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Australia New fund driving creativity in the West

21:31  05 august  2021
21:31  05 august  2021 Source:   aap.com.au

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From social documentary photography to experimental film, creative vision is being identified and championed in the West.

a woman smiling for the camera: Nicola Forrest says independent artists are the lifeblood of a thriving creative sector. © Mick Tsikas/AAP PHOTOS Nicola Forrest says independent artists are the lifeblood of a thriving creative sector.

Ten artists from Western Australia, many of them multidisciplinary, were on Thursday night named inaugural recipients of the Minderoo Foundation Artist Fund.

First announced in April, the annual program of grants and residencies aims to support mid-career artists whose livelihoods and careers have been impacted by COVID-19.

At a ceremony in Perth, Minderoo Foundation co-founder Nicola Forrest awarded $25,000 grants to six artists, and $10,000 residencies to a further four artists.

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Photographer Claudia Caporn will use her $25,000 grant to photograph women who work in WA's agricultural sector for her project, Western Australian Women of the Land.

Caporn, who grew up on a wheat and sheep farm in the Central Wheatbelt, said she wanted to probe at the essence of rural Australia and tell untold stories.

"Historically, farmers in Australia have been painted as white, heterosexual, tough men, and this has often meant that women are labelled as domestics or farmers' wives," Caporn said.

"I want this project to photograph the truth in the industry. Ultimately, I want to use this body of work to celebrate women in agriculture and inspire women to consider a job in agriculture."

The photographer is inspired by her mother, who was born and raised in Northam and became a schoolteacher before marrying Caporn's father.

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"She's been a farmer for the past 25 years," Caporn said.

"For me, she epitomises the tough rural woman. She has this grit about her that I think all farm women possess, and capturing that essence is really what's inspired me to take on this project."

Fellow grant recipient Sukhjit Khalsa will make a series of experimental short films about country and kinship.

Jay Emmanuel's theatre piece, Generations, will track an Indian-Australian family over four generations.

And Nathan Beard will replicate an array of exotic fruits for his work Mango Diaspora.

Painter and carver Daniel Walbidi and his father will teach men from their community of Bidyadanga, 180km south of Broome, how to carve boomerangs, tools and spears the traditional way.

And Amy Perejuan-Capone's large-scale sculpture and video work, Defendo, explores the life of the artist's grandfather, a Ballardong Noongar man who served as an aircraftsman for the RAAF.

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Deb Fitzpatrick, Graham Hay, Emily Honey and Louis Frere-Harvey have been selected for the residencies.

Forrest also announced a surprise $50,000 award, to be presented to one of the 10 recipients at the end of the funding round.

"Independent artists are the lifeblood of a thriving creative sector, and we know it takes more than project funding to sustain an artistic career," Forrest said.

"That's why we've decided to establish the Minderoo Artist Fund Award, to provide further security for our talented WA artists to pursue their creative endeavours," she said.

"(This will be) in recognition of their exceptional achievement while delivering their project and the contribution the work has made to the community."

Forrest said she was excited by the prospect of artistic cross-pollination as the recipients get to know each other and pursue their projects.

"I can see there are going to be some amazing collaborations between some of the grant recipients and the artists in residence," she said. "And we will certainly create opportunities for them to come together."

Minderoo Foundation was established by Forrest and her husband Andrew Forrest in 2001. The philanthropic foundation receives funding through dividends from Fortescue Metals Group, the publicly listed company founded in 2003.

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