Dame Joan Sutherland Fund
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Dame Joan Sutherland Fund
Recipients 2016


Michael Grebla

Composer & Producer
Course/project: Masters in Music Composition at New England Conservatory

Michael is a composer from Perth Western Australia and has recently commence a Masters of Music at the New England Conservatory, Boston. Michael was awarded the 2016 General Sir John Monash Scholarship and received a merit based entry scholarship to NEC, which in addition to the DJSF grant support his studies in Boston. He studied a bachelor of Mechanical Engineering and Bachelor of Music Composition with First Class Honours at the University of Western Australia. During his time at UWA, Michael received the JM Wolff, Knight and WA Wagner Society’s Bayreuth music scholarships and was awarded the Bryant Stokes Matilda Award for Cultural Excellence by the University. Before leaving for Boston, Michael was the founder and director of “Music at St George’s College”, an extremely successful chamber music initiative based in Perth. 

Ann Carew
Course/project:New York International Music Festival

Ann Carew is a young musician from Brisbane, Australia. She is currently studying a Bachelor of Music (Honours)/Bachelor of Science, at the University of Queensland. She is majoring in violin performance, and has recently travelled with them to New York to take part in the New York University Winter Strings Conference. On violin, she is a member of the Brisbane Regional Youth Orchestra, the Queensland Youth Symphony and the UQ Symphony Orchestra as well as playing in many chamber ensembles around Brisbane. The Dame Joan Sutherland Fund will support her upcoming tour to America with the Brisbane Regional Youth Orchestra, to take part in the 2017 New York International Music Festival held at Carnegie Hall.

Carly Grace
Visual Artist
Course/Project: Visual Thinking Strategies Advanced Practicum, Seattle, WA

Carly Grace is an artist and visual arts educator based in Melbourne, Australia. She specialises in interpretation education and has an extensive experience in designing and delivering diverse education and public programs within museums, community arts and diverse educational settings. She is currently the Education Manager at Heide Museum of Modern Art where she specialises in training educators in Visual Thinking Strategies. Carly’s formal qualifications include a Master in Cultural Heritage Deakin University, Diploma of Education (Secondary, Visual Art) and a Bachelor of Fine Arts (Hons) from Monash University. Her philosophy for visual arts’ education is connecting people with the opportunities that art making and engagement in art culture can have in enriching their lives.

Ashley Carter
Course/project: Masters in Music at Northwestern University

Ashley Carter was born in Mt Isa in central Queensland, Australia, and began playing the Trombone at age 12. Learning from his Grandfather, after only playing for 3 years, Ashley was awarded his Associate Diploma in Music (A.mus.A) at the age of 15 from the Australian Music Examination Board (AMEB).

After graduating from Shalom Catholic College in Bundaberg he moved to Brisbane to study a Bachelor of Music Performance and Graduate Diploma of Music Studies with Benjamin Marks (ELISION) and Jason Redman (Principal Trombone, Queensland Symphony Orchestra) at the Queensland Conservatorium of Music, Griffith University.  In 2012 Ashley moved to Melbourne, Australia, to commence his first year at The Australian National Academy of Music (ANAM) under the instruction of Michael Bertoncello, Trombone player of the Melbourne Symphony Orchestra.

Ashley has been involved in a number of youth ensembles including the Queensland Youth Orchestra, Australian International Symphony Orchestra Institute, Tasmania Discovery Orchestra and the Australian Youth Orchestras.  Ashley has performed with the Queensland Symphony Orchestra, Melbourne Symphony Orchestra, Sydney Symphony Orchestra, Tasmanian Symphony Orchestra, Singapore Symphony Orchestra and the New South Wales Police Band.

Chelsea Giles
Course/project:Masters in Fine Arts at University of California, Los Angeles

Born and raised in Sydney, Australia, Chelsea Giles is a self-professed storyteller and rising Australian talent. A string of roles on some of Australia's most loved programs in combination with a drive to continually improve her skills saw Chelsea win a lead role in her first feature film at 16. While still in High School, she achieved associate diplomas in both Performance, and Speech and Drama teaching from the Trinity College of London. After working with acting coaches Ivana Chubbuck, Howard Fine, and Elizabeth Kemp, Chelsea commenced a Masters of Fine Arts (Theatre) at UCLA’s School of Film, Theatre, and Television with the support of the DJSF in 2016.

