research institutes and conducted personal research of apes within the wild. Her drawings, sculpture, computer generated photography, video and sound installations have been exhibited extensively within Australia and internationally since 1997, including Ape and the Bunnyman, LibemanMangan Gallery, New York (1998), Shaded Man, Kuala Lumpur National Gallery, Kuala Lumpur (2000), Pacific Rim: Flowers of the World, Premorosky State Museum, Vladivostock, Russia (1998), Primavera, Museum of Contemporary Art, Sydney (2000), the McClelland Survey, McClelland Gallery+Sculpture Park (2003), Instinct, Monash Museum of Art, Monash University, Melbourne (2004) and Lisa Roet: Finger of Suspicion, McClelland Gallery+Sculpture Park (2004).

In 2003 she was the winner of the National Works on Paper Prize, Mornington Peninsula Regional Gallery, and the National Sculpture Prize, National Gallery of Australia, Canberra. Lisa Roet currently lives and works in Saint Andrews Beach, Victoria. She is represented by Karen Woodbury Gallery, Melbourne.

The judge for this year’s McClelland Award was Dr Peter Murray, Director of the Yorkshire Sculpture Park in the UK.

The 38 artists (35 sculptures) in the Survey are also eligible for the $15,000 Frankston City Award which will be judged by visitors to the Survey and the winner announced on Sunday 28th May 2006. The artists are: Tom Arthur, Ashika, Stephen Birch, Peter Blizzard, Jessie Cacchillo & Craig Waddell, Carla Cescon, Endra Che-Kahn & Marco Mattucci, Philip Cooper, Kate Cullity with Ryan Sims, Darren Davison, William Eicholtz, Richard Goodwin, Nigel Harrison, Paul Hay, Nigel Helyer, David Howell, Greg Johns, John Kelly, Yvonne Kendall, Jarrad Kennedy, Roman Liebach, Donna Marcus, Clive Murray-White, John Nicholson, Adrian Page, James Parrett, Louis Pratt, Phil Price, Andrew Rogers, Anne Ross, Alexander Seton, Maria Sierra, Laurens Tan and David Wilson.

More information:

  • Lisa Roet’s web site:
  • McClelland Gallery & Sculpture Park:
  • McClelland Gallery + Sculpture Park
    390 McClelland Drive, Langwarrin [MELWAYS 103 E3]
    Ph: 03 9789 1671
    www.mcclellandgallery.com for associated public programs and art lectures
    Hours: Tues – Sun 10.30am – 5.30pm
    Closed Mondays and some public holidays.
    Entry: by donation

    Sourced from the McClelland Gallery Press Release with some additions by Martin Shub.

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