An innovative teaching and research program has provided art and design students at Monash University with a unique opportunity to study first-hand the work of visiting international artists and designers. KAREN STICHTENOTH reports.
Ceramicist Richard Slee was artist/designer-in-residence during March and April this year.
The Artist/Designer in Residence Program conducted by Monash's Faculty of Art and Design has paved the way for many contemporary artists to teach and display their art to an appreciative audience of students and staff alike.
Since its inception in 2000, the program has attracted respected artists and designers from around the world keen to promote cultural dialogue. They come with backgrounds in painting, sculpture, drawing, metals and jewellery, print-making, ceramics, graphic design, industrial design and glass.
According to Professor Bernard Hoffert, associate dean, International, at Monash's Faculty of Art and Design, the arrange-ment has introduced an exciting and stimulating aspect to the faculty's teaching and research program.
"The Artist/Designer in Residence Program enhances the studio education that is the focus of art and design studies at Monash and provides students with an opportunity to view international trends and developments emerging in art and design," Professor Hoffert says. "The program also facilitates exchange and ongoing relationships between artists and designers and the faculty as whole.
"We have had artists visiting from the UK, the US, Korea, Japan, China, Europe and New Zealand. Participants stay on campus at the faculty's apartments in Caulfield and spend their time in the studio teaching, researching and delivering guest lectures. At the end of their stay, their work is exhibited at the Faculty Gallery, which is another plus for both students and the public."
The program has been designed to reflect Art and Design's overall commit-ment to international education and complements study programs established by the faculty at the Monash centres in Prato and London.
The first artist to take part in the program was Italian painter Murizio Bottarelli, whose exhibition, The Resources of Chance, drew its inspiration from Australia's desert environment. Bottarelli spent three months as artist-in-residence and was an important international link to the university given the relatively recent establishment of the Prato centre in Italy.
Last year's program featured renowned international artist Stelarc, a 1972 fine arts graduate back in the days when the Caulfield campus was known as Caulfield Technical College.
The celebrated installation artist inspired all those in his orbit with Alternate Interfaces, an exhibition which showcased three of his best known works supported by documentation and video footage of his dramatic performance-based art at the Faculty Gallery last October.
"Stelarc's involvement in our program was a major coup for the faculty, especially as he is an internationally recognised artist as well as the winner of numerous Australia Council and Myer Foundation grants and a three-year Australia Council Fellowship awarded in 1995," Professor Hoffert says.
"As he is one of our most high-profile graduates, we were delighted to host an exhibition of his work. He is known all over the world for his conceptional, performance and body art, and has made a major contribution to discourse on contemporary art through his research into the interface between art and technology, especially robotics."
The 2003 program features at least seven artists or designers residing at the faculty for between four and 16 weeks each. Highlights so far include Richard Slee, a ceramicist from Britain who undertook his residency during March and April.
Chi Wo Leung, a visual artist from Hong Kong, will visit for seven weeks during June and July. Leung's work stretches across photography, mixed media art, sculpture, drawing, publishing and book design. He has completed a master of fine arts at the Chinese University of Hong Kong and has exhibited widely overseas, including at the Hong Kong pavilion at the Venice Biennale.
Australian printmaker Neil Emmerson will showcase his works during a three-month period from August to October.
The program will also feature Deanna Petherbridge, Arnolfini Professor of Draw-ing at the University of the West of England, Bristol, who will be in residence from July.
She has undertaken several large-scale mural projects, including the concert hall at Birmingham International Convention Centre, and her work is housed in major collections in Britain and the US. In 1996, she was awarded a CBE for services to drawing and is currently working on a major historical study on the practice and theory of drawing.
"The Faculty of Art and Design at Monash is a national leader in education, research and practice and aims to produce talented and skilled graduates who will shape the future of art and design, nationally and globally," Professor Hoffert says.
"The Artist/Designer in Residence Program forms part of a dedicated process of preparing our students for professional art and design practice at the highest level. The artists and designers visiting during 2003 will add to the considerable reputation the program has already acquired in just over two years of operation."
For more information on the Artist/Designer in Residence Program and 2003 exhibitions at the Faculty Gallery, visit www.artdes.monash.edu.au. Visitors to the Faculty Gallery on the Caulfield campus are welcome, and admission is free.