Art Collection Writing Prize 2022
For the first time, the Art Unit has offered a prize for student writing relating to UNSW's Art Collection, awarded at the inaugural UNSW Culture Awards on Friday 4 November.
This opportunity was open to all current UNSW students, requiring submission of a short, original creative response to one of three specified works of art selected from the UNSW Art Collection.
Three works were selected for students to engage with and respond to through a piece of writing in any genre, and submissions included essays, poems, and short stories of various types. The winner work was considered to be the most original, excellent, and engaging response to the work of art. Our thanks to Kathy Bail and to UNSW Press for supporting this award.
Bronwyn Oliver 1959-2006 Australia Globe 2002 Copper, 300cm (diameter) Commissioned with assistance from the U Committee, 2001 UNSW Art Collection (S2002/0904)
Art Collection Writing Prize 2022 - the winner
Aileen Huilin Wang is a third-year student in a Bachelor of Data Science at UNSW. She is an aspiring poet and writer with a life-long love of words. When she isn’t writing, she’s reading, baking or knitting. Her submission was a poem entitled ‘Cat’s Cradle’, described it as a sophisticated piece of writing, that captures the essence of Bronwyn Oliver’s Globe, that weaves together a series of playful images and metaphors.
Hair that falls a fine, oiled mesh
Is beautiful, but hair cut off
Is the plaything of cats.
Latticed shadow of an empty world
Battered with sheathed claws.
Sacrifice etched in starry constellation.
A prayer of homecoming
Spread-out net, catching wishes,
Goldfish slip through, debris remains.
Flight is caged in feathers
Feathers make the flock.
See how the bird sings! It swoops,
Touches the ground, not with flesh
But with wings. The cat waits.
Bright eyes in the dark, playful,
Claws no longer sheathed.
Swaying boughs of the old fig tree,
Leaves that curl like fans, hiding
Silent titters. Stretch
And shout, rejoicing upwards
Tongueless with the wind’s voice.
The fig tree’s leaves do not cover.
Armoured with nakedness,
Back arched, arms raised, silent
Though it be a cat’s plaything
But still, one must love
Fragrant oils and sandalwood,
Combs with thin teeth, flowers
Curling on handles, blossoms
Etched in wood.
One must love the rooted bird
The tree in flight, even
The cat with bloodied claws.
One must love one’s cage,
Love Babylon and not mourn
The ponds of goldfish,
Grow gardens, raise orchards,
Marry strangers and
Hold in equal contempt
Equal love, the world.
© Aileen Huilin Wang, 2022
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