Sidney Myer Fellowships announced with Sarah Blasko, Nicola Gunn and Anna Krien among recipients

Eight mid-career artists have been announced as the 2018 Sidney Myer Creative Fellows.

They are: Sarah Blasko, Vic, Music; Merindah Donnelly, Qld, Dance; Nicola Gunn, Vic, Theatre; Jonathan Jones, NSW, Visual Arts; Anna Krien, Vic, Writing; James Mangohig, NT, Music & Community and Cultural Development; S.J Norman, Vic, Live Art; and Nick Power, NSW Dance.

An unrestricted and tax-free grant of $160,000 over a two-year period has been awarded to each Fellow.

The Fellowships are not tied to any specific outcome, instead, they provide an income over a two-year period. To be nominated for a Fellowship, “artists and thought leaders must be within seven and 15 years into their creative practice and meet two criteria: outstanding talent and exceptional professional courage”. The biographies below are provided by the Fellowship organisers.

2018 Sidney Myer Creative Fellows

Sarah Blasko

“Sarah (pictured above on the cover of her 2015 album Eternal Return) is one of Australia’s most original voices. She writes songs that strike with rare immediacy, clarity and purpose. Melodies beguilingly simple, lyrics honest and direct. Blasko has reached rarefied status in Australia, from the now-classic debut The Overture & The Underscore (2004) through to the stunning just-released Depth Of Field (2018). She has received 3 ARIA Awards, countless award nominations and triple j’s coveted Album Of The Year for 2009’s ‘As Day Follows Night’. She has toured extensively throughout the country playing our grandest theatres & biggest festival stages.

“Sarah was the subject of the ABC commissioned documentary BLASKO – which aired late in 2017 to critical acclaim. BLASKO chronicled the artist at cross-roads, reconsidering her future and finding inspiration through faith and commitment to her creative process. Blasko has written music for film, television, theatre and dance & continues to collaborate and create across multiple platforms and art-forms.”

Merindah Donnelly

“Merindah is a Koori woman based in Brisbane. She has worked in market development for a decade, specialising in sector transformation. During this time, she has collaboratively developed research, design and strategy to support Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander artists and companies to cultivate new markets nationally and internationally. Merindah has worked for the Australia Council for the Arts and the Australian Performing Arts Market, she has been an International Society of Performing Arts global fellow, collaboratively led a number of major national sector gatherings, is undertaking an MFA at NIDA and is the Executive Producer of BlakDance.”

Nicola Gunn

“Nicola is an award-winning performer, writer, director, producer and dramaturg, responsible for realising her own projects from conception to presentation. She borrows from theatrical, choreographic, literary, comedic and visual art languages to create a mode of performance that plays with form and pursues a narrative. It’s often philosophical and text-based, sitting somewhere between autobiography and fiction. She is interested in people, relationships and story first and foremost and how to use language simply to convey a hidden and modest complexity. She starts the writing process always by hand, always in a black spiral notebook.

“Since graduating from the VCA in 2008 with a Postgraduate Diploma in Performance Creation, Nicola has been commissioned by theatre and dance organisations including MTC, Malthouse Theatre, Arts Centre Melbourne, Chunky Move, Mobile States, Theatre Works and Field Theory, and presented in both contexts in Australia and overseas.”

Jonathan Jones

“Jonathan Jones (born 1978) is a Sydney-based artist and a member of the Wiradjuri and Kamilaroi nations of south-east Australia. Jones works across a range of mediums to create site-specific installations and public artworks that explore Aboriginal practices, relationships and ideas.

“Jones often uses every day or found materials, such as fluorescent lights, wood, shells, plants and seeds, in his practice. He repurposes these materials to explore relationships between community and the individual, the personal and public, historical and contemporary. Through research and community engagement he seeks to represent the living memory of a site, as witnessed in his major 2016 Kaldor Public Art Projects artwork barrangal dyara (skin and bones) at the Royal Botanic Garden Sydney. Jones’s work strives to champion local knowledge systems, is grounded in research of the historical archive and builds on community aspirations. He is currently Senior Researcher, Jumbunna Institute for Indigenous Education and Research, University of Technology Sydney.”

