Melbourne artist Deanna Hitti has taken the coveted first prize in this year’s Fremantle Arts Centre Print Award supported by Little Creatures Brewing for her work TOWLA. She takes out $16,000 in prize money and the print will be acquired by the City of Fremantle Art Collection.

Deanna Hitti, TOWLA, 2017, Artist Book Screen Printed, 34 × 53 (when book open) × 4cm

Deanna Hitti, TOWLA, 2017, Artist Book
Screen Printed, 34 × 53 (when book open) × 4cm

This year’s judging panel – Lisa Roet (WA), Ron Bradfield (WA) and Charlotte Hickson (WA) praised the work and said, “TOWLA presents a dialogue between her father’s homeland in Lebanon and his adopted country through which the artist articulates the joys and challenges of growing up bi-culturally in Australia. This work is a caretaker of memory that carries forward and shares the imprint of a family history.” about the artist

Hitti is an Australian artist of Lebanese heritage. Her artist books have been recipients of major Australian Artist Book awards including The Libris Award. Hitti’s works have also been short listed in numerous Australian art prizes and she has exhibited nationally and internationally in group and solo shows. Over last three
years, Hitti has undertaken extensive research through artist residencies in Australia, China, Venice and Lebanon. Her works have been acquired by major Australian
collections including The State Library of Victoria and The National Library of Australia.

Hitti’s late father, Antonios El Hitti was a migrant from Lebanon. This work serves as a homage to the pairs daily practice of playing backgammon or táwla when Hitti was
a child. The pages hold Antonios El Hitti’s instructions for backgammon phonetically transcribed in both the Arabic and Latin alphabet. The artist explains that, “The Arabic letters spell the instructions in English and the Latin letters spell the instructions in Arabic.

Queensland artist Fiona Elisala has taken out second prize for her work Uman. She receives a $6,000 cash prize. “Across the two days of judging we each found ourselves returning to the work of Fiona Elisala. Both Hitti’s TOWLA and Elisala’s Uman are works that offer an invitation to understand the experiences of these artists and how their practices record and maintain heritage and traditions that are shared within communities across generations,” said the judges.

Fiona Elisala, Uman, 2018, Lino Cut Print, 120 × 81cm

Fiona Elisala, Uman, 2018, Lino Cut Print, 120 × 81cm

Fiona Elisala is an emerging artist and Torres Strait Islander woman who uses printmaking as a platform for sharing her values, beliefs and unique identity. Elisala believes that it is these values that “can impact the lives of our family, community and who we are as individuals. Art is my tool for retaining and retelling the stories of my
people and culture”.

Uman is a documentation of three generations of women practicing weaving. Elisala’s grandmother taught her how to weave and this forms part of her practice along with
linocut, etching, and screen-printing. For Elisala these practices are daily reinforcements of her cultural identity and the building blocks of her community. The basket at the bottom of the image represents the collective knowledge that is shared when gathering together, it is a vessel that cares for and retains the past for the future.

Highly Commended

Amy Perejuan-Capone (WA), holding breath, 2018
AHC McDonald (WA), Angel Under The Solandra Vine, 2018
Jamie Powell (VIC), Inverse Variation, 2017
Garth Henderson (VIC), constructive_botanics/banksia_grandis 02, 2017