17 May 2024

Emerging Canberra glass artist cracks it with prestigious national award

| Sally Hopman
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Emeirely Nucifora-Ryan working in art glass studio

Award-winning Canberra glass artist Emeirely Nucifora-Ryan works on her art. Photo: Tom Glassey.

When 29-year-old Canberra artist Emeirely Nucifora-Ryan won the David Henshall Emerging Artist Prize, one of the first people she wanted to thank was her high school art teacher.

The highly coveted award, which she won for her neon work Processed, is about as good as it gets in the world of glass sculpture. And for Emeirely, it took a while to take it all in.

“It still doesn’t feel real,” she said of the FUSE prize.

What does feel real is believing she would not have arrived at this place in her career without the support and encouragement of her Year 12 art teacher, Anita Briedis from Hawker College.

“She is an incredible woman and today is a great friend,” Emeirely said.

“She encouraged me so much. I was lucky enough to do some work experience so I got a bit of an idea of what was expected of me. I had trouble deciding what medium was right for me, and she helped me so much.”

Emeirely, an honours graduate of the Australian National University School of Art and Design, created her artistic practice in neon after she participated in Canberra Glassworks Neon Green Futures Masterclass with Richard Wheater.

For her efforts, she received $5000 plus a professional development opportunity at the JamFactory in South Australia, valued at $5000.

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“I just love working with glass, but since I started working with neon, there’s no turning back,” she said. “It is more exciting being able to create light, it’s so magical.

“With glass, it can be a strange material to work with because you have to understand its fragility and its strength, especially when you’re working with glass in a flexible state. It has these beautiful, physical qualities that can capture, transmit and refract light.”

Emeirely said her award-winning work, Processed, took more than seven months to create. She made the piece using a collection of glass tubing all made by hand, bending them to create a series of circular tubes which she filled with an inert gas. She worked in her home studio as well as using the facilities of the Canberra Glassworks.

The FUSE non-acquisitive $20,000 cash prize was awarded to former Canberra artist Tom Moore for his installation Dandy Lion among the Antipodes (Handsome Duckling, Sweet Boots, Quadravian Cyclops, Dandy Lion & Kohl Canary), 2022 & 2023.

red neon light installation

Emeirely Nucifora-Ryan’s award- winning neon work Processed has won the 2024 FUSE Emerging Artist award. Photo: Brenton McGeachie.

His touring exhibition, JamFactory Abundant Wonder, was shown at Canberra Museum and Gallery late 2022.

The works of 12 established and six emerging artists were selected as finalists by the 2024 judging panel, which included Canberra Glassworks artistic director Aimee Frodsham, Queanbeyan-based 2022 FUSE Glass Prize winner Matthew Curtis, and representatives from JamFactory, Museum of New Zealand Te Papa Tongarewa, and Art Gallery of South Australia.

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“It was incredible to see such strong and diverse works in the 2024 Fuse Prize,” Ms Frodsham said.

“The standard of works was truly inspiring, making judging extremely difficult. All the works presented could easily have taken out the prize.

“In the emerging catalogue, Emeirely’s neon work shows the future of glass making in Australia and is both conceptually considered and technically strong.”

The FUSE Glass Prize 2024 exhibition will showcase the winning artworks by Tom Moore and Emeirely Nucifora-Ryan alongside finalists including Annette Blair (NSW), Hannah Gason (ACT), Katie-Ann Houghton (ACT), Kirstie Rea (ACT), Mel Douglas (ACT), Carman Skeehan (SA), and Madeline Cardone (NSW), at the ANU School of Art and Design gallery, Canberra from 8 August – 6 September 2024.

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Capital Retro7:39 pm 18 May 24

Lot’s of fossil fuel gas bottles needed for this craft so it’s not really sustainable is it?

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