Visual artist Jonathan Jones awarded $50,000 Create NSW & Artbank Fellowship

The Create NSW & Artbank Fellowship is awarded annually to provide a mid-career or established artist with the opportunity to undertake a self-directed program of professional development. The Fellowship offers a cash prize of $30,000 from Create NSW, a major Artbank commission of up to $20,000, and a five-week residency at one of the supporting regional galleries – Murray Arts Museum Albury (MAMA), and the Tweed Regional Gallery & Margaret Olley Arts Centre (TRGMOAC) in the Northern Rivers.

Create NSW Director of Sector Investment Sophia Zachariou presented the 2018 Fellowship to Jonathan Jones – a Sydney-based artist and a member of the Wiradjuri and Kamilaroi nations of south-east Australia who works across a range of mediums, from printmaking and drawing to sculpture and film.

‘Jonathan has a unique approach to his practice that forges a thoughtful connection between the cultural history of a site and his contemporary interpretation,’ said  Zachariou. His striking manipulation of patterning, line and light permeates his practice as a way of exploring his heritage and contemporary issues of land rights and cultural recognition. Untitled (fort) investigates the frontier wars in Australia and the ongoing complexities of the relationships between Indigenous people and colonial trespassers. Jones says the work evolved after viewing a single spear in the British Museum attributed to Fort Bourke, a stockade near the Paaka (Darling River). The stockade was built by Major Thomas Mitchell and his expedition to protect against possible attacks by the local Kurnu Paakantji people. The attack never came, and Jones questions how the Aboriginal cultural material of the area still came to be in colonial hands.

Jonathan Jones, Untitled (fort), 2015, wood, natural pigment, light emitting diodes, electrical cables. Courtesy the artist.

For his professional development, Jones will centre research on the Wiradjuri philosophy of galing (water), aiming to strengthen existing Wiradjuri ideas around this subject and develop new knowledge. His research project will be site-specific and focus around one of the three key rivers in Wiradjuri country, the Murrambidya (or Murrumbidgee River) under the guidance of Wiradjuri elder Uncle Stan Grant Senior.

Curated by Daniel Mudie Cunningham, the ‘2018 NSW Visual Artist Fellowship Exhibition’ includes a selection of recent works by Zanny Begg, Claire Healy and Sean Cordeiro, Jonathan Jones, Eugenia Raskopoulos, Keg de Souza, and Justene Williams, the six artists shortlisted for the award by an industry panel. The exhibition will run at Artbank, Sydney until 16 February, 2018.