Macquarie Bank &
The National Gallery of Australia
National Sculpture Prize
& Exhibition

People's Choice Award Winner
Ruth Downes' Tea Party in the Mayoral Garden

The National Gallery of Australia and Macquarie Bank announce the winner of the People's Choice award for the inaugural National Sculpture Prize and Exhibition, Ruth Downes' Tea Party in the Mayoral Garden.

There was a huge response to the People's Choice with several thousand votes collected. The overwhelming favourite was Ruth Downes' work, an engaging sculpture comprising forty imaginative individual cups and saucers. Downes' clever combination of materials and text is also imbued with humour and includes components such as GSTea, Amnestea, Frivolitea and A cup of tea, a Bex and a good lie down.

Ruth Downes will receive a prize of $2,000.

A prize of $1,000 will be drawn from among those who voted for Ruth Downes and the winner of this prize will be announced at the Gallery on Monday 25 February 2002.

The Sculpture Prize closes to the public on 10 March 2002. This exhibition, along with William Robinson: A retrospective, will be free to the public from Monday 25 February until Sunday 10 March 2002.

Other favourites selected by the voters include Ah Xian Human, Human - Lotus, Cloisonne Figure 1, Bronwyn Oliver Trace, Donna Marcus Teamwork 2, Lena Yarinkura My dogs, Lionel Bawden esque - thoughts brought forth by our fingers and Xiao Xian Liu Games.

Ruth Downes
born Australia 1954

Tea party in the Mayoral garden 2000-01
mixed media
multiple elements, dimensions variable
approximate installed size 170.0 x 400.0 x 400.0 cm

Artist's Statement
While developing my public artworks, I learnt the value of accessibility - that my sculptures should positively enliven and enrich our daily lives.

This sense of 'daily life' led me to look at the rituals in all our lives. Domestic paraphernalia has also absorbed and fascinated me, shared and familiar objects that could touch a diverse audience.

The rituals surrounding tea offered a vibrant and cohesive theme … The personal and intimate nature of the drinking vessel, 'the tea cup', and its supportive partner 'the saucer' was my ideal starting point.

I have enjoyed generating a sense of fun and humour by amalgamating unexpected materials, techniques and words.

Each of the forty completed works or 'characters' has developed a striking individuality, yet when assembled as a group at a Mayoral tea party they represent a community not unlike our own.

Ruth Downes 1 October 2001

Ruth Downes was born in Sydney in 1954. She studied interior design at the National Art School, Sydney, graduating in 1975. Downes has worked as an artist at the Australian Museum in Sydney and since 1988 has run her own business in public artwork, visual identity, exhibition and graphic design.

Between 1979 - 1986 Downes tutored in exhibition, furniture and interior design in the Faculty of Architecture at the University of Sydney. During this period she also studied traditional Chinese architecture and landscape architecture in China.

Since 1986 Downes has undertaken a number of major public art commissions throughout New South Wales. Some of her permanent public art works include a wrought steel sculpture and mosaic at the Charles Street Wharf, Parramatta 1996; concrete acoustic walls along the M4 motor-way, 1998; a stainless steel layered relief sculpture under James Ruse Drive bridge in Parramatta, 1998; and a water feature for Bicentennial Park, Homebush Bay, Sydney 2000.

Ruth Downes lives and works in Sydney.

For further information please email or contact:
Beatrice Gralton, Curatorial Assistant, National Gallery of Australia, phone +61 2 6240 6680
Helen Power, Public Affairs, National Gallery of Australia, phone +61 2 6240 6431
Lisa Jamieson, Macquarie Bank, phone +61 2 8232 6016