Industry News Apr-May

Latest industry news from the visual and media arts, craft and design sector, April / May 2018.

In the News

British art celebrity, Damien Hirst revealed his new series of paintings at this year's international art fair, Art Basel, Hong Kong. The works have been called out for directly plagiarising a unique style of dot painting by a community of Indigenous female artists in Utopia, Alice Springs, including notable artists, Emily Kame Kngwarreye and Polly Ngale. Fighting the appropriation of Indigenous art style is a long battle that artists have had to face for decades. Hirst's show sold out on opening day collecting a reported total of $18 million.


There have been further crackdowns on the manufacture and sale of fake Indigenous souvenirs and art, with many news stories warning consumers and informing them about how to tell if an object is inauthentic.

Also at Art Basel, the infamous Guerilla Girls - a collective known for their confrontational approach to exposing gender inequity in art institutions - set up a stall outside of the paid section of the fair displaying the statistics of women being shown or represented (or lack thereof) in the fair.

In Awards and Prizes

Tom Moore has been announced as the the winner of the 16th annual acquisitive Tom Malone Prize for his work, Pyrotechnic puffer fish. The prize is hosted by the Art Gallery of Western Australia and honours contemporary Australian glass artistsThis is been the second time Moore has received the Tom Malone Prize.

Steve Lopes has won the 14th annual $20,000 Gallipoli Art Prize with his landscape painting of Mont St Quentin battlefield in reference to World War I. The painting prize was designed to honour the memory of the ANZACs and is open to artists born in Australia, New Zealand or Turkey or hold Australian, New Zealand or Turkish citizenship. 


Camille Hannah has been announced as the winner of the $10,000 Wyndham Art Prize with her Perspex painting in Werribee, Victoria.


The Finalists for this year's prestigious John Fries Award have been announced. In the running for the annual $10,000 award are Akil Ahamat, Betty Muffler, Beyula Napanangka Puntungka, Emily Parsons-Lord, James Nguyen, Jelena Telecki, Laura Hindmarsh, Leyla Stevens, Lisa Sammut, Paul Greedy, Rachael Mipantjiti Lionel, and Rochelle Haley

Lara Merrett has been award the 2018 Bella Room Commission from the Museum of Contemporary Art Australia (MCA). Each year an artist is commissioned to create an installation for the Bella Room - a dedicated space within the National Centre for Creative Learning for audiences to engage with contemporary art through sensory experience. Merrett's artwork will be unveiled on 23 May.

Teenaged artist, Dilara Niriella from Bella Vista has won the 30th Anniversary of the Mosman Youth Art Prize with a painting of her father, a surgeon. The Mosman Youth Art Prize is one of the many prizes in the annual competition organised by Mosman Council. Its aim is to encourage young artists and provide a platform for their work.

In Governments

Minister for the Arts Mitch Fifield has announced that Sam Walsh AO will succeed Rupert Myer as Chair of the  Australia Council for the Arts. The Australia Council is Australian Government's arts funding and advisory body.


The Arts Party has announced its new team which is now led by previous NAVA Chair, Barry Keldoulis as the leader. PJ Collins has taken role as Secretary.

A By-election is being held for the Lord Mayor of Melbourne. Included in the candidates is artist, Katie Sfetkidis. NAVA recently hosted a panel of Lord Mayor candidates outlining their position on the arts. Voting is open now until May 11 in a postal ballot.

A decision has been made to release the financial report on the Powerhouse Museum's move from Ultimo to Parramatta. Discussion around the move of the museum is a point of tension for local governments and has divided the public. Generally, this tension has arisen because there has been no explanation from the government about the reasoning behind the move and what will happen to the iconic Ultimo site. 

Creative Victoria has announced the theme for this year's annual Creative State Summit at Melbourne Museum, which is "Creativity in a Post-Truth World". The aim of the theme is to provoke delegates to think about the role creative practitioners, organisations and institutions can play in influencing, reflecting and interpreting our times. The summit will be held on the 14 - 15 June.

The Turnbull Government has announced the appointment of Alison Kubler as a member of the Council of the National Gallery of Australia (NGA) for three years. She has 20 years of museum and gallery experience and is currently on the board for the Museum of Brisbane and is an ambassador for the Institute of Modern Art and the Queensland Gallery of Modern Art.

In Galleries

The National has announced Clothilde Bullen, Daniel Mudie Cunningham, Anna Davis and Isobel Parker Philip as Curators for the 2019 exhibition. This will be the second incarnation of the bi-annual exhibition, spanning across three venues, Carriageworks, the MCA, and the Art Gallery of New South Wales. 


