Natalya Hughes wins Michela and Adrian Fini Artist Fellowship

Brisbane-based artist awarded $20,000 Fellowship supporting women in visual art.

Words: Charlotte Middleton

The Sheila Foundation has awarded the 2021 Michela and Adrian Fini Artist Fellowship to Brisbane-based artist Natalya Hughes, represented by Sullivan + Strumpf, Eora/Sydney, and Milani Gallery, Meanjin/Brisbane. The $20,000 fellowship will support Hughes to create a body of new work for her forthcoming solo exhibition The Interior at the Institute of Modern Art (IMA), Meanjin/Brisbane, from 30 July–1 October 2022.

The Michela and Adrian Fini Artist Fellowship is unique in Australia because it supports the development of new work by contemporary female artists, at a critical juncture of their career, typically mid-career. It also assists in the presentation and documentation of the work at contemporary art spaces within the national Contemporary Art Organisations Australia (CAOA) network.

Hughes’ project The Interior will be a full-gallery installation that draws on mid-century aesthetics and the frictions between psychoanalytic theory and women, particularly Freud’s patient case studies. The work will continue Hughes’ concern with the feminine and with female bodies, taking on ‘the problem of women’ and recreating her interpretation of the therapist’s office.

“I’m so grateful to receive the 2021 Michela and Adrian Fini Fellowship,” said the artist. “It will allow me to work in ways that are both more ambitious and more embracing of the risks and challenges that experimentation pose. It’s so important to have that push to go further as an artist, and especially as female artist at this stage in my career.”

The Fellowship was established with donations from Sheila Foundation board member Michela Fini and her husband Adrian, and is awarded annually over three years. The IMA is the second CAOA partner to host the fellowship.

IMA Director Liz Nowell said, “Natalya Hughes is an exceptional artist and her immersive exhibition The Interior will form a highlight of the IMA’s 2022 Artistic Program. The generous support of the Fini Fellowship will allow her to experiment with new mediums and think about her work on a large and ambitious scale.”

The Sheila Foundation is a national philanthropic organisation for women in visual art with a mission to overturn decades of gender bias by writing Australian women artists back into our art history and ensuring equality for today’s women artists. By supporting a solo exhibition at a highly regarded Australian contemporary art space, the Fellowship enables leading women artists to connect with new audiences and develop career-defining works.

This article was originally published 7 December 2021.

Image: Portrait of Natalya Hughes by Rhett Hammerton.

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