Words: Charlotte Middleton
Two distinguished Australian artists, Reko Rennie and Angela Valamanesh, are the latest recipients of the Mordant Family/Australia Council Affiliated Fellowship at the American Academy in Rome. Established in 2017, the Affiliated Fellowship is made possible by the Australia Council for the Arts through the generous support of the Mordant family.
A renowned interdisciplinary artist, Reko Rennie (represented by STATION Gallery, Sydney | Melbourne) explores his First Nations identity through contemporary media. His primarily autobiographical works draw from the iconography of his Kamilaroi heritage with stylistic elements of graffiti, integrating traditional diamond-shaped designs, hand-drawn symbols, and repetitive patterns to challenge traditional ideologies of Aboriginal identity. During his two-month fellowship, Rennie plans to research marble sculpture for future works and to travel to Carrara, Italy to speak with local artisans.
Recent works by leading Australian ceramicist Angela Valamanesh (represented by Gallery Sally Dan-Cuthbert, Sydney) consist of organic forms linking plant, human, and animal. The artist finds inspiration in the diversity seen in nature, and her in-depth research into such forms allows her art to offer insight into the patterns of the natural world. Valamanesh will use the fellowship to research early Roman ceramics, including mosaics, votive offerings, and functional objects.
“We are delighted to extend this opportunity to two more exemplary Australian artists—including, for the first time, a First Nations recipient,” commented AAR Board of Trustees member Simon Mordant AO on behalf of the Mordant family.
“Reko Rennie has already achieved considerable recognition within Australia and internationally with his dynamic and provocative work.”
“Angela Valamanesh is also a highly experienced and established artist whose intriguing and highly personal work has traversed a number of mediums over more than four decades,” Mordant continued.
“We look forward to seeing what they will produce, drawing on the world-class resources of the American Academy.”
Rennie and Valamanesh are the fifth and sixth recipients of this opportunity, following previous recipients Barbara Campbell, Alex Seton, Jenny Watson, and Lynne Roberts Goodwin.
“This residency offers a unique opportunity for Australian artists to extend their international networks and to further develop their practice, with access to a wealth of history and resources at the American Academy in Rome,” said Adrian Collette AM, Australia Council CEO.
“We thank the Mordant family for their continued support.”
This article was posted 14 September 2022.
Image: Reko Rennie (photograph by Roger D. Souza) and Angela Valamanesh (photograph from Gallery Sally Dan-Cuthbert).