The National Art School Fellowship acknowledges the achievements of eminent visual artists, arts administrators, writers, advocates and academics who have made outstanding contributions to the visual arts community in Australia. The Fellowship is an honorary award for exceptional achievement and / or service within the professional domain, awarded annually by the National Art School.
In 2017, the National Art School was honoured to bestow the Fellowship of the National Art School on Fiona Foley, Peter Powditch AM and Tim Storrier AM.
The 2017 Fellows were honoured at a celebratory dinner on Thursday 18 May 2017, held at the National Art School in the gallery space that was once the studio of celebrated Australian sculptor and NAS teacher, Rayner Hoff within the wonderful Postgraduate Centre, opened last year.
Presented at the annual Graduation ceremony alongside completing Bachelor and Master of Fine Art students, the Fellowship is the School’s highest award. Director Steven Alderton says of the Fellows: “In recognising these three prominent alumni, we are recognising their immense contributions to Australian art. Their work and their careers are inspirations to our students.”
Powditch’s award was presented after a citation from his childhood friend and contemporary artist, Ron Robertson-Swann OAM, the National Art School’s Head of Sculpture. Foley’s citation was presented by curator and writer Djon Mundine and Storrier’s by Catharine Lumby, who wrote a book of Storrier’s work in 2000.
Artist, writer and curator Fiona Foley is a Badtjala woman from Hervey Bay and Fraser Island in southeast Queensland. She completed a Certificate in Arts at the National Art School in 1983; while studying, she was a visiting student to the prestigious St Martins School of Art in London. She works across a range of media, including digital video, photography, sculpture, painting and installation. A co-founder of the Boomalli Aboriginal Artists Co-operative in 1987, her work examines and dismantles historical and cultural stereotypes, and explores a broad range of themes that relate to politics, culture, ownership, language and identity. Her works have revealed little known and un-acknowledged atrocities or underlying racist attitudes throughout Australia’s recent histories regarding Aboriginal and Chinese and have brought to public consciousness the systemic violence of a colonial past toward Aboriginal nations, particularly in Queensland. Foley has held numerous solo and group exhibitions both in Australia and overseas, including a major solo exhibition at the Museum of Contemporary Art in 2010, and her commissioned public art can be found in major cultural sites in Sydney, Melbourne, Canberra and Brisbane. She is Adjunct Professor at the University of Queensland and a Board member of the Gallery of Modern Art in Brisbane
“I have very fond memories of two lecturers who were inspirational teachers, who taught me about life in the arts; Geoffrey De Groen and Bruce McCalmont. Bruce taught me to be true to sculptural form and not to ‘put the icing on the cake’. In other words, not to bring the seeds in from the date palms surrounding the buildings and sprinkle them on top. He encouraged me to look and think at a deeper level. The early eighties in Sydney were my formative years. The atmosphere with other students was warm and many of us forged life-long friendships.” Fiona Foley, 2017
Peter Powditch AM is a painter, printmaker and sculptor who studied at the National Art School from 1960-1963. He originally started in the commercial art department, but in his second year switched to sculpture with Lyndon Dadswell, where he studied for three years. He also studied at a small school in the Rocks under Robert Klippel, John Passmore and John Olsen. He had his first exhibition in 1966 at Gallery A, before moving to Rudy Komon’s stable and then Ray Hughes Gallery. His work developed a unique style of flattening the picture plane, focusing on line and drawing out depth, particularly through the use of female figures. Powditch returned to NAS to teach from 1968-1973. He won the Sulman Prize in 1972, and continues to stage regular exhibitions nationally and internationally today, including a recent retrospective earlier in 2017 at S.H. Ervin Gallery. His work is held in the National Gallery of Australia, most major state and regional gallery collections.
“Lyndon Dadswell taught me to see. John Olsen taught me what to see.” Peter Powditch, 2017
Tim Storrier AM studied at NAS from 1967-1969 and is a celebrated symbolic landscape painter. His ‘burning rope’ paintings are some of the best known in contemporary Australian art, and his totemic images of saddles, knives, bottles and cooking implements link Australia’s exploration history with contemporary life. Storrier has exhibited widely, both in Australia, where major survey exhibitions of his work have been held at the Art Gallery of NSW and the Art Gallery of WA, and internationally in Japan, the United States and the United Kingdom. Storrier has won the Sulman Prize twice, in 1968 and 1984, and the Archibald Prize in 2012. Two major monographs have been published about the artist, and his works are held by the Museum of Modern Art, NY, the National Gallery of Australia and most state galleries.
“It was raining and I was playing the Beatles ‘Help’ on the stereogram the morning before I went to the East Sydney Technical College to be tested for admittance in 1967. 50 years later I reflect that the gift of critically seeing the visual world and being able to translate it was given to me by the men and women at this grand old institution.” Tim Storrier, 2017