In December 2006 Byron Bay artist, John Dahlsen was awarded the runner up prize of $20,000.00 in Australia’s newest, and at the time, the richest art award, The Signature of Sydney Art Prize.
Mr Tony Bond from the Art Gallery of New South Wales, one of the judges of the award, handed John his prize and congratulations at the award ceremony and announcement on Tuesday 12th December.
The gala evening, which was held at the Wentworth Sofitel in Sydney, was attended by over 600 of Sydney’s most prominent business people who were involved in the event, by their companies each pledging $2,000.00 to participate.
In responding to the brief for this prize, which was to also include up to 492 logos of the participating businesses in the artwork, Dahlsen saw this environmental assemblage artwork also as a representation of our multicultural melting pot and a reminder of human behaviour.
The work, which measures 3 metres wide x 1.5 metres high, presents a birds eye view of a large assemblage of over 1000 recycled thongs, as a high-resolution digital print on canvas. He collected each of the thongs, mainly from our more remote beaches, after they had been washed up or discarded somewhere along the eastern seaboard.
The print was made using latest technology by photographing a series of 12 individual large format transparencies of the assemblage of thongs, which were drum scanned and digitally stitched together, to form a high resolution file suitable for printing the highest quality image.
Dahlsen’s artwork was auctioned during the evening and the money raised from the sale of the work was donated to charity. All moneys raised from the event was donated to “The Make A Wish Foundation.”
In an article titled "Artwork Has Soul", Lismore Regional Gallery Director, Steven Alderton wrote:
"John Dahlsen's "Thongs" artwork is about people community and soul. The work could be seen as people portraying the many people from all walks of life that have landed on the East coast of Australia and found their way to Sydney, mixing together to form one great big heap just like Sydney.
The beauty of this work is you can see the soul of Sydneysiders. Many people living on the coast define themselves with the beach lifestyle. It is their passion. The havianas, or thongs, have become part of the laidback look of much of Sydney. Dahlsen's artworks have long been made from detritius found on the beach. By presenting the discarded objects in a formalist composition he acknowledges the endless waste in producing multiple items, that go to support our everyday existance."
Northern Star Newspaper - December 16th 2006