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Spirit of Youth Awards

Spirit of Youth Awards

Qantas this week held its ninth annual Spirit of Youth Awards (SOYA365), recognising eleven outstanding young Australians for their creative talent. SOYA is the leading grants program for emerging creative talent and Qantas provides young Australians with financial and professional support to help them achieve their artistic goals. Qantas Group Executive for Brand, Marketing and Corporate Affairs, Olivia Wirth said Qantas has supported the SOYA awards since their inception in 2004.

“As Australia’s national carrier, we’ve been helping showcase Australian talent on the world stage for many decades, through business, food and wine, fashion, film and many varied industries,” said Ms Wirth. “Qantas recognises the high level of skill and creativity that Australia has to offer and we are privileged to foster and promote such creative potential, particularly among young Australians.”

SOYA365 winners receive $5000 worth of air travel and a further $5,000 in cash aimed to help them expand their horizons and develop their contacts nationally and internationally. Winners also receive a 12 month mentorship with a professional leader in their chosen field. Mentors offer strategic advice on the next steps forward on the road to success.

The evening, hosted by Adam Spencer, showcased the work of each winner and included special performances by ARIA award winners Birds of Tokyo, SOYA Music category runner-up Brendan McLean and DJs Stereogamous. SOYA365 is a creative melting pot spanning 11 key creative disciplines; Visual Arts; Visual Design & Communications; The Written Word; Architecture & Interior Design; Fashion; Animation; Music; Interactive Content & Gaming; Photography; Craft & Object Design; Film & Video.

And the award goes to…


Winner – Gracie Otto
Gracie is a well-known Australian film director, as well as an actor, writer and editor. She graduated with an Advanced Diploma in Film from Sydney Film School in 2006. Since graduating Gracie has created several short films including Seamstress, La Meme Nuit and Tango Trois which have been screened at recognised international film festivals from Flickerfest in Sydney to Berlin, Palm Springs and Cannes. While working overseas Gracie created three short web-films for Francois Champsaur, a legendary French interior designer in Paris, Deauville and Marseille. Recently, Gracie made her first two-minute TVC in Australia for Westfield Fashion titled Fashion Lust.

Mentor – Robert Luketic
Robert Luketic (Director) made his feature film directorial debut in 2001, with the smash hit Legally Blonde. Most recently, Luketic directed the popular 2010 romantic thriller, Killers, starring Katherine Heigl and Ashton Kutcher. Currently, Luketic is set to direct the heist caper, Brilliant, that Eric Bana is attached to star in.


Winner – Shannon Gunn & Gabrielle Thompson
Working together under their label tom gunn, Shannon and Gabrielle create original footwear made with carefully selected leathers, contrasting colours and textures and a focus on individual styling. Trained in Australia and Italy, the pair now has their wares stocked throughout Australia and New Zealand

Mentor – Zimmermann (Nicky & Simone Zimmermann)
Sisters Nicky and Simone have built the Zimmermann brand into one of Australia’s most enduring and influential fashion labels. Their first taste of business partnership was running a stall at Paddington Markets 15 years ago.


Winner – Elizabeth Rose
Known for her dreamy electro-pop tunes, Elizabeth has lent her vocals to Sydney duo Flight Facilities for their infectious disco track I Didn’t Believe, which saw an impressive forty thousand streams in its first hour of release. She has created a remix for New York artist Chairlift’s track Turning and Brisbane artist Georgia Potter’s The Good Life, and is currently collaborating on new music with 2004 SOYA Music finalist and Grammy Award winner Gotye. Elizabeth launched her debut EP, Crystallise in 2012, which features Again, a collaboration with UK producer Sinden.

Mentor – Lee Groves
Lee is a British producer / writer, composer & mixer who relocated to Sydney’s Level 7 Studios from London in 2007. After a remarkable and varied career spanning many years (with artists such as Black Eyed Peas, Janet Jackson, Craig David, Goldfrapp, Depeche Mode, Gwen Stefani, Dave Matthews Band, Marilyn Manson amongst many others) his first Australian project was production on Bertie Blackman’s “Secrets and Lies”, which won an ARIA in 2009.


Winner – Sophie Richards
At just 20 years old, Sophie is one of our youngest SOYA winners. Sophie shoots solely on film and will use the funds toward supplies that will enable her to experiment with various development methods.

