VCA Graduate Tina Stefanou wins $50,000 Schenberg Arts Fellowship

Tina Stefanou, Horse Power, (still) 2019.  Photo by Andrew Kaineder.
Tina Stefanou, Horse Power, (still) 2019. Photo by Andrew Kaineder.

"I feel like I've woken up in another universe" – The Schenberg Art Fellowship 2020, a cash prize of $50,000, has been awarded to Bachelor of Fine Arts (Honours) graduate of the Victorian College of the Arts, Tina Stefanou, for her works Horse Power (2019) and Antiphonea (2019).

This generous fellowship, made possible by the Dr Harold Schenberg Bequest, is the most significant award for emerging artists in Australia. The announcement was made at the Hatched National Graduate Show 2020 closing event, Night School, at Perth Institute of Contemporary Arts (PICA) on Friday 9 October.

"As an emerging artist you feel as if you are always fighting against a tide of doubt", says Stefanou, "We are in a constant state of endurance. You wonder whether what you’re doing is ever going to echo in other people’s hearts. Receiving the fellowship has been such an affirmation. I feel  that I can trust my inner world and my practice."

Tina Stefanou is an Australian-Greek artist who works across performance, installation, painting, sculpture, video, and music and was selected from a pool of 56 of the most promising emerging artists nationally for inclusion in the exhibition. This is the eleventh year that PICA has worked with the University of Western Australia (UWA) and the UWA Cultural Precinct to present the Schenberg Art Fellowship to one outstanding Hatched artist.

The judges of this year’s Fellowship were Amy Barrett-Lennard, Director, PICA, Ted Snell, Director, Lawrence Wilson Art Gallery, and Chad Creighton, CEO, Aboriginal Art Centre Hub WA. The judges felt that Tina Stefanou’s work is an extremely sophisticated and conceptually rigorous work that is highly poetic, beautifully resolved, full of ideas and infused with an underlying sense of gentle humour.

“The paired video works were incredibly absorbing, drawing the viewer into their spell, encouraging us all to reflect on the artist’s family history, which foregrounds universal themes of ageing, empathy and recognition.  It is an accomplished work that welds together music and the visual arts in a seamless amalgam,” they said.

Fellowship recipient Tina Stefanou said, “I feel incredibly privileged to be the recipient of the Schenberg Art Fellowship, especially in the company of such powerful work by some of the country's strongest emerging voices. I would like to thank the judges and the Schenberg Art Fellowship, UWA Cultural Precinct for the award and the continuing support for emerging artists in this country.”

“The fellowship will provide the resources I have needed for such a long time. It is deeply life-changing and affirming for an emerging artist in these precarious times. As well as producing a new body of work, I am hoping to establish the first few building blocks of an artist-run transdisciplinary residency outside of Melbourne, where artists and other makers can come together with community to imagine new possibilities of artistic practice; moving forward, and sideways, in the ever shifting conditions of contemporary life.”

Senior Lecturer and Coordinator of the Bachelor of Fine Arts (Honours) program in Visual Art Cate Consandine reflected on Tina's achievement:

"Tina is a strikingly talented artist. With a captivating sense of purpose, she moves in the world with generosity and grace. In the Honours program Tina developed a deeply affecting body of work. With limited resources she pulled favours from everyone and everywhere, and worked tirelessly. The award of the Hatched PICA Prize is so deserved and will most certainly resource an ambitious body of new work that flexes and invents in the space of research and artistic production."

Tina is now in her first year of the Master of Fine Art (Visual Art) at the Faculty, and is looking forward to a residence at Cementa – a unique, regionally situated, artist-led organisation dedicated to cultivating contemporary art in a regional context.

Read the full media release from Pica here.