The peak body protecting and promoting the Australian visual arts sector

Visual Arts Fellowship Winners


The National Association for the Visual Arts (NAVA) congratulates artists Sarah Goffman (NSW), and collaborative duo Sonia Leber and David Chesworth (Vic) announced as the recipients of the 2017 $20,000 NAVA Visual Arts Fellowships, supported by the Copyright Agency’s Cultural Fund.

Aimed at mid-career artists these prestigious Fellowships supported by the Copyright Agency's Cultural Fund and administered by NAVA, ensure these exceptional artists can explore the next major development in their practice and seek opportunities to enhance their reputations, and build their professional careers.

Sarah Goffman is South-Sydney based artist whose works often involve her reuse of everyday consumable items, transforming discarded objects into socially engaged installations and assemblages. With this fellowship she will develop a new work project using second hand men's business suits for a solo exhibition/installation at 55 Sydenham Road.

Goffman expressed her “wholehearted exaltation” at the news of being awarded the fellowship. "I can now benefit from being able to realise a new work, unhindered by costs", she said. “The Visual Arts Fellowship is a substantial award which facilitates my practice in a whole new format, at the same time as recognising the hard work that I've done in the past. It basically entails a formative trust in my abilities and execution of a new large-scale work, for which I am so very grateful” she continued.

Sonia Leber and David Chesworth are a Melbourne based duo, known for their distinctive installation artworks, using video, sound, architecture, and public participation. This fellowship will enable them to gain training in video colour-grading as well as develop an ambitious seven-channel videowork ‘Geography Becomes Territory Becomes’ for a mid-career survey exhibition at Centre for Contemporary Photography in Melbourne.

"We are truly thrilled to be the recipients of this fellowship - also buoyed, more energised and more enabled to create an ambitious new multi-screen moving image work for our forthcoming mid-career survey exhibition at Centre for Contemporary Photography in Melbourne” said Leber and Chesworth today.

"This comes at a critical time in our practice, to benefit a range of videoworks to be presented at Centre for Contemporary Photography, with a high degree of experimentation in the staging of each work.” They continued, “the fellowship’s focus on skills development in professional video colour-grading will benefit all of our works into the future, enabling us to continue developing the necessary hands-on expertise to create the total filming, editing and sound design ourselves, affording us greater creative flexibly and confidence.”


The National Association for the Visual Arts (NAVA) and Copyright Agency congratulate artists Mikala Dwyer (NSW), and Michelle Nikou (SA) announced as recipients of the inaugural $20,000 NAVA Visual Arts Fellowship.

Aimed at mid-career artists these prestigious new Fellowships supported by the Copyright Agency's Cultural Fund and administered by NAVA, ensure these exceptional artists can explore the next major development in their practice and seek opportunities to enhance their reputations, and build their professional careers.

“The Copyright Agency is incredibly proud of its partnership with NAVA as the Fellowships provide valuable financial support to artists to help them develop their work and showcase the enviable talent of Australia’s passionate and creative Australian arts community,” said Copyright Agency CEO, Adam Suckling.

This year’s selection panel which included curator Hannah Mathews and artist Sally Smart said, “The Visual Arts Fellowship was extremely competitive with a high calibre of applications that demonstrated an exciting range of invitations being made to Australian artists both here and abroad. We are delighted with the final selection of Mikala Dwyer and Michelle Nikou for the Fellowships.”

“Mikala's practice is well established and ever evolving. Firmly embedded in Sydney's arts community through her generous spirit and teaching, her work has continued to explore the alchemic potentials and latent histories of materials while challenging sculptural forms and notions of transformation. Mikala's upcoming solo exhibition at the Art Gallery of NSW is hugely exciting and will see her push the relationship between audience and objects.”

“Michelle has chosen to develop her highly distinct practice and successful artistic career from her base in Adelaide. Her works are characterised by a nuanced and poetic sensibility and commitment to material and technical exploration. Michelle has been at the forefront of artists working in the post-object lineage of the 1960s, refining a conceptual minimalist practice that has been highly influential to younger artists. Her Fellowship will be studio focused, with plans for intense research into new materials, development of new methodologies and potential collaborations,” they continued.

In the next year Dwyer will realise ambitious new work for a major solo exhibition at the Art Gallery of New South Wales (AGNSW) in August 2017, and present work internationally having been invited by the new Foundation Fiminco in Paris to participate in exhibition Triple Point of Matter.

“I'm grateful for this opportunity to really stretch my work into new forms, scales and materialities. With the institutional support of the gallery I believe I can do something I’ve never been able to do before. Creating a total work with four rooms and choreographing the experience of time and atmospheres through these spaces. This Fellowship is crucial to the realising of these projects and will uniquely help in extending and consolidating my practice into new realms,” said Dwyer.

Nikou will utilise the Fellowship to develop a new body of work and skills through a self-initiated program of professional development and research at the Lombok village of Sukarara, Indonesia. She will be learning traditional techniques of weaving incorporating natural dyes and materials.

“This timely Fellowship offers the opportunity to consolidate my practice by providing the resources to acquire knowledge, learn skills and techniques from master technicians in Indonesia that will prove of great benefit for the adaptive future of my practice. The realisation of this research journey will enable the further development of a practice committed to growth and exchange which I hope to share in a gallery setting on completion,” said Nikou.

Visual Arts Fellowship Winners 2016

Image (left to right): Mikala Dwyer, Square Cloud Compound, Magnetism curated by Vaari Claffy, 2015 Sligo, Ireland. Courtesy the artist; Michelle Nikou, Sylvia’s Jumper 2013, wool, cement, wood, 80 x 20 x 120cm. Courtesy the artist and Darren Knight Gallery.

Visual Arts Fellowship Winners