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$25,000 Fisher’s Ghost art prize walks right out of here again

According to his own online profile, Kuba Dorabialski, the winner of this year’s $25,000 Fishers Ghost art prize, is interested in “the intersections of mysticism, radical leftist politics and the personal poetic’’.

Don’t ask me what all that means, I’m just a gonzo journalist from Campbelltown.

And certainly don’t ask me why the judges of this year’s prize awarded him the top honour.

I am certainly not going to criticise Kuba Dorabialski, whose only crime was that he submitted an entry into the 2019 competition.

His entry was a video installation titled The Glasses on My Nosetip, pictured above.

Three times I watched it to make sure I didn’t miss any exceptional artistic merit, any deep philosophical undertones.

For all I know, there may well be some hidden profound meaning in Mr Dorabialski’s film, in which he is seen walking past blocks of flats, then finishes in a theatre eating pop corn.

Walking: that’s basically it. He just walks and walks, slowing down now and again to make gestures or facial expressions and to touch the tip of his nose while looking at the camera.

Try as I might I could not understand what the judges saw in this film to award it the $25,000 prize over hundreds of other entries.

The artist himself listed his work for sale at $2,000.

Years ago when I worked at Fairfax Media I remember a conference workshop on journalism where we were warned against writing stories in a way that only other journalists would like.

I wonder if something like this may be happening here, where the judges are also artists or are part of the arts milieu.

Now if I were given the chance to be a judge on the Fisher’s Ghost art prize, the first entries I would rule out would be video installations.

They should be entered into video or film competitions and should have no part in an “art’’ competition like our Fisher’s Ghost, except maybe in a special category.

And having viewed all of the entries that made it into the exhibition now on the walls of the Campbelltown arts centre, my choice for a 2019 winner would have been Peter Gregson’s Tornado Series, which took out the $3,000 Macarthur category but deserved much more in my opinion.

Peter Gregson’s entry.

I said it earlier this year and I’m going to say it again, it’s a crying shame the Fisher’s Ghost prizemoney keeps going to an outsider – usually for works that would leave most locals cold.

It’s not just about the money of course: we want to encourage local artists in South West Sydney to produce works that tell our stories: where we have been, where we are and where we are headed.

It should go without saying that art should be democratic and appeal to as many people as possible.

It’s not too much to ask.

Speaking of asking, I did just that via phone and email, seeking the view of Campbelltown arts centre manager Michael Agostino.

Alas, he never got back to me.

But in the meantime, if you only visit the gallery once a year, make it the Fisher’s Ghost art prize.

I urge you to get down there and check out all the entries, there’s some great art in there.

If you do, take a look at the winning entries and let me know what you think.

  • The other 2019 winners were:

Contemporary: Rhonda Banks, The Universe, Our Life Around Us

Traditional: Samuel Massey, The Master

 Aboriginal Art Award: Dennis Golding, Redfern (The Block)

Sculpture: Min Wong, Karma is a bitch 

Photography: Kai Wasikowski, Garden #1

Macability Award:

Xeni Kusumitra, Dawn of my Day and Darkness of my Dream


Vanessa Biondi, Fisher’s Ghost

Emilia Wheatley, Birds of a Flutter

Thomas Willoughby, Bold Black Cockatoo


Danny Awad, Le Bron James 

Oboni Khan, Oranges Still Life

Omar Al-Zakholi, Now you see me

Jessica Spicer, I See You

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