Primavera is the MCA’s annual showcase of emerging creatives aged 35 years and under. The exhibition features artists who represent current trends or styles emerging in the next generation of artists. Gold is one of only five artists selected nationally for the show in 2021.

Each year the MCA invites an artist or curator to take the reins, with Melbourne-based Aboriginal curator Hannah Presley coming on board for 2021. Primavera 2021: Young Australian Artists has a focus on the multi-faceted concept of resourcefulness, with this year’s five participants exploring ideas of sustainability and ingenuity within their practice.

For Gold, this translates in the pinch-style coiled sculptures and vessels that have become synonymous with their name. The resulting works are landscapes of gesture and repetition that use “the body as a tool and the clay as a site to document”.

Sam Gold with multi-disciplinary artist Mark Valenzuela. Photo: Lou Cresp

“I am exploring ideas of the land in our bodies, the holding of memory in our cells, and innately looking at the act of making as a cathartic process for healing lived experiences,” says Gold.

“There is a reason why the sedimentary layers and repetitive patterns in my work mimic natural expressions like stalactites, rocks, coral and anthills. These metaphors, I feel, are of the home, the land of ourselves, the land in our bodies.”

For Primavera, Gold will be building their most ambitious showcase to date, with the scale of the works necessitating them to undertake a mentorship to learn the specialised skills required to operate a cantankerous giant gas kiln named Big Bernard.

Gold used a Helpmann Academy Creative Investment Fellowship (Supported by the James and Diana Ramsay Foundation and valued at up to $10,000) to partner with multi-disciplinary artist Mark Valenzuela on the project, and in the process was able to tick a career goal off their list.

“I’ve been wanting to shift to firing in gas kilns, not electric, a long-term goal within my practice,” says Gold. “Thanks to the Creative Investment Fellowship, I was able to focus on making the work, firing with a supportive team, building a relationship with a leading art professional in my field and investing in my practice in a major way.

“This mentorship is significant, because I literally could not have achieved the physical, creative and professional outcomes without it.”

It’s been a meteoric rise for Gold, who started their creative career in 2019 at the Helpmann Academy Graduate Exhibition after graduating from the University of South Australia in 2018. In two short years, Gold has won multiple awards for their craft (including the Undergraduate Award for Excellence supported by Roger and Helen Salkeld and The JamFactory Award at the 2019 Helpmann Graduate Exhibition) and exhibited in shows in notable galleries in South Australia, the ACT, Tasmania and New South Wales. In August 2021 it was announced that they joined Hugo Michell Gallery as a represented artist.

Primavera marks an exciting development for Gold, as a significant platform to present their work to a national audience. Past recipients such as Abdul Abdullah (Primavera 2015), David Noonan (Primavera 1999), Mikala Dwyer (Primavera 1992) and Pedro Wonaeamirri (Primavera 2005) have gone on to achieve international acclaim.

Its gravitas is not lost on Gold, who says the nod has been “surreal, but also a huge honour”.

“You are on the ground and often holding down several jobs and managing basically two full-time roles, so the opportunities that this exhibition represents, along with the support of Helpmann, is insurmountable.”

Sam Gold, Of little words thousands of little words, 2021, scarva stoneware clay; image courtesy the artist. Photo: Grant Hancock

Primavera 2021: Young Australian Artists is a free exhibition and on display at the Museum of Contemporary Art Australia, Level 1 South Gallery, from Friday, October 1, 2021, to Sunday,  February 13, 2022.

The 2021 Helpmann Creative Investment Fellowships are supported by the James and Diana Ramsay Foundation and provide emerging creatives with up to $10,000 for large projects and substantial professional development programs. The recipients of the 2021 Fellowships will be announced in early October.


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