A three-month residency in the Big Apple is every artist’s dream. Margie Dimech spoke to arts lecturer Dr Catherine Bell about her recent experience.
Dr Catherine Bell has returned from a prestigious studio residency in New York with a series of video and photographic works – and a new direction for her artwork.
The visual arts lecturer at ACU’s Melbourne Campus lived and worked on King of Greene Street in SoHo, thanks to a three-month grant awarded by The Australia Council for the Arts, the Australian Government’s arts funding and advisory body.
The residency also provided membership to all of New York’s galleries – the highlight, spending a few hours with the curator of the Guggenheim Museum.
“The residency was a time for me to make art, network and see what others are creating,” Dr Bell said. “There were many exhibitions which were of particular interest to me because there was a lot of performance and video content. I met many artists and from this networking, other opportunities have arisen.
“It was great also just to explore the city on my own. Art isn’t just found in galleries, it can be found everywhere.”
Dr Bell is a multidisciplinary artist, curator and Course and Gallery Coordinator for the Bachelor of Visual Art and Design in Melbourne. Since completing her Master of Fine Arts at RMIT, she has undertaken artist residencies at Gertrude Street Gallery in Fitzroy and the Melville Haysom residency at the Queensland Art Gallery.
An established artist, she undertook research at the Ruskin School of Fine Art at Oxford University and was awarded an Australian Postgraduate Scholarship in order to undertake her PhD at Monash University.
Her art has been seen by local and international audiences at exhibitions such as Perspecta, Art Gallery of NSW (1993); The Adelaide Bierrid of Australian Art, Art Gallery of SA (1996); Truth Universally Acknowledged, ACCA (2005); True Crime: Murder and Misdemeanour in Australian Art, Geelong Gallery (2008); and Tier Perspektiven Animal Perspectives, Georg-Kobe Museum & Tier – Werden Mensch – Werden (Becoming Animal – Becoming Human), NGBK (Neue Gesellschaft für bildende Kunst), Berlin (2009).
Dr Bell has returned with a series of new pieces and a new direction for her art.
“My creative well was dry before I went away! Being in New York and talking to artists and being exposed to their art were the right ingredients for making new and fresh artwork.”
Her students at ACU have also benefited from her experience: “I believe seeing challenging art revitalises my practice and teaching. This residency was about cultural exchange and I’m not the only one who has benefited.
“I brought many art catalogues back with me, which I have shared in my classes. I have also presented lectures about my time and experiences. In this way, my first-hand experience filters into the classroom.”
Dr Bell’s video work was recently on show at the Linden Centre for Contemporary Arts. The exhibition, entitled What’s Yours is Mine, was co-curated by Dr Bell and Linden Program-Director Jan Duffy, and also featured work from artist Jecca, who Dr Bell met in New York.