Last call for entries into North Queensland Ceramic Awards

Date published: 2 July 2024

“I almost didn’t believe it.”

This was the reaction of internationally-renowned ceramicist Sally Walk when she received a call in 2022 announcing she had won the North Queensland Ceramic Awards for her work A Little Off Centre.

The work was judged by Dianne Peach and awarded the $10,000 acquisitive prize, being added to the City of Townsville Art Collection.

Now the Melbourne-based artist is urging other ceramicists to submit for the awards before applications close on 16 July 2024.

Ms Walk has previously achieved first prize at The Florence Biennale but said “nothing is quite the same as recognition in your own country”.

“I was incredibly excited and humbled to win the award,” she said.

“The North Queensland Ceramic Award is well known and attracts high calibre and well-respected ceramic artists. It was so incredible to be shortlisted, let alone to win. I almost didn't believe it.

“Ceramics has been a love affair since I was 16. I started my Bachelor of Art (Ceramic Design) when I was 17 years old at Monash University. Mostly I love the adaptability of the material, the grounding connection to the earth, and the incredible ceramics artists family. I also find clay incredibly relaxing with endless possibilities.

Ms Walk said her winning piece represented the post-COVID period when she reassessed her approach to her art.

“It was a time when I chose to let go of attempts of perfection, from a technique perspective in my work, which was very freeing. It is delightful to think that a work that is important to me is part of a wonderful art collection,” she said.

“Australia has a strong and ever-expanding ceramic practice and we are certainly developing a unique Australian voice.

“To exhibit alongside such exceptional Australian artists feels special, and the award is something I am especially proud of.”

Ms Walk is a member of the International Academy of Ceramics (IAC), an official partner of the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organisation (UNESCO).

The artist said being a member of the academy was a “wonderful opportunity” that helped broaden her perspective on her art practice.

“The IAC is a prestigious group of some of the world's most active ceramic artists. For me, the connection with artists from all over the world has been invaluable,” Ms Walk said.

“Aside from the wonderful friendships, it has also boosted my resume when applying for international residency opportunities.

“Of most importance to me is the chance to learn new ideas and thinking in ceramics from a huge collection of different countries. It has been the most wonderful opportunity.”

As for the North Queensland Ceramic Awards 2024? Well, Ms Walk has a little something up her sleeve.

“Just looking at the lists of well-known artists, alongside up-and-coming artists, shows that (the North Queensland Ceramic Awards) elevates ceramics in Australia. It is a professionally curated show giving clay the kudos it deserves,” she said.

“I hope to enter the award again, and I am working on a new series of sculptural ceramic artworks.”

Councillor Ann-Maree Greaney said it was great to have such well-recognised artists vying for the top spot at this year’s North Queensland Ceramic Awards.

“Townsville is certainly very proud of its position as the arts and events capital of Northern Australia,” Cr Greaney said.

“The North Queensland Ceramic Awards is one of the country’s leading ceramics prizes and we’re thrilled to have it back at Perc Tucker Regional Gallery again this year.

“This biennial art competition attracts established artists from across the country and internationally, as well as local artists. This is just one way that Council is working to provide opportunities for the local artists to grow their practice and exhibit in our world-class visual art facility.

“I’m looking forward to seeing the works on show when the North Queensland Ceramic Awards exhibition opens in October.”

The North Queensland Ceramic Awards will run from 18 October 2024 to 2 February 2025 at Perc Tucker Regional Gallery.

Applications for the North Queensland Ceramic Awards close on 16 July 2024. For more information on applying, head to North Queensland Ceramic Awards.

Ceramicist Sally Walk won the North Queensland Ceramic Awards in 2022 with her piece A Little Off Centre
Caption: Ceramicist Sally Walk won the North Queensland Ceramic Awards in 2022 with her piece 'A Little Off Centre'.