Tara Gower scoops major Minderoo prize

27 July 2023

The winner of Minderoo Foundation’s $50, 000 Artist Fund prize has been announced, along with the organisation’s 2023 Artist Fund cohort.

Yawaru choreographer Tara Gower (pictured above) has been announced as the winner of Minderoo Foundation‘s $50, 000 Artist Fund Award for 2023.

The prize will enable Gower to set up her own rehearsal space and expand her Kimberley-based contemporary First Nations dance project, Burrb Wanggarraju Nurlu.

The Minderoo Foundation has also announced its 2023 Artist Fund cohort, which sees six mid-career artists received $25,000 grants and four artists received residencies valued at $15,000. The ten artists were selected by a judging panel that included actor Ernie Dingo AM, Perth Festival director Iain Grandage, photographer Frances Andrijich, singer-songwriter Alexia Parenzee and Malinda Wink, executive director of Minderoo Pictures.

The six mid-career artists selected to receive $25,000 are Bruno Booth, Cristy Burne, Chloe Flockart, Thea Rossen, Holden Sheppard and Scott Wilson.

The 2023 cohort: L-R John Hartman, Minderoo Foundation CEO, Chloe Flockart,
Holden Sheppard, Nicole Murphy, Cassandra Nguyen, Thea Rossen, Bruno Booth, Cristy Burne, Annabel Smith, Merrick Belyea, Scott Wilson. Photo: Emma Dolzadelli, Minderoo Foundation 

Multidisciplinary artist Bruno Booth will create sculptures and costumes inspired by the covers of 70s and 80s fantasy novels, and record interviews with people who are economically marginalised. He will fuse these elements into visual displays, all informed by a residency he will undertake in Port Hedland.

Cristy Burne, a children’s author who brings together story, science, technology and creativity, will develop a theatre work on positive STEAM stories for children, and then develop a verse novel with Fremantle Press.

Chloe Flockart is a multidisciplinary artist. She will work with communities in WA’s Wheatbelt to create a sculpture series of native animals either extinct or near extinction, from the local biosphere. Entitled Slow Dusk, the work will use materials traditionally found in the agricultural industry.

Percussionist and composer Thea Rossen will expand her 50-minute light, interactive projection and music performance piece Conditions of Growth.

Holden Sheppard, author of the bestseller Invisible Boys, will advance the writing and development of the sequel to that novel, Dead Straight.

Gooniyandi and Gadgerong man Scott Wilson is the co-creator of the INDIGIVERSE First Nations superhero comics. He will enlist First Nations creatives to help produce two new comic series.

The four artists receiving residencies are: Merrick Belyea, Nicole Murphy, Cassandra Nguyen and Annabel Smith.

Visual artist Merrick Belyea will travel to Minderoo Station in the remote Pilbara to create drawings that capture the area’s unique landscape. He will then paint a series of large scale diptych and triptych works that attempt to capture the vastness of WA.

Brisbane-based composer Nicole Murphy will travel to Exmouth Research Laboratory to create new works for piano and wind orchestra, inspired by the Ningaloo coast and the laboratory’s research.

Screenwriter, director and producer Cassandra Nguyen will spend a month at Forrest Hall, an accommodation facility on the Swan River, Perth, designed to house visiting scholars and academics. She will work on her new screen project Spanning Distance.

Perth-based US author Annabel Smith will also spend a month at Forrest Hall, writing a novel exploring motherhood, mental health, identity and therapy.

The winner of the $50,000 Minderoo Artist Fund Award is chosen every year from the previous year’s cohort of artists. Alongside Tara Gower, the 2022 cohort included Laurie Steed, Kathryn Lefroy, Tineke Van der Ecken, Lucy Peach, Claire Martin, Mikaela Castledine, Sid Pattni, Yvan Karlsson and Melle Branson.

Pictured top: Tara Gower, winner of Minderoo Foundation’s Artist Fund prize. Photo: Emma Dolzadelli, Minderoo Foundation 

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Nina Levy

Nina Levy has worked as an arts writer and critic since 2007. She co-founded Seesaw and has been co-editing the platform since it went live in August 2017. As a freelancer she has written extensively for The West Australian and Dance Australia magazine, co-editing the latter from 2016 to 2019. Nina loves the swings because they take her closer to the sky.

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