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.


Cat’s Cradle

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

Contemptuous ecstasy.


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 



Who can I contact if I have more questions? Please email us at