Melbourne-based artist and Victorian College of the Arts graduate Tina Stefanou has won the $50,000 Schenberg Arts Fellowship for her video works Horse Power (2019) and Antiphonea (2019).

The Schenberg Arts Fellowship granted by the Dr Harold Schenberg Bequest, is the most noteworthy awards for emerging artists in Australia.

The announcement was made on 9 October at the Hatched National Graduate Show 2020 closing event at the Perth Institute of Contemporary Arts (PICA).

Picked from a pool of 56 artists, Ms Stefanou came out on top and said that the fellowship has solidified her self belief.

“As an emerging artist you feel as if you are always fighting against a tide of doubt. 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,” Ms Stefanou said.

“Receiving the fellowship has been such an affirmation. I feel  that I can trust my inner world and my practice.”

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The young artist works across performance, movement, experimental voice, sculpture, moving image and sound when creating her art.

This year’s Fellowship judges were PICA director Amy Barrett-Lennard, Lawrence Wilson Art Gallery director Ted Snell and CEO of the Aboriginal Art Centre Hub WA Chad Creighton.

Horse Power (still) (2019) Photo: Andrew Kaineder

In a statement released by PICA, Ms Stefanou’s work was described by the judges as “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.

Ms Stefanou hopes to put the money to helping other artists turn their ideas and creativity into reality.

“The fellowship will provide the resources I have needed for such a long time…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.”

You can view some of Ms Stefanou’s art on her website.