The peak body protecting and promoting the Australian visual arts sector

The Freedman Foundation Travelling Scholarship Winners


The Freedman Foundation and the National Association for the Visual Arts (NAVA) are pleased to announce this year’s recipients of The Freedman Foundation Travelling Scholarship for Emerging Artists.

Alexandra Spence (NSW) will undertake a mentorship with seminal sound-artist David Toop and a workshop with sound-recordist Chris Watson, exploring how notions of place and identity are shaped and mediated through everyday sounds.

“I feel honoured, excited and grateful to have received The Freedman Foundation Travelling Scholarship for Emerging Artists 2017. Receiving this Scholarship will allow me to fulfil a long-term goal, as well as the chance to focus on, challenge and develop my practice in new and exciting ways. It is also very inspiring to see sound-art represented by a major Australian visual arts award.” – Alexandra Spence (pictured: Every space is constantly trembling, 2016, audiovisual installation, custom-made contact microphone, transducer, bench, window, amplifier, headphones, dimensions variable.)

Roberta Rich (Vic) will undertake self-directed research exploring the history of the South African Race Relations Institute and tracing slave African ancestry in Cape Town and Johannesburg.

“Receiving this award is very exciting and has come at a time that will allow me to continue the great momentum of my research in South Africa and to shape my practice's future aesthetic developments” - Roberta Rich

Sara Retallick (Vic) will travel to Limpopo, South Africa to take part in ‘Sonic Mmabolela’, a two-week residency with sound artist Fransisco Lopez developing site responsive creative works using recordings gathered from the landscape.

“I am thrilled to be awarded this generous scholarship from NAVA and The Freedman Foundation which will enable me to take part in the Sonic Mmabolela artist residency. This unique experience will prove invaluable to my practice as I engage and learn with a dynamic group of artists from all over the world exploring new creative methods for developing sound works.” - Sara Retallick

Spence Messih will undertake a mentorship with New York based artist Gordon Hall, followed by self-directed research trips to The Chinati Foundation and various LGBTIQ archives throughout North America and Canada.

“I believe that this opportunity will greatly assist to locate my practice within an international context, expand my professional networks and strengthen my artistic process through an analysis of the intersections between transgender and gender variant histories and abstract and reductive art practices. This research trip will have a significant impact on the development of new work for my solo exhibition at Lismore Regional Gallery in mid-2018.” - Spence Messih

Now in its 17th year The Freedman Foundation Travelling Scholarship is one of the most prestigious grants offered by the National Association for the Visual Arts (NAVA), providing talented young artists with $5,000 to build their emerging careers internationally by undertaking formal study or participating in a residency or mentorship. Since the program’s inception in 2000, the scholarship has enabled over 80 emerging artists to expand and enrich their studio practice abroad.

An exhibition featuring works by this year’s recipients is being curated by Dara Wei, who has received a Curatorial Scholarship from The Freedman Foundation through the Masters of Curating and Cultural Leadership program at UNSW Art & Design. The exhibition opens at UNSW Galleries on 11 August 2017 and will also showcase works by the returning scholars from 2015: Claudia Nicholson (NSW), George Egerton-Warburton (WA), Jason Phu (NSW) and Jorgen Doyle (Tas).


The Freedman Foundation UNSW Curatorial Scholarship recipient, and Masters of Curating and Cultural Leadership candidate at UNSW Art & Design is Emily Sullivan.

The 2016 scholarship recipients are Alice Couttoupes who will undertake a two-month residency at the Cité internationale des Arts in Paris and exhibit at the Bernardaud Foundation in Limoges; Brigitte Hart is travelling to Limpopo, South Africa for a workshop with pioneering sound artist Francisco Lopez drawing on acoustic ecology and socio-politics; Olivia Koh will travel to Manila in the Philippines, to undertake an artist residency at Green Papaya alongside a mentorship with founding artists Noberto Roldan and Merv Espina that reconsiders the use of social and retail space in Quezon City; Anna McMahon is also undertaking a residency at the Cité internationale des Arts in Paris where she will research the idea of failure and paradoxical idea of ordering nature in the context of the Jardin à la Française, she will then go on to complete a mentorship with Agatha Gothe-Snape in Tokyo, followed by the first half of Documenta 14, to be held in Athens; and Georgia Saxelby will do a two-month mentorship in New York with landscape architect Julia Watson, considered an international expert in sacred space. To mark the presentation of their awards, the artists will show work relating to their primary ideas and travel destinations.

Podcast with Oliver Koh, 26 November 2016, SBS


Inaugural Freedman Foundation UNSW Curatorial Scholarship recipient, and Masters of Curating and Cultural Leadership candidate at UNSW Art & Design was Luke Letourneau.

The 2015 Freedman Foundation Travelling Scholarship recipients were Jorgen Doyle (Tas) who travelled to Jogjakarta, Indonesia to work on a collaborative public art installation in the informal settlement of Kampung Ratmakan; George Egerton-Warburton (WA) currently working on his self-directed thesis as part of a research residency at the Center of Contemporary Art in Tbilisi, Georgia; Claudia Nicholson (NSW) who will embark on four months of research into pre-Columbian ceramics across South and Central America (Paraguay, Bolivia and Guatemala) in early 2016; and Jason Phu (NSW) who recently arrived in China to participate in a residency at Organhaus Chongqing, followed by mentorships with Yang Shu of Sichuan Fine Arts Institute and Li Jin of Tianjin Academy of Fine Arts. Phu will then travel to Chongqing where he intends to establish a collaborative residency program for Australian and international artists.

The Freedman Foundation Travelling Scholarship exhibition showcased the talents of nine emerging Australian artists, presenting the work of the 2013 and 2015 scholarship recipients from 17- 31 October at UNSW Galleries, corner Oxford St and Greens Rd Paddington.


The 2014 winners were Ella Condon, Michelle Day, Brenton Smith, Kelley Stapleton and Katie Turnbull. Ella will use her scholarship to support her emerging visiting artist residency at Parsons, The New School of Design, New York. Michelle will pursue a Masters of Fine Arts at Chiang Mai University Thailand. Brenton has been awarded the Skammdagi artist in residency in north Iceland. Kelley will travel to the United States to pursue a personal study program at Marfa, new York and Chicago. Katie will undertake a residency in the Arctic Circle researching data tracking technology. Congratulations to the winners and to all the applicants who displayed a very high standard of work.

Michelle Day
Michelle Day, Parachuting from the Edge of Space, 2012

Silicone, oil, paint, organza fabric, copper, jewellery, wire, LEDs, pine box and electrical elements. 100 x 45 x 30 cm. Photographed by Paul Hay.


Cigdem Aydemir (NSW) who was selected for a two-month residency in Istanbul; Alice Lang (Qld) who undertook post-graduate study in Los Angeles; collaborators Catherine or Kate (Catherine Sagin and Kate Woodcroft, Qld) who attended training at Second City Comedy School in Chicago; and Elizabeth Willing (Qld) who undertook work experience with Thomas Rentmeister in Berlin.

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The Freedman Foundation Travelling Scholarship Winners