Mentor – Polly Borland
LA-based Borland shoots regularly for numerous UK and US publications including The New Yorker, The New York Times, The Independent and Dazed and Confused. Her work has appeared in numerous exhibitions all over the world and in Australia.


Winner – Josh McGrath
Joshua’s background in creative writing, musical acoustics and Computer Science helps inform the development of his games, which unite his love of literature and surreal humour with lush sound designs and an accessible graphical and gameplay style.

Mentor – Soap Creative (Ashley Ringrose & Brad Eldridge)
An avid gamer and game creator Ashley has been personally responsible for the game design and build of over 50 online “advergames” and overseen another 90 in the last few years ranging from small single play games to massive, multi-user games. Brad has a background in graphic design, advertising and digital gives him the unique ability to conceive an idea and execute it.


Winner – Alli Sebastian Wolf
Alli is a story-maker working across theatre, performance and visual art; creating worlds within which people may lose themselves.

Mentor – Lisa Dempster
Lisa Dempster is the Director/CEO of the Melbourne Writers Festival. Her previous roles include Director of the Emerging Writers’ Festival (2010-2012), the Founding Director of EWFdigital, and the Digital Writers’ Conference. In 2012 she curated an exhibition at the National Gallery of Victoria, Future Bookshop.


Winner – Wing Lau
COFA graduate Wing Lau’s work covers a diverse range of design disciplines including branding, poster, typography and curatorial.

Mentor – Vince Frost
Vince Frost is one of Australia’s most recognised designers and one of the most globally celebrated and awarded of our time. Most recently Vince was voted one of the top 100 influential people in Sydney by Sydney Morning Herald’s the (Sydney) magazine.


Winner – Alasdair McLuckie
Alasdair is well on his way to national recognition with artworks already acquired by MONA, Artbank, Art & Australia and the Monash University Museum of Art. Using drawing and craft, Alasdair’s practice adopts a meticulous process to explore and reinvent traditional folklore, tribalism and ritual, creation and destruction, with a formalist sensibility.

Mentor – Elizabeth Ann Macgregor OBE
Elizabeth Ann Macgregor is passionate about making art accessible to everyone and is an advocate for the arts on all levels. Since taking over as Director of the MCA in 1999, Liz Ann has transformed the institution and is now overseeing a $53m redevelopment to cater to its growing audience.


Winner – Peter Lowey
Peter’s creations are influenced by early 1940-50s Disney animation and he has won several awards for his work, including the 2011 YouTube Annecy award and Best Australian Animated Short Film at the 2011
Melbourne International Animation Festival. His short film on Napoleon Bonaparte, ‘The Little Dictator’ has screened on the Nickelodeon Channel and was a huge success on American television. Peter has also been commended for his work on Gotye’s music video ‘Save Me’.

Mentor – Marco Marenghi
Marco Marenghi is Animation Director at Animal Logic, Sydney for the upcoming “Walking with Dinosaurs 3D” movie. Originally from Wales, he has worked with Steven Spielberg on Minority Report, and on films and television such as Bewitched, I am Legend, The Polar Express, Ghost Rider, Lost in Space and Tomorrow Never Dies.


Winner – Michael Ong
Michael, who was named Runner-Up in this category in its inaugural year, has plans to carve out an archi-tour of Europe as part of his Award as well as putting the funds toward a series of projects queuing up in his sketchbook.

Mentor – Brian Zulaikha
Brian founded Tonkin Zulaikha Greer architects in 1987. He is the current chairman of the Biennale Committee for Australia’s representation in the Venice Architecture Biennale and is the Immediate Past President of the Australian Institute of Architects.


Winner – Andrew Southwood-Jones and Alexander Kashin
Andrew Southwood-Jones and Alexander Kashin’s work has evolved through experimentation with digital and traditional fabrication methods. Their creations range from object and furniture design through to large scale temporary installations.

Mentor – Marc Newson
One of the world’s foremost designers, Marc Newson’s distinctive style can be found on an enormous range of designs, from watches and furniture to restaurants, recording studios to Qantas’ A380 interior, award-winning Skybed and First Lounge. Now, with permanent exhibitions of his work in New York’s Museum of Modern Art, London’s Design Museum and the Vitra Design Museum in Germany, Newson has become one of the most sought after designers in the world.

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