Elizabeth Willing (QLD) has received the inaugural Judy Wheeler Commission to produce a site-specific work for the Perth Institute of Contemporary Arts (PICA) in 2023.
Willing’s work will respond to PICA’s entrance, defining how visitors engage with the space as they step in from Perth’s vibrant cultural centre.
Supported by a $300,000 gift from the Simpson family, the Judy Wheeler Commission funds an annual site-specific work by an Australian-based visual artist that responds to the architecture and history of PICA’s building and site, running over a 10-year period.
The panel, consisting of Danjoo Koorliny Co-Director Carol Innes; Curtin University’s Director of Engagement, Impact and Indigenous School of Media, Creative Arts and Social Inquiry Dr Christina Chau; UNSW Galleries Director José Da Silva; and PICA Curator Sarah Wall, shortlisted proposals from over 40 entries with the final selection made by PICA’s programming and exhibition teams.
The inaugural recipient, Willing, has developed a reputation for transforming the way we think about food and contemporary art – creating thoughtful, multisensory works where food is simultaneously medium and subject.
With her practice’s strong connections to food and hospitality, Willing embraced PICA’s institutional entrance way as a meaningful gesture that acts both as a physical entrance and a space that performs the “welcome of hospitality”.
“The Wheeler Commission is an exceptional platform for creating new art in collaboration with a prominent art institution. Accepting the inaugural commission is a privilege, and I appreciate the trust placed in me by the selection panel and PICA,” Willing said.
“My artwork for the Wheeler Commission is closely linked to the architecture and sensory experience of the site, while remaining anchored in my ongoing investigations of hospitality.”
“Visitors who cross this threshold are choosing to take in and digest uncommon experiences.”
Engaging with PICA’s entrance, Willing will develop a large-scale textile work that delves into the Perth locale’s olfactory and sensory offerings, such as the nearby Derbarl Yerrigan (Swan River), botanic gardens, and wine region. From these explorations she will create an inventory of symbols that form their own performative, multisensory lexicon.
PICA Curator Sarah Wall said: “We selected Elizabeth for her compelling proposal that explores the topic of hospitality, at an individual as well as institutional level.”
“Inspired by the architecture of the gallery’s entrance way, her proposal promises to engage both the building and audiences in surprising and thought-provoking ways. We could not be more excited to be working with Elizabeth on realising her commission at PICA.”
PICA Director Amy Barrett-Lennard said the inaugural commission marked a significant turning point for PICA as an institution and Perth as a cultural city.
“Thanks to the Simpson family’s generous gift of $300,000 – the largest in PICA’s history – PICA will work with a new artist annually to activate spaces that are not typically seen as gallery spaces yet define visitors’ experiences as they enter and exit the building, such as the entrance lobby, foyer and stairwell,” Barrett-Lennard said.
PICA will work with Willing to develop the work throughout July to December this year.
The inaugural commission will be launched in February 2023 and will remain in place for a one-year period.
Image: Elizabeth Willing, Strawberry Thief, 2018, image courtesy Museum Of Brisbane, photo: David Kelly
About Elizabeth Willing
Elizabeth Willing is a Brisbane-based visual artist whose works are performative and often participatory explorations of food and hosting. Primarily working in sculpture, installation, and performance, Willing’s work additionally takes the form of concept dinners, collaborative performances that use the dining table as stage for interactive designs and experiences.
Willing has undertaken professional development mentorships in New York with Janine Antoni (2011), with the Experimental Food Society in London (2012) and then with Thomas Rentmeister in Berlin (2014). In 2019 she completed a Masters of Fine Art (research) at Queensland University of Technology.
In 2014 Willing was the recipient of the Australia Council Kunstlerhaus Bethanien one-year residency. Furthermore, Willing has undertaken residencies at Helsinki International Art Program HIAP (2015), New England Regional art Museum Armidale (2018), The Australian Wine Research Institute in Adelaide (2019), Museum of Brisbane (2020), and Metro Arts (2022).
Exhibitions and concept meals have been held in Australia and overseas at The Museum of Contemporary Art Sydney, Kunstlerhaus Bethanien Berlin, Trapholt Museum of Art and Design Denmark, Tinguely Museum Basel, and Gallery of Modern Art Brisbane.
Elizabeth Willing is represented by Tolarno Galleries Melbourne.
About the Judy Wheeler Commission
The Judy Wheeler Commission is a 10-year site-specific commissioning program in memory of the late Judy Wheeler. A significant gift of $300,000, the largest in PICA’s history, funds an annual commission of a site-specific work by an Australian based visual artist that responds physically or conceptually to the architecture and history of the PICA building and its site, and embodies PICA’s spirit of risk and experimentation.
Through the Commission, PICA’s ambition will activate spaces that visitors enter and move through when they visit the PICA building, including its entrance lobby, foyer and stairwells. Each commission will be installed for up to a one-year period, commencing February 2023.
The Commission is open annually to all Australian-based visual artists, at any stage of their career and whose mediums might include, but not be limited to, painting, sculpture, sound and video.
2022 Selection Panel
Danjoo Koorliny Co-Director
Dr Christina Chau
Curtin University (Faculty of Humanities)
Director, Engagement, Impact and Indigenous School of Media, Creative Arts and Social Inquiry
José Da Silva
UNSW Galleries Director
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