Tuesday, November 14th, 2017
Claudia Nicholson
wins the 2017 NSW Visual Arts Emerging Fellowship

Congratulations to Claudia Nicholson, recipient of the 2017 NSW Visual Arts Emerging Fellowship!

The prestigious $30,000 Fellowship was awarded on 8th November for her installation ‘Don’t let me down let me down’.

The Fellowship is presented by Arts NSW in association with Artspace. The exhibition of finalists can be viewed at Artspace until 9 December, 2017.

Minister for the Arts the Hon. Don Harwin presented the Fellowship at the exhibition’s launch this evening, noting that Nicholson will travel through Central and North America to attend specific cultural festivals and memorial sites that inform her practice. In San Francisco she will undertake professional development under the guidance of curator Ivan Muñiz Reed, conducting first-hand research into pre-Hispanic and Chicanx art at San Francisco’s Mexican Museum. On her return to Sydney, Nicholson will be producing work in collaboration with Fairfield’s Spanish Speaking Choir.

‘The impressive collection of works here tonight speaks volumes about the passion and creativity of NSW visual artists. I am proud to be able to offer this support to Claudia as this year’s Fellow, and congratulate the collective group for their incredible works’, Minister Harwin said. ‘Investment in emerging artists is crucial in our efforts to build and support a thriving, diverse and world-class cultural sector, and this evening is a testament to that. We have a very talented pool of artists and we are committed to providing opportunities that further their professional development and ultimately help them in broadening their exposure and critical acclaim.’

As a Colombian-born Australian artist, Nicholson’s practice addresses belonging and separation from homeland. Inherent in her work is a desire to connect to heritage, intertwining established modes of artisanal practice, specifically those local to Central America, with her own. For the 2017 Fellowship, Nicholson has created two traditional Columbian silletas. These wearable objects made with an array of fresh flowers have historically been used to transport goods and people and connect with a colonial legacy of slavery. In Don’t Let Me Down Let Me Down, Nicholson takes up these histories of power and labour and places them in a new context grappling with its own colonial legacy.

An independent selection committee of artists and industry professionals is convened by Create NSW to determine both the Fellowship finalists and recipient from a highly competitive pool of NSW-based applicants. This year’s committee is Adam Porter, Curator, Campbelltown Arts Centre; Bree Pickering, Director, Murray Art Museum Albury (MAMA); Charlotte Galleguillos, Head of Learning and Engagement, Carriageworks; and Heath Franco, artist and recipient, 2015 NSW Visual Arts Emerging Fellowship.

The 2017 Fellowship — including Fernando do Campo, Emma Fielden, Ashleigh Garwood, Spence Messih, Claudia Nicholson, Emily ParsonsLord, Jason Phu, Shan TurnerCarroll and Louise Zhang — has been co-curated by Artspace Curator Talia Linz and Curatorial Assistant Lola Pinder with Executive Director Alexie Glass-Kantor as Associate Curator.

Of the exhibition, Alexie Glass-Kantor says, “For twenty-one years Artspace has hosted the exhibition for the NSW Visual Arts Emerging Fellowship and we are immensely proud of the support this initiative has provided for generations of artists. All of this year’s finalists are first time participants in the Fellowship and their approaches to contemporary art are representative of the bold spectrum of practice from artists in the breakthrough stages of their career. Each year we are delighted to work with the individual artists to develop their work and this year the finalists seized the opportunity with impressive creativity and zeal. Claudia is an artist with a multidisciplinary practice who explores identity, cultural heritage and popular culture with a unique and distinctive approach, and she will no doubt benefit immensely from the wonderful opportunity the Fellowship enables. The Artspace team and myself are excited for what the future holds for Claudia, she joins an illustrious alumni of Fellowship recipients and we wish her every success.”

She continues, “I’d like to acknowledge the collaborative efforts from our peers at Create NSW and the team at Artspace who have worked tirelessly to once again bring this project into fruition. We also thank the esteemed members of this year’s selection committee for their conscientiousness in what is a very difficult task. Artspace is committed to cultivating and fostering talent among new generations of NSW artists and we look forward to the evolution of this important award and the exciting futures of all of this year’s finalists.”

– Artspace Press Release.
Wednesday 8 November, 2017.

Images: Claudia Nicholson, Don’t let me down let me down’, 2017. Images courtesy of Claudia Nicholson and Artspace. Photograph by Zan Wimberley.