Emma Cillekens
Course/Project: Masters in Arts (Journalism) Studio 20: Digital First

When Emma Cillekens found out talking too much could become a career she was sold!

Emma is a radio presenter from Queensland, Australia, who has had a rich career across many facets of the media including radio, television, print and online. Most recently she’s worked for national public radio broadcaster, the ABC (Australian Broadcasting Corporation) as breakfast radio host. She’s presented breakfast, morning, drive and weekend programs to a local and state audience and has provided content to a national and international audience. She has freelanced for the BBC and several other media organisations.

Emma has always had a nose for adventure, so when NYU (New York University) offered her a scholarship to be part of the prestigious Studio 20: Digital First master’s degree she jumped at it. 

Persia Blue Toll
Course/project: SITI Conservatory, NYC
Persia Blue is an Australian actress of both screen and stage. She has studied with the Atlantic
Acting School- New York, SITI company- Saratoga and Ensemble Studios- Australia.

Theatre work includes
: Charitable Intent- The Jack Manning Trilogy (Ensemble Theatre) Grace
Land and Asleep on the Wind (Operating Theatre) Stairwell (Old Fitzroy Theatre), Telling Tales
(HGR) Hayes Gordon Repertory Theatre Company’s Theatre in Education Shakespeare Program:
Love, Death and a Little Madness NSW tour: 2009 and 2010.

Australian television credits:
Home and Away (Network Seven), Dance Academy (ABC), Housos Series 2 (SBS). Australian feature films: Housos Vs Authority and Fat Pizza Vs Housos.

Persia’s short films including: Circe (Dungog Film Festival 2010), A Broadband God, Report (Pop
Films Australia), 2012 (NAFA)

Nicholas Vardanega
Course/project: Masters in Music at NYU

Nominated for "Young Australian Jazz Artist of the Year" in the 2015 Bell Awards, guitarist/composer Nic Vardanega is an emerging voice on the Australian jazz scene. A graduate of the Sydney Conservatorium of Music, Nic has been a sought after musician, performing with Australian Jazz icon Mike Nock as well as being a regular member of rising star pianist Francesca Prihasti’s Quartet.

Nic has recorded alongside first call New York City musicians including drummers Ulysses Owens Jr and Rodney Green as well as bassists Orlando le Fleming and Marco Panascia. His debut album ‘Invenro’ was released in late 2014 to critical acclaim. The album featured all original compositions by Vardanega and explored music influenced by his Italian heritage.

Lucy Turnbull
Visual Artist
Course/Project: Master of Fine Arts at New York Studio School of Drawing, Painting & Sculpture

Lucy has a background in drawing and painting, she studied at Adelaide Central School of Art and graduated with a Bachelor of Visual Art, Honours in 2010. She has exhibited in galleries and public spaces around Australia and locally, including Victoria Square, Adelaide Festival Centre, Praxis Artspace and Adelaide Central Gallery. 

Lucy is also passionate about teaching and has worked for a number of organisations, most recently as Artist Assistant at Carclew's Pom Pom Children's Contemporary Art Space in Davoren Park and a Drawing lecturer at Adelaide Central  School of Art in Glenside.

Lucy will be undertaking a Masters of Fine Art at the New York Studio School of Drawing, Painting and Sculpture.

Christy Gast
Visual Artist
Course/Project: Performance Studies International Conference, Victoria

Christy Gast (New York) is an artist whose work across media reflects an interest in issues of economics and the environment, and the role of content in giving meaning to the experience and form of the work. She has exhibited at MoMA/P.S.1, Performa, Artists Space and Regina Rex in New York; PAMM, Bass Museum of Art, de la Cruz Collection, Locust Projects, and Gallery Diet in Miami; Mass MoCA; High Desert Test Sites; and the Kadist Art Foundation in Paris. She has received awards from the Art Matters Foundation and the South Florida Cultural Consortium, and is faculty at Hartford Art School’s new Nomad9 MFA program.


Samantha McCulloch
Visual Artist
Course/Project: New York Art Residency and Studios Foundation, New York

Samantha McCulloch is currently undertaking a three-month residency at the NARS Foundation in New York City. She is trained as an artist and curator and has exhibited in Australia and abroad. She was selected as one of Next Wave Festival’s emerging curators and curated a multi-site exhibition at the Centre for Contemporary Photography in Melbourne. Recent exhibitions include: Ground(s), c3, 2016; Concerted Efforts, Westspace, 2015 and From where I was, The Substation Gallery, 2015. Practice traces interactions between matter and site. Her photographs and sculptures explore the world as a series of becomings, a mesh of human, animal and plant interactions. 


