Carstairs Grant Recipients


NAVA was pleased to announce Saluhan as the recipient of the 2021 Carstairs Prize for socially-engaged arts projects. 

Saluhan used the $10,000 prize to develop Dialekto, a multidisciplinary arts project of free workshops and events in visual arts, sound, cooking and storytelling at Siteworks, led by Saluhan artists for local communities of colour. This was followed by a curated group exhibition of participant works in 2022.

“We are thrilled to receive the Carstairs Prize in 2021 and thank NAVA for their generous support of our collective and their commitment to championing socially-engaged arts practice,” said Saluhan. “The funding will enable us to advocate for an alternative model of contemporary arts practice that considers creativity and connection as vital to the wellbeing of both our artists and our communities. Maraming salamat po.”

Formed in 2019, Saluhan is an emerging collective of Filipinx/o artists based in Naarm, led by Aida Azin and MJ Flamiano alongside Kenneth Suico, Catherine Ortega-Sandow, Bea Rubio-Gabriel, Rio Withall, Vader Fame, and Kuya Neil. Saluhan was created with a focus on facilitating collaborative projects that combine art, activism, and community development. 


NAVA was pleased to announce Shahmen Suku as the recipient of the 2020 Carstairs Prize for socially engaged practice. 

Suku will use the $3,000 prize to develop and present a series of cooking show style videos featuring special guests from the New South Wales arts and culture scene. Live streamed from the artist’s backyard in Sydney’s inner west, the project aims to provide a platform to talk about art and community while also sharing insights into varied experiences of growing up in Australia. 

On receiving the prize Suku said: “I am absolutely honoured to be receiving the 2020 Carstairs Prize and grateful to NAVA and the Carstairs donor. This will allow me to push my ongoing work “Where You’d Radha Be” into a new iteration to include artists and creatives of Colour as well as from diverse backgrounds. This will also allow me to support them while creating socially engaged videos as a platform for us to share our stories to create new connections through the art of making food.”

Shahmen Suku is a performance artist based in Sydney NSW who explores ideas of racial, religious and cultural identity, gender roles, the home and the kitchen, food and storytelling. Growing up in a modern matriarchal Indian family in Singapore, Suku processes his sense of displacement from home as Radha, the Diva from India. Moving to Australia has given the artist multiple perspectives on migration, culture, race, colonisation and gender identity. Suku discusses these issues openly through his alter ego, Radha, sharing stories the way he learnt them from his mother’s kitchen, through food. 

The Carstairs Prize is funded by a private donor and administered by NAVA. 


NAVA announced Shivanjani Lal as the 2019 recipient of the $3,000 Carstairs Prize for socially engaged practice. An additional highly commended prize of $1,000 was awarded to Laura Jade. 

Shivanjani Lal is a twice-removed Fijian-Indian-Australian artist and curator. She works across mediums to explore her dislocation that seeks to account for memory, erasure, healing and the archive. Her current research posits that her body and the landscapes she is from hold the grief of being removed. Her work attempts to document and create gestures of healing.

The Carstairs Prize offers assistance to an Australian artist to present a socially engaged art project that embraces participatory and collaborative experiences. The aim of the funding is to bring participants into active dialogue with the artist in order to involve audiences beyond the art community.

As the recipient of the prize, Lal is using the funds toward artists’ fees for the fourteen Fijian and Indo-Fijian artists in her project Bittersweet at Casula Powerhouse May-July 2020. This exhibition will reflect shared histories of food, community and grief. It is the next iteration following her exhibition Landings, presented in New Zealand earlier this year, which marked the 140th anniversary of the Indian community arriving in Fiji and explored the relationship iTaukei and Indo-Fijians. Bittersweet will be a meditation on food, removal, grief and how communities come together and have the capacity to remake themselves in diaspora.

A highly commended prize of $1,000 has also been award to Laura Jade, a Sydney-based light artist working in the multidisciplinary fields of art, biology, illumination design, neuroscience and BCI (brain-computer interface) technology to explore new ways of perceiving and interacting with our inner biological processes.

The Carstairs Prize is funded by a private donor and administered by NAVA. 


Torika Bolatagici was the 2018 recipient of the $3000 Carstairs Prize. 

This year, the Prize was awarded to Torika Bolatagici who is using the money to fund “Black Tourmaline” presented by The Community Reading Room.

Bolatagici has been running the Community Reading Room for the past five years as a discursive project that generates discussion about the inclusivity of creative arts education and specifically how our institutions of knowledge privilege particular methodologies and ways of knowing. The Carstairs Prize funding will contribute to “Black Tourmaline” at Testing Grounds in Melbourne.

