The AGSA announced at the start of last month that it had “reinvigorated” its South Australian Artist Fund to offer several $10,000 grants for the express purpose of helping artists experiencing difficulties due to the pandemic, with no presentation outcomes expected of those who received funds.
Almost 100 South Australian artists, collectives and art centres applied for the bursaries.
The six successful recipients, selected by an internal panel, are acclaimed photographer Trent Parke, APY Lands art centre Mimili Maku Arts, glass blower Liam Fleming, emerging painter Jasmine Crisp, mixed-media artist Sue Kneebone, and studio collective Switchboard Studios.
AGSA director Rhana Devenport said they represented a breadth of South Australia’s visual arts practice.
“We deeply believe in the vital contribution of artists to our world, and hope the bursaries will provide these artists and art collectives support during such a critical time of heightened uncertainty,” she said.
Parke – whose work has been exhibited widely, including in his solo show The Black Rose at the AGSA in 2015 – said COVID-19 had had a major effect on his life and work, including through the postponement or cancellation of exhibitions in Australia and overseas.
The impact of the shutdown has been amplified by the fact that his partner, Narelle Autio, is also an artist.
“This bursary has come at a critical time for my family and I,” Parke said.
“It will allow me to continue to make new work during this difficult time – something that I didn’t think was going to be possible.”
The other bursary recipients have been similarly affected by the pandemic restrictions through reduced sales of their work and cancelled or postponed exhibitions, residencies and other projects.
Kneebone was in the middle of a residency in Fort Kochi in southern India when the pandemic forced the closure of borders, with the bursary now enabling her to continue her research into the social and environmental legacies of colonisation, as well as developing new work.
While Kneebone has sustained her own artistic practice for almost 20 years, fellow recipient Crisp is in the first year of her career as a professional full-time artist. The young painter lost the opportunity to participate in the Melbourne Art Fair and to attend an art event in San Francisco due to the pandemic, but has continued to develop a new body of work as artist-in-residence at Praxis ARTSPACE in Bowden and described the additional support as “incredibly uplifting and motivating”.
Anangu-owned Mimili Maku Arts, based within the Everard Ranges in the APY Lands, says it has faced a significant drop in art sales in recent months. It will use the grant to help artists whose income has been hardest hit, and to support young artists helping develop a cultural archive.
“Our art centre helps along our young artists and workers. They learn from us old people every day,” said Tuppy Goodwin, chairperson of Mimili Maku Arts.
“This is why we need to keep the art centre strong now – for the next generation, malatja malatja. This will be a special project for everyone here in Mimili, learning about telling stories in different ways. We want our young artists to learn, so they can have strong future.”