Liang Luscombe

 Master of Fine Art at Virginia Commonwealth University

Liang was the recipient of an Australia Council JUMP Mentorship in 2013 and was mentored by Angela Brennan. She has also held residencies at the Australia Council Studio, British School at Rome in 2013 and PICA Studio Residency in 2011. She is currently undertaking her Masters of Fine Art at Virginia Commonwealth University, USA.

Recent solo exhibitions include: Table Talk, Box Copy, Brisbane, 2016; A Tall Painter, Yarra Flats, Melbourne, 2016; Three Sailors, Sutton Project Space, Melbourne, 2014; Non in Casa, 157 Blyth St, Melbourne, 2013; Bauhaus Fisher Price, TCB art inc., Melbourne, 2012. Selected group exhibitions include: Footnotes, The 3rd Ural Industrial Biennial of Contemporary Art, Yekaterinburg, 2015; No fond return of love, I.C.A.N., Sydney, 2014; Dear Masato, all at once, Margaret Lawrence Gallery, Melbourne, 2014; brimming dissolution, buoyant expenditure, RM, Auckland, 2014; Synonyms for Sincerity, Alaska Projects, Sydney, 2013; Please be quiet, The British School at Rome, Rome, 2013; Navel Gazing, Utopian Slumps, Melbourne, 2013; Fresh Paint, Sutton Projects, Melbourne, 2012; Ménage a Trois, XYZ Gallery Tokyo, 2012.


Amelia Wallin
Course/project: Center for Curatorial Studies, Bard College, New York

Amelia Wallin is an Australian curator and current MA candidate at The Centre for Curatorial Studies, Bard College, New York. In 2015 she was the Curatorial Fellow at Performa working on the inaugural Australian ‘Pavilion Without Walls’ and was in-residence at Wassaic Projects (NY) researching alternative curatorial models and writing practices. Amelia has held positions at numerous Sydney organisations including Biennale of Sydney, Campbelltown Arts Centre, Performance Space, Vivid Ideas, and Performing Lines. She was co-curator of Tiny Stadiums Live Art Festival (2012-14) and has been involved in the set up and directing of several artist-run-spaces; Firstdraft (2012-13), Sydney Guild (2012-14) and The Paper Mill (2009-11). She holds a Bachelor of Art & Art Theory from the University of New South Wales.

Bridget Mackey
Theatre Maker
Course/project: Screenwriting at the University of Southern California, California

Bridget Mackey is a Melbourne playwright and dramaturg. Bridget’s play The Exact Dimensions of Hell was read at the Melbourne Theatre Company as part of Cybec Electric 2016. Other plays by Bridget include: Exit Everything (with Georgie McAuley, Little Sister Projects 2015), Kindness (Flight Festival 2015) and Hose (MKA 2012). Bridget is a founding member of Lonely Company and is Literary Manager for five.point.one. She has worked as a dramaturg on a number of projects including Blessed by Fleur Kilpatrick and The Lake by Ben Brooker. In 2014 Bridget undertook a dramaturgy internship with Playwriting Australia at the Melbourne Theatre Company. Bridget holds a Master of Writing for Performance from the VCA (2013) and a Bachelor of Creative Arts (Acting) from Flinders University (2007).

Clare and Matt
Visual Artists
Course/Project: Watermill Center, New York
Matt Prest and Clare Britton have individual arts practices that traverse performance and visual art.  They have a history of working together on a number of significant collaborative projects. These works include the award winning productions Whelping Box (with Branch Nebula), Hole in the Wall and The Tent. As a partnership, Clare and Matt aim to make work that puts the 'experience' on an equal footing with the 'object' of the artwork.  Clare and Matt work within an interdisciplinary, experimental process, reinforced by strategies of design and collaboration.  The Dame Joan Sutherland Fund will support their upcoming residency at The Watermill Centre. 
Kieran Swann
Course/project: Wesleyan University, Connecticut

