Wynne Prize 2024: Art Gallery of New South Wales, Sydney

Juan Ford

7 Jun - 8 Sep 2024

Juan Ford’s ‘At the Peak’ 2023 has been selected as a finalist in the 2024 Wynne Prize.

The Wynne Prize is awarded annually for ‘the best landscape painting of Australian scenery in oils or watercolours or for the best example of figure sculpture by Australian artists’.

This painting depicts a temporary sculpture erected by Juan Ford on Victoria’s highest mountain, Warkwoolowler/Mount Bogong. Collecting litter during a nine-hour hike up the remote mountain, Ford assembled it into a sculpture at the summit, incorporating branches and foliage as well. The result was a rickety cairn, briefly extending the height of the peak.

Ford, who is a five-time Wynne finalist, explains that ‘such an absurd action is a recognition that for all our heedless actions and pollution (now found at the remotest corners of the Earth), we are insignificant before vast natural processes.’

Painted over a lengthy period from site drawings and photographs, the final work reveals no mountain vistas. We see only Ford’s assemblage against a wide blue sky – a meagre monument to contemporary human presence in a landscape he calls ‘huge and unknowable’.

Art Gallery of New South Wales