UQ Art Museum congratulates Jenny Orchard Winner of The University of Queensland National Self-Portrait Prize 2017

10 Nov 2017
Jenny Orchard pic
Jenny Orchard with her prize-winning artwork, Self Portrait as a Multispecies Activist 2017

Sydney-based artist Jenny Orchard has been awarded The University of Queensland’s 2017 National Self-Portrait Prize.


Erica Green, Director of the University of South Australia’s Anne and Gordon Samstag Museum of Art and Curator of the 2018 Adelaide Biennial of Australian Art, judged this year’s Prize. The announcement was made at the opening of the National Self-Portrait Prize exhibition at UQ Art Museum on Friday evening, 10 November.


Jenny Orchard
Self Portrait as a Multispecies Activist 2017
glazed earthenware with metal frame, feathers, wool and synthetic fibres, raffia and rubber
Courtesy of the artist and Beaver Galleries, Canberra. Photo: Carl Warner
Winner of The University of Queensland National Self-Portrait Prize 2017.

Artist’s Statement

Jenny Orchard makes figurative hybrid ceramics, totemic forms and vessels that explore liminal states of being while celebrating the diversity of material form.

A yearning for connection is at the heart of my ceramics and art practice. Connection with other people, but also with the world, the ecology, is the essence of my work.

Many components of the works are taken from moulds of plants, vegetables from the supermarket, tree rubbings, and debris from my garden. They are reminiscent of phytoplankton, the shapes of clouds, eyes that reflect back. I am fascinated by the idea of what the world would be for a chameleon, a fly, a mountain; these things have a life that I believe is part human. Because we experience them, our consciousness reaches out to them.

Empathy does not exist virtually, only in the consciousness of those who experience it. This is a word that has been scrawled across the front wall of my house for the past two decades; it’s a concept I feel strongly about. It’s naïve to believe empathy will save the world, but I choose to be wilfully naïve. Any of my ceramic creatures or totems could be a self-portrait, ‘this is how I am’, bits of everything.

— Jenny Orchard

UQ Art Museum Director Dr Campbell Gray said Glenn Barkley and Holly Williams of The Curators’ Department brought an eclectic and lively curatorial approach to this year’s Prize.

“The idea of a self-portrait provides artists with a unique opportunity to question themselves, their identities, their personalities and insecurities and, for many, to construct an image of themselves that they would otherwise probably never make.”

— Dr Campbell Gray

 The $50,000 invitation-only acquisitive prize is a biennial event. A list of participating artists in the 2017 Prize can be found here. Admission to the exhibition is free.

 The National Self-Portrait Prize is on show at the UQ Art Museum until 18 February 2018. View images of the 2017 NSPP artwork here.