Kieran Swann is an artist, curator, producer, and facilitator; with a background in both performance and visual art. His work for gallery spaces manifests as spare, minimalist gestures or tasks; always site-responsive and often to reframe or bring into focus the history of sites or bodies, and create a space for meditation on these. In experimental theatre and contemporary performance, Kieran collaborates with The Good Room, creators of I Should Have Drunk More Champagne (Metro Arts 2013), I Want To Know What Love Is (Brisbane Festival/QTC 2014, Brisbane Powerhouse 2015), and the forthcoming The Forgiveness Project (working title) – a body of contemporary work acclaimed for accessibility, innovative process, striking imagery, and meaningful community engagement. He has created work with Brisbane Festival, Queensland Theatre Company, Brisbane Powerhouse, Next Wave, La Boite Theatre, Conical Inc, Schoolhouse Studios.

His body of work has received national acclaim; ABC Radio has described his work as “nothing short of brilliant”, and RealTime has noted him a “fabulous liar in a mundane world”. In 2016, Kieran has received a fellowship for postgraduate study at Wesleyan University’s Institute for Curatorial Practice in Performance, in Connecticut USA.


James Stuart
Documentary Film Maker
Course/Project: School of Visual Arts, New York
James Stuart is a multi-disciplinary documentary filmmaker coming from a strong background in graphic design and musical performance. Having grown up abroad, between Australia, the United States, Indonesia and Europe, James Possesses a unique perspective. More than anything, this immersion in different cultures informs his practice. James is currently developing his abilities as a nonfiction-storyteller at the School of Visual Arts MFA in Social Documentary in New York City. He is currently working to explore the possibilities at the intersection of different disciplines, where design and motion graphics can meet documentary filmmaking and enable new possibilities for non-fiction storytelling. James hold a bachelor of Visual Communications with first class honours from the University of Technology Sydney. 
Lani Asuncion
Visual Artist
Course/Program: Bilpin International Ground for Creative Initiatives, New South Whales
Lani Asuncion is an interdisciplinary artist working with transmedia storytelling to explore her identity as an Asian American woman. She is an artist-in-residence alumna of Caldera Arts Center, I-Park, CAC Woodside, Elsewhere Living Museum, Santa Fe Art Institute, and Bilpin International Grounds for Creative Initiatives (BigCi). Asuncion’s work has been screened in Currents New Media Festival in Santa Fe, NM. As well as Nights of Festivals: Moving Image at Nottingham Contemporary, UK; and was included in Aspect EZ: Vol. 4, Déjà Vu a DVD printing by ASPECT: The Chronicle for New Media in Boston, MA. Her work was included in Another Athens Film Programme at SUPERMARKET Independent Art Fair in Stockholm, Sweden hosted by Interviewroom11 (Edinburgh) & SNEHTA (Athens).
Liesl Pfeffer
Visual Artist
Course/Project: Vermont Studio Center, Vermont
Liesl Pfeffer is a visual artist from Brisbane, Australia, living in Brooklyn, NY.  In her art practice she constructs imagined and real places and objects through photo-media collage. She holds a Bachelor of Photography from the Queensland College of Art (2005). Pfeffer was resident at The Banff Centre, Banff, Canada (2015), The Wassaic Project, Wassaic, NY (2014) and in August 2016 will be resident at Vermont Studio Center in Johnson, VT, supported by the Australian American Association’s Dame Joan Sutherland Fund. Recently she exhibited at Ortega y Gasset, Wassaic Project, Newhouse Center for Contemporary Art, Trestle Projects and Chashama (all New York, USA). Pfeffer was a mentor in the New York Foundation for the Arts’ Immigrant Artist Program in 2015.
Paul Hodge
Course/project: Mentorship with Alain Boublil, New York
Paul Hodge is a writer-composer from Brisbane.  His recent work, CLINTON THE MUSICAL, was performed Off-Broadway, at the New York Musical Theatre Festival, in London and Edinburgh and will have its Australian Premiere in 2016 at Black Swan State Theatre Company. CLINTON received a New York Times Critics Pick and nominations for Best New Musical and Best Book of a Musical in New York and Edinburgh.  His other large-scale work, TERRA AUSTRALIS, was shortlisted for the QLD Premier’s Drama Award 2012-13. He is about to complete a PhD in Music Composition at the University of Queensland. Awards include the Brisbane Lord Mayor’s Young and Emerging Artist Fellowship, Margaret Nickson Prize and 4MBS Musica Viva Chamber Music Prize.

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