VCA alum Nina Sanadze wins 'the churchie' $15,000 art prize

Apotheosis (2021) by Nina Sanadze. Photo by Photo Joe Ruckli
Apotheosis (2021) by Nina Sanadze. Photo by Joe Ruckli

Graduate of the Bachelor of Fine Art (Hons) Nina Sanadze has been announced 2021 winner of ‘the churchie’ emerging art prize for her work Apotheosis (2021) at the Institute of Modern Art, Brisbane.

Georgian-born Sanadze’s winning sculptural artwork was constructed from the studio rubble of an eminent monument sculptor of the Soviet regime in Georgia (former USSR), Valentin Topuridze. Topuridze’s public sculptures were torn down in 1989 with the fall of the regime. To make Apotheosis, Sanadze utilised models, moulds and fragments from Topuridze’s studio.

Guest judge Rhana Devenport ONZM, Director of the Art Gallery of South Australia, selected Apotheosis as winner, describing it as a “tumbling concatenation of loss and hope.”

“Sanadze is compelled to respond to some of the great forces of our time—ideology, authority, monuments, conflict and survival—amidst the transient yet insistent fabric of memory, beauty and tenderness,” she says.

Sanadze graduated last year with a Bachelor of Fine Arts (Hons) from the Victorian College of the Arts, where her final work also explored appropriated original artefacts, replicas and documentary “to re-examine our grand political narratives from a diametric personal position”.

Sanadze has previously exhibited at Diane Singer Gallery, Bus Projects, Melbourne’s Living Museum of the West, Second Space Projects, and with the City of Port Phillip. She was the winner of the 2018 Incinerator Art Award: Art for Social Change, the 2019 Bus Projects Award, and the 2020 Victorian College of the Arts Graduate Show Fiona Myer Award.

Sanadze says a sense of urgency to respond to contemporary socio-political developments drives her creative practice.

“Humour and beauty allow me to address often disturbing concerns, reflecting the complex paradigm of our existence, which is simultaneously sublime and horrific,” she says.

Now in its 34th year, ‘the churchie’ is one of the country’s leading prizes for emerging artists, offering a $15,000 non-acquisitive cash prize. Apotheosis is currently being exhibited alongside the works of the other 14 churchie finalists at the Institute of Modern Art in Fortitude Valley in Brisbane, until 18 December 2021.