Arts & Culture02 Feb 2023

Perth artist Nathan Beard shares insights from his astute use of Minderoo Artist Fund support  

Perth-based interdisciplinary artist Nathan Beard is building sustainable momentum for his arts career with the achievement of a new exhibition and help from the $50,000 Minderoo Artist Fund Award.

Minderoo Foundation’s Co-Chair and Co-Founder Nicola Forrest with artist Nathan Beard in London. Photo Credit: Minderoo Foundation.

In recognition of exceptional career progress, the award is given to one member of the Foundation’s annual cohort.  

Starting with Artist Fund support, Nathan was able to begin this ambitious project and then secure further funding from the Australia Council to complete it for exhibition at Perth’s sweet pea gallery. Nathan’s project, Low Yield Fruit, was a series of sculptures inspired by tropical fruit and his Thai Australian heritage. 

“I knew that the overall ambitions for this initial project would exceed the original grant amount, given the cost of casting materials and bronze fabrication. I also knew this confirmed seed funding for mentoring and technical assistance would also be compelling for an assessment panel,” he said. 

“The overall body of work is also useful as a proof of concept moving forward, demonstrating a new level of refinement and ambition for a more studio-led practice.” 

The Minderoo Artist Fund is devoted to helping mid-career artists bolster their practice and sustain their career at a crucial time, with impactful funding that allows them to keep pursuing and experimenting with work that intrigues them – and this can lead to bigger things. 

Nathan’s bold and transitional career momentum was acknowledged by the Artist Fund’s external panel, bestowing him with the $50,000 Minderoo Artist Fund Award.  

So, after also securing a six-month Australia Council residency in London, and with the $50,000 Minderoo Artist Fund Award boosting his confidence, Nathan has built upon the success of Low Yield Fruit with A Puzzlement, a new exhibition of his work at PICA in Perth’s cultural centre that explores Thai heritage even deeper. 

“After my mum died in 2019, I lost a really immediate and primary connection to my Thai culture and identity, and I wanted to explore how institutions and the culture of the West might come to fill this void,” he said. 

“(The 1950s movie) The King and I forms a key text to this exploration, as it was a formative cultural artefact from my childhood, which represented the first time I saw my mother’s culture filtered through a Western lens for Western audiences. 

“…A Puzzlement looks to thread these various personal and historical influences together in a way that suggests the precariousness and slipperiness of ‘Thainess’ as a construct. The show expands on a visual language of material extravagance and precariously balanced forms which are consistent in my practice.” 

Gallery Director at sweet pea Andrew Varano said support like the Minderoo Artist Fund was crucial for Nathan to follow his unique artistic vision without compromise. 

“Funding was crucial for Nathan as it allowed him the time to develop a totally new body of work, using materials and techniques he hadn’t used before… in order to create work that while being embraced and celebrated by an art viewing public, may be difficult to place with collectors and institutions,” he said. 

“In short it allowed Nathan to spend time taking key developmental risks, the outcomes of which have increased visibility for his practice and work across Australia and beyond.” 

Reflecting on his artistic journey, Nathan said the Minderoo Artist Fund allowed him to avoid what can be called the ‘mid-career lag’. 

“The fund let me invigorate my practice and give me a new boost of creativity after a decade of refining a conceptual approach to my work. Avoiding this lag was really only possible through an injection of funds that would let me experiment and play in order to expand my work and build on career momentum I had established,” he said. 

Nathan is continuing to refine his approach to casting and airbrushing, particularly in silicone, and has new ideas for future work in development while he continues his practice in Perth. 

Applications for the 2023 Minderoo Artist Fund will open for a short time in February, and you can sign up here for more information. 

Minderoo Foundation
by Minderoo Foundation

Established by Andrew and Nicola Forrest in 2001, we are a modern philanthropic organisation seeking to break down barriers, innovate and drive positive, lasting change. Minderoo Foundation is proudly Australian, with key initiatives spanning from ocean research and ending slavery, to collaboration in cancer and community projects.

3 minute read
Share this article
Other Stories