Vale Kate Daw (1965-2020)

Art Almanac joins the Australian art community in mourning the loss of Kate Daw (1965-2020) who was a seminal figure in the Melbourne art scene as an artist, educator and advocate.

Kate Daw, 2018. Photograph: Giulia McGauran

Esperance born and Perth raised, Daw left Western Australia for Melbourne in 1987 to undertake her undergraduate studies at the Victorian College of the Arts, University of Melbourne, majoring in Painting. Her academic career flourished with continued studies, receiving a Masters degree from RMIT followed by a return to the VCA in 2006 to pursue a PhD examining the role of narrative in art, before eventually becoming the Head of the School of Art.

A practising artist who explored authorship, narrative and the creative process of her work, Daw has been the recipient of many grants and awards including the Samstag Scholarship and New Work grants from the Australia Council and Creative Victoria. Her work is held in numerous private and public collections including the National Gallery of Victoria, Art Gallery of Western Australia, University of Melbourne, Monash University and Artbank; and has been shown extensively since 1992 in exhibitions, biennales and art fairs, both nationally and internationally.

She has undertaken residencies at the Asialink studio in India, the Glasgow School of Art, the Victorian Tapestry Workshop and IASKA, among others and in 2010 she undertook the inaugural Basil Sellers Fellowship Melbourne’s MCG with frequent collaborator, Stewart Russell. Together they completed a large permanent artwork, Civil Twilight End at Docklands, Melbourne, in 2011. Daw has also worked on numerous collaborative projects with other artists throughout Australia as well as in India and Scotland.

Her role as an artist and mentor touched the lives of thousands of artists and art lovers alike. And the immediate outpour of tributes on social media upon the announcement of her death is testament to her indelible contributions and effect on Australian art.
‘In all of this’, writes Jon Cattapan, Professor of Visual Arts, University of Melbourne, ‘Kate was a true all-round influencer. She knew how to connect ideas and people, and this special skill was instrumental in her work, developing and mentoring the next generation of artists. She taught them to think deeply about how and why art can engage socially and politically and still be a personal and aesthetic undertaking. She allowed them to have fun with their ideas.’

Daw passed away on 8 September 2020 and is survived by partner Robert Hassan, and children Theo and Camille. We offer them our deepest condolences.

Kate Daw with a painting by Colleen Ahern for the Meet VCA Art feature, as part of the ART150 celebrations in 2017. Photograph: Giulia McGauran