Anna Krien

“Anna is the author of Night Games: Sex, Power and Sport, Into the Woods: The Battle for Tasmania’s Forests and Quarterly Essay 45 Us and Them: On the Importance of Animals and Quarterly Essay 67 The Long Goodbye: Coal, Coral and Australia’s Climate Deadlock.

“Her work has been published in The Monthly, The Age, The Big Issue, Best Australian Essays, Best Australian Stories, and Griffith Review. In 2014 she won the William Hill Sports Book of the Year Award in the UK.”

James Mangohig

“Of Filipino and Dutch heritage James is an ARIA nominated music producer based on Larrakia land in Darwin, Northern Territory. His career began as a bass player with seminal NT bands such as Culture Connect & he spent his early years moving between youth work & music.

“In the mid-2000s he formed Sietta with vocalist & songwriter Caiti Baker; released 2 albums & 2 EPs to widespread critical acclaim & toured nationally & internationally.

“2014 saw Universal Music Publishing sign James to their publishing roster & employ him to work out of LA producing upcoming & established American artists. 2015 involved national tours, international invitations, producing & performing for Skinnyfish Music, feature performances in the Australia Now program in Istanbul, Turkey & a 2-month musical journey across the USA. He also worked with numerous artists including Jessica Mauboy producing tracks.

“In 2016 he teamed with Daniel Johns (Silverchair) & was nominated for an Aria for their work together. A large part of his recent work has been with Indigenous label Skinnyfish Music working with Dr G Yunupingu, B2M, The Lonely Boys, Manuel Dhurrkay (Saltwater Band) & numerous others.”

S.J. Norman

“S.J (Sarah-Jane) is an inter-disciplinary artist and writer, whose unique breadth of practice incorporates live performance, installation, film and video, sculpture and object based work, sound, prose fiction and non-fiction, poetry and extended textual practice. Working with extended duration, process-based, and endurance practices, as well as intimate/one-to-one frameworks, Norman’s primary medium is the body: the body as a spectacle of truth and a theatre of fantasy; a siphon of personal and collective memory; an organism with which we are infinitely familiar and eternally estranged; a site where histories, narratives, desires and discourses converge and collapse. Norman seeks through much of their work to implicate the body of the audience and the body of the performer as co-agents in magical acts, through which they seek to forge hybrid languages of ritual and queer de-colonial knowledge-making. They were born on un-ceded Gadigal land to a Wiradjuri mother and a migrant father, and are currently based in Narrm (Melbourne).”

Nick Power

“Nick is a Sydney based B*boy and Choreographer whose work draws on the rituals and culture of hip hop to create contemporary performances. His practice spans from remote Aboriginal communities in the desert to the stages of the most prestigious contemporary dance festivals in Europe. Crossing complex divides of place, culture, language and form is Nick’s forté.

“He grew his skills in the Australian hip hop scene through dance battles and shows before going on to create performances for some of Australia’s most celebrated companies including Tracks Dance and Stalker Theatre. In 2012 Nick was the recipient of the Australia Council dance residency at the Cite International Des Arts in Paris. This residency, alongside his time in the remote Aboriginal community of Lajamanu, inspired his first full length independent work – Cypher. Based on a hip hop dance ritual, the work premiered at Darwin Festival in 2014 and has since toured to major European dance festivals and throughout Australia including Sydney Festival, Sydney Opera House, Tanz Im August (Berlin) and URB Festival (Helsinki).

“Following this came Between Tiny Cities – a duet between a dancer from Darwin and a dancer from Phnom Penh, developed over three years through a cross cultural hip hop exchange between Australia and Cambodia. It premiered at Dance Massive 2017 with seasons in Phnom Penh, Darwin Festival, APAM and Hong Kong Arts Festival. The work toured through Asia and Europe in 2018 and was nominated for a Green Room Award and an Australian Dance Award.

“Nick was the founder and Artistic Director of Platform Hip Hop Festival, produced by Carriageworks and is currently the Curator of Contemporary Dance at Campbelltown Arts Centre.”

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