Ben Ward - 65 year old Miriwonng elder wins the 2015 John Fries Award for emerging artists

Congratulations to Ben Ward - winner of the 2015 John Fries Award, for his painting Our Country! Ben is a respected Miriwoong elder, from the East Kimberly WA. At 65, he's the oldest John Fries Award finalist and also the first winner from Western Australia. Ben has only been painting for four years, but has developed his own distinctive style of using brightly coloured tessellating triangles to depict his local Miriwoong country. 

Ben Ward, Our Country, 2015, natural ochre on plywood, 122x240cm
Winner of the 2015 John Fries Award

Ben’s paintings tell of the landscape, stories and sacred sites flooded by the Lake Argyle Dam, Western Australia’s largest artificial lake, which was constructed near Kununurra in the east Kimberley in the early 1970s. video interview

Ben says, “I began painting to share my cultural knowledge with others. Art gives me an opportunity to express myself and tell the traditional Miriwoong stories. If you can’t get any messages out to the younger generations in the world about what this area is about, it’s good to put it in a painting … all that’s underwater now, and that’s what I paint. Everything that’s underwater, I remember every bit of it.” more about Ben Ward

New Zealand artist Kenneth Merrick was highly commended for his work Foiblemore about Kenneth Merrick

Many thanks to the judges, guest curator, JFA team, Viscopy board and Copyright Agency, my family, UNSW Galleries, our sponsors, the fabulous 15 finalists and all the 730 artists who entered this year!

The 2015 John Fries Award Finalists exhibition is on at UNSW Galleries Paddington until 10 October.

'A Jester's Whisper' 2015 John Fries Award exhibition catalogue - download