Time to take a front seat

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Congratulations to Simone LeAmon for winning the 2009 Cicely & Colin Rigg Contemporary Design Award which opened at the National Gallery of Victoria last night. Her Lepidoptera chair continues the creative use of recycled materials that she had forged in her classic Bowling Arm bracelets.

Other entrants included Adam Cornish, Lambie Chan, Lucas Chirnside, Matthew Harding, Cathy Jankowsky, Joseph Keenan, Jacqueline Ying Jun Lin, Chris Connell, Stuart McFarlane, Ross McLeod, Drew Martin & Dale Rock (Rock Martin), Oliver Field, and Helen Kontouris.

Congratulations to all, but there are concerns.

This year’s award continue the NGV’s presentation of the Rigg award as an exhibition of ‘contemporary design’. Previous media have included ceramics, jewellery, hollowware and textiles. Presenting these in purely ‘design’ terms has the effect of focussing attention on the cleverness and fashion. It tends to marginalise more cultural issues expressed through the language of materials. In a country like Australia, wood has great power as a symbol of identity. 

Let’s hope that the next iteration of the Cicely & Colin Rigg award brings craft back into the equation. Design hardly lacks for recognition in our world. And the global financial crisis demands that we reconsider our own skills and culture. Maybe the 2011 Cicely & Colin Rigg Craft & Design Award will be for glass. I’ll drink to that.

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