Collaborative Mentorship Initiative

A unique mentorship program for early-career participants looking to build the knowledge, skills and capacity to pursue projects and goals.

Screenshot of a Zoom meeting with 9 people on 9 screens

Zoom screenshot of all participants in the Collaborative Mentorship Initiative 'Welcome Session'. L-R from first row: Ryan Lee; Nancy Yu; Franchesca Cubillo; Sarra Tzijan; Helen Kwok; Megan Cope; Ramesh Mario Nithiyendran; Rusaila Bazlamit; and Justine Youssef (NAVA).

NAVA is delighted to announce the four Collaborative Mentorship Initiative participants are: Helen Kwok (VIC), multimedia artist and designer who has worked on playful installations, experimental games, and public play activation; Ryan Lee (NSW), conceptual video artist whose work is strongly influenced by First Nations as well as natural and spiritual philosophies; Sarra Tzijan (SA), Indian/Australian emerging artist working across sculpture, jewellery and design; and Nancy Yu (NSW), Chinese Australian Artist who uses glass as her primary medium of choice in her sculptural installations.

About the program

The Collaborative Mentorship Initiative offers early-career practitioners the unique opportunity to work one-on-one with advising artists and arts workers to inspire confidence and self-awareness, and to build the knowledge, skills and capacity to pursue projects and goals.

This program, to be completed over four months, is based on a mutual mentorship model that provides, and compensates, both the adviser and early-career practitioner space to share ideas and learn from each other.

Advising arts practitioners

Rusaila Bazlamit

Woman wearing a black dress, clear glasses and a beige headscarf looking slightly over her shoulder. On stage speaking at a panel.

Photo by Lawrence Wilson Art Gallery, UWA 2016

Rusaila is a digital designer, visual communicator, lecturer in design and digital media, an experimental artist, and an occasional art curator. She has lectured at tertiary level in Architecture, Design, Digital and Interactive Media in Jordan and Australia, and has exhibited several digital and video art projects, interactive installations, and photography work worldwide. Rusaila is the founder of Lab Tajribi | Experimental Expressions, holds a PhD in Design (2019) from Curtin University, and her interests are centred in design activism, social justice, and representations of the misrepresented.

Megan Cope

Portrait of a woman with long brown hair wearing a burgundy velvet top, silver hoop earrings, and a shell necklace, looking into camera lens.

Photo by Rhett Hammerton

Megan Cope is a Quandamooka artist. Her site-specific sculptural installations, video work, painting and public art investigate issues relating to identity, the environment and mapping practices. She has featured in the Adelaide Biennial of Australian Art (2020), The National (2017), and Defying Empire: 3rd National Indigenous Art Triennial (2017) and many more. In 2017-19 Cope was the Official Australian War Artist. Her work is held in Australian and international collections. She is a member of Aboriginal art collective proppaNOW, and is represented by Milani Gallery, Brisbane.

Franchesca Cubillo

Portrait of a woman with black wavy hair, wearing a black top and dangly earrings, staring into camera lens.

Photo by Lisa Mattiazzi, NG

Franchesca Cubillo is a proud Yanuwa, Larrakia, Bardi, and Wardaman woman from the ‘Top End’ region of Australia. She is a museum interventionist and has worked in several state and federal museums and art galleries across Australia for the last 30+ years. She is a Churchill Fellow, has a Bachelor of Arts degree with Honours in Anthropology and is a PhD candidate with the Australian National University.

Francesca will be joining the Australia Council in March as the Executive Director, Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Arts. Previously, she was the Senior Curator Aboriginal & Torres Strait Islander Art at the National Gallery of Australia.

Ramesh Mario Nithiyendran

Portrait of man with shoulder-length curly black hair, wearing a bright floral button-up shirt and a silver septum ring, staring into camera lens.

Photo by Anna Kucera

Sri-Lankan born artist Ramesh Mario Nithiyendran is a contemporary artist who experiments with figurative sculptural and painting practices to explore politics of sex, the monument, gender and religion. 

Nithiyendran is represented by Sullivan + Strumpf, Sydney + Singapore and is currently a resident of Parramatta Artist Studios, Rydalmere.

Early-career practitioners

Helen Kwok

Portrait of woman with black hair tied up staring into camera lens, wearing a white, blue and red striped shirt, white jacket and black framed glasses.

Photo by Chad Toprak

Helen Kwok is a multimedia artist and designer who has worked on playful installations, experimental games, and public play activations that have been showcased locally and internationally. Her creative practice often involves blending the digital and physical, crafting work that playfully and meaningfully extends beyond the screen.

In mentorship with Rusaila Bazlamit, Helen will develop her project Street Tape Games. A direct response to COVID-19, Street Tape Games is a temporary, public art installation that encourages the community to come outside and play again after lockdown. It uses social-distancing tapes to create a playspace that the public can use to play street games with social distancing in mind.

Ryan Lee

Black and white portrait of man with curly black hair and wearing a white shirt.

Photo provided by Ryan Andrew Lee

Ryan Andrew Lee is a conceptual video artist whose work is strongly influenced by First Nations as well as natural and spiritual philosophies. Using the medium of moving image and installation as his favoured tools of choice, Lee proactively strives to create work that resonates on a deeper level of human consciousness traversing divisive conceptual constructs such as class, culture, race, gender and religion. His work aims to raise consciousness across the current settler state diaspora and to promote deeper cross-cultural understanding and communication in order to assist the breakdown of such conceptual divisive barriers.

In mentorship with Megan Cope, Ryan will develop his moving image and installation based practice.

'Mt Olive' is a video-based diptych installation work that visually explores the idea of Ancestral Nostalgia, as well as exploring the displacement of ancestral lines following European settlement here in Australia.

The work also aims to analyse the concept of existential time in juxtaposition with spiritual and natural rhythm. The work will be exhibited at a solo exhibition at BAMM Moree, as well as some other galleries.

Sarra Tzijan

Black and white portrait of woman looking slightly off centre, with curly black hair tied up, and wearing a black and white zig zag patterned button up shirt.

Photo provided by Sarra Tzijan

Sarra Tzijan is an Indian/Australian emerging artist working across sculpture, jewellery and design. Tzijan’s practice is focused around the combination of traditional metalwork with contemporary art. Tzijan often works collaboratively to encourage the influence of others. ‘Flow’ is an important aspect of her process, allowing for spontaneity and free play.

In mentorship with Franchesca Cubillo, Tzijan will develop her project creating new sculptural work combining Dhokra with glass blowing; two traditional craft processes being used in a non-traditional context. The work explores the ‘Village Vessel’ concept; a singular artwork representing the hands of many. The outcome will be presented in a solo show at JamFactory.

Nancy Yu

Woman with long straight black hair wearing a white shirt sits at a desk holding a textured glass sculpture.

Photo by Felix Esteban

NC Qin is a Chinese Australian Artist who uses glass as her primary medium of choice in her sculptural installations, taking a traditionally craft based medium into the realm of contemporary art. Her installations draw on Eastern and Western cultural influences and philosophies in her exploration of the tension of identity.

In mentorship with Ramesh, Yu would like to focus on the navigation of opportunities in fellowships and grants in order to develop her professional practice. In the long term she would like to progress into making sculptural work that is monumental in scale and work towards creating Public Art.

Two logos on white background: Copyright Agency Cultural Fund and NAVA.

This project is supported by the Copyright Agency’s Cultural Fund.