The SMFACA is one of the most prestigious awards in the visual arts sector in Australia, with a uniquely ceramic focus. It has evolved over its many year history. It began in 1991 as the Sidney Myer Fund Australia Day Ceramic Award, and evolved into the Sidney Myer Fund International Ceramic Art Award in 1997, with the aim of providing an unprecedented opportunity for a major international ceramic award and exhibition in Australia.
In 2019, the SMFACA was awarded to Lynda Draper for her presentation of eight ceramic works, Somnambulism.
The work entails a series of busts of kings and queens, their forms echoing the neoclassical statues discovered in grounds of a European palace, shrouded during the winter months to aid conservation. Monument-like, Draper places these new figures on tall white plinths. Their crisp whites, pearly pinks and pastel hues appear ghost-like and translucent, in contrast to the usual weightiness of bronze and concrete more commonly used for sculptures in parks and public spaces.
For the artist, Somnambulism, or sleepwalking, is the dream-space between conscious and unconscious thought. The title conjures a psychological space with echoes of the wintery parklands, gardens and decorative excesses of the Château du Versailles, on the outskirts of Paris, France, where Draper was recently an artist-in-residence.