Announced at the end of PICA’s Hatched exhibition, the Schenberg Art Fellowship is a $50,000 cash prize awarded to one of the artists selected for the Hatched exhibition. It is the most significant award for emerging artists in Australia.

This year, the fellowship has been awarded to Tina Stefanou, a recent honours graduate of Victorian College of the Arts, Melbourne University, for her works Horse Power (2019) and Antiphonea (2019), both exhibited as part of Hatched. She was selected from a pool of 56 of the most promising graduate artists nation-wide, of which 24 were picked for exhibit.

Tina Stefanou: Image by Andrew Kaineder

Speaking to Tina about her plans for the fellowship, she revealed her intention to put some of the prize money aside for the creation of a new body of work, as well as addressing projects she has previously had to put off.

She also discussed how she will use the fellowship to lay down the building blocks for a trans-disciplinary residency program, designed to support precarious artists, as well as other makers, thinkers, planters and creative minds. The idea for this residency is to bring the community together from their various areas of expertise, to create and develop new forms of artistic practice, moving both forwards and sideways, as she does when experimenting within her own work.

Horse Power (2019): Image by Andrew Kaineder

Both of Tina’s works exhibited in Hatched are audio-visual, drawing from her experience with sound as an experimental vocalist. Horse Power explores the sound world of her Grandmother’s voice, exploring themes of ageing and empathy, and activated by the visuals and sounds of carefully-ornamented horses, exploring the ornamentation in her Grandmother’s own voice. The horses belong to a retired herd on a nearby rural property, and Tina intends to collaborate with them again in the future. She is also artistically informed by her own animals, including her cattle dog and chickens, who she spends time listening to and observing their movements. She follows this multi-species approach to explore their role in culture from a collaborative view, as they have been part of culture from the beginning of civilisation, having been utilised for everything from agriculture to fashion and music.

See Horse Power (2019) and Antiphonea (2019) in situ at PICA in the video below:

Her other exhibited work, Antiphonea, grapples with a history of a lack of female voices in art and art music, and features three naked double-bass players walking around in a circle attempting to play music by prolific medieval composer Hildegard von Bingen. The performers constantly appear to be struggling, as all their faults are seemingly laid bare, playing from a disadvantaged position to begin with (Classical Double Bass is usually played seated upon a high stool).

Tina Stefanou is constantly exploring what it means to be an artist, especially situated within an ever-shifting contemporary landscape. She envisions the future of art to lie with an emphasis on connection and collaboration, with people, animals and ecologies, doing away with elite spaces and grant economies, and replacing it with sustainable practice, for artists and those who appreciate it alike.

Cover image by Bo Wong

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