2019 Sidney Myer Creative Fellows announced

The Sidney Myer Creative Fellowship is offered to early mid-career artists and arts managers across the entire spectrum of the visual, performing, interdisciplinary, new media and literary arts who meet the criterion of 'outstanding talent' and 'exceptional professional courage'.

The 2019 Sidney Myer Creative Fellowship has been awarded to the following nine exceptional mid-career artists: Lior Attar (music, VIC), Maxine Clarke (writing VIC), Ceridwen Dovey (writing, NSW), Natano Fa’anana (performance, QLD), Lydia Fairhall (producing, QLD), Alisdair Macindoe (dance, VIC), Ramesh Mario Nithiyendran (visual arts, NSW), Angela Tiatia (visual arts, NSW), and Emma Valente (theatre, VIC).

‘Courage is a word that is often bandied about, but real courage, as shown by these artists displays a fearlessness in making and producing their art.  This is important to them, but also to everyone at large.  We need artists to be free to speak through their art-making and to open our eyes on issues that are not always visible particularly as we struggle to comprehend an increasingly complex and divided society,’ says Andrew Myer AM, Chair of the Selection Panel.

For Maxine Beneba Clarke, ‘I’m extremely excited for the projects I’ll be able to tackle over the next few years as a result of this funding, and for the way it will broaden my experimentation, and allow me to grow and develop my writing practice.

As a black writer from a migrant background interested in diverse narratives, I’ve read about the challenges Sidney Myer faced on emigration to Melbourne in 1899. I was emotional when I found out I’d received a Fellowship, because one of the two core components of the assessment criteria was courage. It’s difficult to articulate the toll that making risk-taking challenging, personally exposing work can take on a creator. This extraordinary show of support for my writing is literally life changing’.

Ramesh Mario Nithiyendran. Photograph: Jacquie Manning

Each Fellow will receive an unrestricted and tax-free grant of $160,000 over a two-year period.

At the core of the Fellowships are the artists. The Fellowships are not tied to any specific outcome, instead, they provide a guaranteed income over a two-year period; ‘It is the gift of freedom and expansion and an investment into leading edge practice, both as an individual and in relation to the broader ecology,’ says Lydia Fairhall. ‘In art we find alignment with the best part of ourselves, our environment and our communities. I am deeply humbled to have this opportunity and to be able to take a few deep, long breaths to reimagine my own creativity and my highest, most aspirational vision for the world I want to leave future generations and the small part I might play in manifesting it.’

For visual artist Angela Tiatia, ‘there is a real sense of confirmation and responsibility to be joining the legacy of all the Sidney Myer fellows who, through the arts and humanities, have contributed so much to Australian life. I’m drawn to create work at a huge scale and some recent works have taken over a year to realise. The Sidney Myer Fellowship provides real and tangible encouragement and means to keep challenging what’s possible.’

The national Peer Review Panel for the 2019 Fellows included: Andrew Myer AM, Clare Watson, Elizabeth Walsh, Genevieve Lacey, Jo Dyer, Tarun Nagesh and Amos Gebhardt.