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SA textile artist Sera Waters named 2020 Guildhouse Fellow


The 2020 Guildhouse Fellowship has been awarded to Sera Waters, an SA visual artist whose work often incorporates second-hand domestic textiles and uses intricate embroidery to examine Australia’s colonial past.

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Supported by the James & Diana Ramsay Foundation and delivered in partnership with the Art Gallery of SA, the 12-month fellowship is valued at more than $50,000 and intended to support the practice of a mid-career South Australian visual artist, craftsperson or designer.

It was awarded for the first time last year, with inaugural Guildhouse Fellow Troy-Anthony Baylis currently exhibiting a three-part exhibition titled Nomenclatures at the AGSA.

Waters says the opportunity provided by the fellowship is one she has dreamed of for her art practice.

“The invaluable fellowship enables me to go forward for the next year knowing I am supported to make the best work I can,” she says.

“I am so looking forward to undistracted studio time, accumulating momentum, and pushing my art in expansive directions.”

Blindspot (found frame, cotton, gold thread), a 2019 work by Sera Waters. Photo: Grant Hancock

Waters has exhibited her work extensively – including in the 2016 Sappers and Shrapnel exhibition at the AGSA – and was a finalist in the 2019 Ramsay Art Prize with woollen long-stitch work transformed into a 7m-long photographic wallpaper landscape depicting a fallen tree before a setting sun.

The artist studied hand embroidery at the Royal School of Needlework in the UK, and is known for her textile work exploring colonial histories and home craft traditions.

Her solo exhibition Domestic Arts featured intricate embroideries and large sculptures that sought to celebrate “the knowledge and creativity of ‘women’s work’; while also revealing their complicity with forms of colonisation and privilege”. Domestic Arts was originally presented at ACE Open in 2017 and is set to tour seven regional South Australian locations from late September this year until October 2021.

The Guildhouse Fellowship supports artists’ research and development, including the creation of new work and the opportunity to present it at the AGSA.

Guildhouse chief executive officer Emma Fey says it recognises that mid-career artists warrant support at this important time in their career.

“For many artists, this is where the ‘rubber hits the road’,” she says.

“This prestigious award offers artists the intellectual and financial space to commit to their development and professional sustainability.

“COVID-19 is having an unprecedented impact on the arts sector. This Fellowship comes at a time where, more than ever, we as a community need to recognise and continue to support artistic ambition.”

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