On receiving the prize Bolatagici said “It is an absolute honour to receive the 2018 Carstairs Prize. This funding will enable the extension of the Community Reading Room project in 2019. Specifically the presentation of ‘Black Tourmaline’ at Testing Grounds - a site-specific installation and participatory project that invites the public to contribute to an archive of lived-experiences of education over a period of 24-days. A collaborative curated program of workshops and panel discussions will unpack ideas around self-determined spaces for learning, healing and knowledge-sharing outside the academy. Thank you to the National Association for the Visual Arts (NAVA) and Carstairs Prize donor for this wonderful opportunity.”

We look forward to seeing “Black Tourmaline” unfold in 2019.


Abdullah M. I. Syed wins the 2017 Carstairs Prize

Abdullah M. I. Syed is a Western Sydney based Pakistani born artist and designer who sees art as a balancing act of archiving and re-articulating forms of memory, myth, tradition and belonging. His art practice inhabits socio-political, religious and financial power structures, mainly emerging out of the ever-growing rhetoric of conflict and (mis)representation of faith and culture.

The Carstairs Prize offers $3,000 assistance to a mid-career Australian artist to present a socially engaged art project that embraces participatory and collaborative experiences. The aim of the funding is to bring participants into active dialogue with the artist in order to involve audiences beyond the art community.

As the recipient of the prize Syed will present a cross-cultural project that aims to recreate an age-old Islamic artist-apprentice practice, rooted in the Middle East and South-Asia, by directly engaging the Adelaide artisan community to research in the area of Islamic and western traditions of weaving and patterning as a platform for reciprocal learning, cross-cultural dialogue and knowledge sharing. Syed will create new drawings and installations including a collaborative artwork out of shredded US dollar banknotes that he sourced through an auction house in Sydney. The works will be shown at ACE Open, Adelaide, as part of the exhibition, Waqt al-tagheer: Time of change in March 2018.

Syed says “I am pleased and very grateful to have been awarded the Carstairs Prize, 2017. This award will contribute towards my on-going cross-cultural and regional study of South Asian and Islamic Arts and Crafts in Australia and provide the chance to get to know and collaborate with the cultural community of Adelaide. Thank you to National Association for the Visual Arts (NAVA) and Carstairs Prize donor for this exciting opportunity to contribute meaningfully to Australian culture, visual arts and research community.”

This is a new program supported by the donor of the previous Carstairs Residency Prize. Named after the Carstairs, the prize drew its name from an intriguing and eccentric blend of writers, poets, painters, pianists, and illustrators who immigrated to Australia from Fife, Scotland in the 19th century.


NAVA and the Bundanon Trust are pleased to announce that Shoufay Derz is this year’s recipient of the Carstairs Residency Prize.

Shoufay Derz is a Sydney based artist of both German and Taiwanese ancestry. Through the mediums of photography, sculpture and video installation her recent artwork is a personal reflection on death and the meaning of emptiness.

As the recipient of the award Shoufay will complete a residency at Bundanon January - February 2017 where she will create new video, text and sculpture works inspired by the natural landscape of Bundanon and the Shoalhaven river. These works will be shown at Manly Art Gallery and Museum and Artereal Gallery, Rozelle NSW in 2017.

Shoufay Derz, Someone digging in the ground

Image: Shoufay Derz, Someone digging in the ground (1 and 3 of 3). Archival print on archival cotton paper, custom made cedar frame, stained natural with eucalyptus and rust. 104 x 111 cm


NAVA, Bundanon Trust and our private philanthropist are pleased to announce the winner of the 2015 Carstairs Residency Prize is Annee Miron. Annee will use her time at Bundanon to create the foundations of new works that use weaving and knotting to make monumental forms reflecting that country. It provides a rare opportunity to research and experiment with these old construction techniques whilst in contemporary dialogue with other who explore that same environment.

Annee Miron, You Are Still Part of the Commonwealth

You Are Still Part of the Commonwealth 1/3, Annee Miron, 2011

Hand plaited sisal rope + found union jack flag, Image: Deidre Carmichael


NAVA, Bundanon Trust and our private philanthropist are pleased to announce the winner of the 2014 Carstairs Residency Prize is Anne Scott Wilson. Anne will be using her time at Bundanon to create site specific light works in photography, installation and performative devices.

Anne Scott Wilson, Homage to Turner

Homage to Turner , Anne Scott Wilson, 2013
igital pinhole print on Arches Velin Museum Rag 97 x 130cms

Carstairs Grant Recipients