Art at the Heart Background Print


The three artists involved in ‘Art at the Heart’, the Shire of East Pilbara’s four-year artist-in-residency program, are returning in 2017 for an exhibition with three times the creativity, output and excitement.

The three very individual artists – Hannah Quinlivan, Artist-in-Residence in 2014, Yasuaki Onishi (2015) and Olaniyi Akindiya - aka Akirash (2016) will arrive in Newman in September 2017 to begin a short residency. Their stay will culminate in a group exhibition of new works, plus selected works from their earlier residencies.

The exhibition opens at the superb East Pilbara Art Centre in Newman on Friday 22 September for a two week period.

Art at the Heart has been perhaps the richest artist regional residency program in Australia, with $15,000 previously awarded to the selected artists, along with up to $40,000 available to them to produce a body of new work. The incentive has attracted world class artists.

The impact of such a commitment to arts and culture by the Shire is far more lasting than any one short residency. Artists from outside the region and indeed the country bring with them fresh perspectives and new artistic practices. The opportunity for local artists and arts organisations to engage with these artists does not only inspire them it also strengthens their capacity for their own practices.

Canberra resident Hannah Quinlivan, renowned for her spatial line drawings and intricate steel sculptures, has been the recipient of many awards. They include The Cox Prize for her 2013 sculpture ‘Enfolding’, and the Peter and Lena Karmel Prize for the highest achieving graduate at the Australian National University of Art in 2011. 

In 2017 Hannah successfully exhibited at Hong Kong Art Central, created a major installation at Colorado State University and another major work at the Canberra Museum and Art Gallery. 

In 2016 she constructed a spatial drawing ‘Arrhythmia’ for the National Portrait Gallery, integrating dancers and opera singers into her performance piece. She won an ANU scholarship to attend a conference at Cambridge University in September 2016 where she also exhibited an ephemeral, site-specific artwork titled ‘Spatialisation’ in the Old Court at Pembroke College. Hannah’s ‘Anatomy of a Drawing’ exhibited at Canberra Museum and Art Gallery in 2017.

Internationally-acclaimed Japanese artist Yasuaki Onishi studied sculpture at the University of Tsukuba and Kyoto City University of Arts in Japan. His artworks are constructed from hot glue and fishing line and found objects such as tree limbs. 

Yasuaki’s ethereal works have been exhibited in France, Japan, Beijing, the United States, Sweden, Australia, Norway, Netherlands, Israel and Denmark. In April 2017 his ‘Inverted Emptiness’ sculpture (pictured) enchanted audiences in Kazakhstan. 

A feature of his work is that Onishi does not move the fragile sculptures from place to place but each time creates them afresh.

Finally Akirash, the Nigerian-born dynamo who created more artworks than anyone thought possible during his residency last year, will complete the triumvirate. 

Now residing in the US, his exhibitions have been in locations from Texas to Harlem, and to Namibia, Tanzania and South Africa.

Akirash is an interdisciplinary artist who majored in biochemistry until art became his passion. He studied at the Institute of Textile Technology, Arts, and Design Oregun – Lagos State, Nigeria, moving to the Republic of Benin after graduating in 1996. While establishing himself as an artist, he travelled to many countries to gather new ideas and techniques, taking part in seminars, biennials, workshops, and many solo and group exhibitions.

In 2000, Akirash founded a non-profit organisation to contribute to the development of communities and empower women and children to make positive changes in their lives. Since 2011, Akirash has resided in Austin, Texas. 

The exhibition will be curated by Damian Smith, a curator and art critic with 30 curated exhibitions during more than 20 years’ experience in the field of contemporary art. Since 2011, Damian has been curating the Heartlands Refugee Fine Art Prize, a national art award celebrating the work of refugee artists in Australia. Damian is a curator for China Art Projects, a Beijing-based consultancy promoting contemporary Chinese art internationally.

Recent projects have included ‘Paperhood: Bluestonia’, featuring works by contemporary Chinese and Australian artists at RMIT University, in 2017, and ‘Intercambio: A Conversation Between Two Trains’, for the 2018 Bienal de la Habana, in Cuba.

Damian has published over 100 articles on contemporary art and is a member of the International Association of Art Critics. 

For further information on any of the artists or the exhibition, please contact:

Sue Scrutton
Coordinator Arts and Cultural Development 
Shire of East Pilbara
T. (08) 9175 8016 (direct)   |  M: 0408 911 496