Mark II trophy for Australian of the Year Awards

26 January 2019

The students worked on a high-profile national project. It's unprecedented professional experience for them

ANU has re-designed the Australian of the Year award trophies for 2019, with the new design presented to recipients at National Australia Day award ceremony in Canberra.

A dedicated group of 10 staff and students from the ANU School of Art & Design worked in rotating shifts seven days a week since August to produce the 42 glass statues awarded for state and national winners in four categories.

The new design features the Southern Cross embedded in a newly configured tessellated body of the trophy.

Head of the ANU Glass Studio Associate Professor Richard Whiteley said they'd kept the basic rectangular shape and the light blue colour to represent the Australian sky, but developed this further.

"We wanted to add additional layers to the form to represent the multi facets of Australian society, so we added more tessellations to the body of the trophy.

"The National award is larger, and it takes the tessellations from the back surface and wraps them around the sides, so it breaks the structure from the rectangular shape and appears more animated," he said.

"We also wanted to avoid it being a generic statue by embedding a regional location within it so we took the image of the Southern Cross, which is iconic for Australia, and subtly introduced that into the back of the form.

"When international visitors come to Canberra and Australia they often mention they're overwhelmed by just how big and blue the sky is, so it's an idea that we've run with and it translates very well through the glass."

ANU is half-way through its three-year agreement to produce the statues for the National Australia Day Committee.

Associate Professor Whiteley said producing the trophies last year meant a level of expertise and practices were already in place for 2019, but there were other complications because of the change in design.

"On this project, the students honed their studio skills; grinding and polishing glass which is great for developing their technique, but what is unique is that they experience a high-profile, professional project. It's unprecedented professional experience for them.

"To have a sense of how to manage projects like this, to see the pressure points, how to negotiate these without compromising the quality of the finished product and working to a strict deadline. It's invaluable for them when they get out into the professional world," he said.