Dr Mark Crees has been appointed Interim Director, Project Implementation Team at the National Aboriginal Art Gallery by the Acting Minister for Tourism and Culture, Eva Lawler. The new gallery will be in Alice Springs. Lawler states that the Gallery will become a globally significant institution that celebrates Aboriginal art and culture and create jobs.’ His position is only temporary until a permanent director is appointed. Crees is the current Director of Araluen Cultural Precinct.


Magda Keaney is the new Artistic Director for Canberra Glassworks. She has been the acting Artistic Director for the past 6 months and has now been appointed permanently. Keany has an extensive curatorial history, both in Australia and London.

Seventh Gallery has announced a restructure which includes four new board members, Andy Butler, Diego Ramirez, Siying Zhou and Hanann Al Daqqa as well as a 30% decrease in gallery hire fees.

In Organisations

CEO and Director of Heide Museum of Modern Art, Dr Natasha Cica has resigned after a year in the role. She is the latest in a string of resignations, with 2017 seeing sixteen staff leave their posts.


Scott O’Hara has been appointed the new CEO of Accessible Arts. His experience includes cultural leadership roles at Community Cultural Development NSW, Arts, Sydney Olympic Park, Sutherland Shire Council and Governance roles at Arts Training NSW and Randwick Psychology Centre.


Lauretta Morton has been appointed the new director of Newcastle Art Gallery and Julie Baird, the new director of Newcastle Museum. They have both been deeply involved with each institution and were appointed by Newcastle City Council as part of its new organisation design.


The board of Multicultural Arts Victoria announced resignation of Jill Morgan AM, the CEO of the organisation. She devoted 15 years to the position and to advocating the importance of multiculturalism as a core value of the Australian Culture. MAV is now calling for expressions of interest for the position.

In Festivals

One hundred and twenty four artists participated in Australia’s biggest environmental arts project over the Easter weekend in Tasmania’s takayna / Tarkine. In its 4th year, Tarkine in Motion, hosted by the Bob Brown Foundation, revealed fresh logging in Tasmania’s Tarkine rainforests and illegal off-road vehicle damage to the National Heritage listed Aboriginal cultural landscape. 

The inaugural Kyneton Contemporary Art Triennial recently took place 14 - 22 April, under the theme Force Fields. The Triennial displayed ten Australian artists throughout the town of Kyneton which is in regional Victoria, south of Bendigo and north of Ballarat. The artists featured were Chee Yong, David Attwood, Elvis Richardson, Georgie Mattingley, Jessie Stanley, Make or Break, Meagan Streader, Sarah Rudledge and Tom Borgas. 

In Education

The first Yolngu printmaker from northeast Arnhem Land, Banduk Marika, has been honoured with a doctorate from Flinders University in recognition of her contributions as a First Nations artist and cultural advocate for the Yolngu people.

The National Art School is now offering the first non-university visual arts doctorate. Offered as a three-year full-time, or six-year part-time degree, the Doctor of Fine Art (DFA) is tailored towards practicing artists who wish to pursue their individual research interests, refine their studio practice, and work towards developing their professional artistic careers. Applications are now open for degrees commencing in July 2018.

The National Art School has also announced a new partnership with APY Art Centre Collective. The APY Art Centre Collective is a group of ten Indigenous owned and governed enterprises located in the APY Lands, who have recently opened an independent gallery in Sydney. NAS will work with the group on the APY Photography Program, the APY Weapons for the Soldier program, and a collaborative APY and National Art School art skills development program. 


Renowned photographic artist, Polixeni Papapetrou has died at age 57 after a long battle with cancer. Collected and exhibited all over the world, and recognised by many awards, Polixeni was active as a mentor and collaborator, with a strong interest in the platforms that artists can create for one another. She was a NAVA Member across two decades, a founding member of the Centre for Contemporary Photography, and a forthright contributor to public debate as an artist and a feminist. 


Tate Adams AM, regarded by many as the Godfather of Printmaking, has died age 96. Adams was a major Donor to Artspace Mackay, major regional art gallery in Queensland. He gifted the gallery a huge amount of artists' books and contributed philanthropically to the development of the Gallery which contributed immensely to the contemporary art landscape.


Stuart Devlin AO CMG, the designer of Australia’s coins, has died age 86. He won a competition in 1964 that resulted in him designing all of the Australian coins, except for the $2. The coins were among many objects that Devlin designed throughout his career.