Powerhouse Museum expands support for NSW creatives with 2020 residency program

Offering space to create as well as ample opportunities for collaboration, expressions of interest for the Powerhouse NSW Creative Industries Residency Program are now open for a February 2021 start.

A fashion collection inspired by gothic melodrama, the Koala Train installation, the launch of the Mardi Gras Film Festival and a sound work which takes inspiration from a glass plate negative of Pearl Bay are just some of the projects undertaken so far through the NSW Creative Industries Residency Program.

Launched in 2019, the program provides NSW-based creative industry practitioners and organisations subsidised workspaces at the Powerhouse Museum in Ultimo, as well as the opportunity to collaborate with the Powerhouse’s curatorial and programming teams.

The residencies are open to a diverse range of creative disciplines, with fashion houses, film collectives, sound artists and writers currently working from the Museum in a variety of spaces, including studios and offices.

Working across creative disciplines, practitioners selected for the inaugural program last year have created a multitude of projects during their residencies.

‘We’re happy we have been able to provide spaces and a creative environment where artists and creatives can continue their work and be supported, especially during this difficult year, ’ said Katie Dyer, Senior Curator at the Powerhouse Museum.

The projects completed so far have drawn inspiration from across the Powerhouse Collection – described by Dyer as ‘endlessly rich’ – and which includes architecture, music and sound technology, photography, decorative arts and digital development.

Internationally-renowned Australian fashion house Romance Was Born (Anna Plunkett and Luke Sales) sought inspiration from the Powerhouse Collection for their pre-fall seasonal collection which pays homage to the 1979 gothic novel, Flowers in the Attic.

‘They were looking at designs and samples in our Collection, including Victorian scrapbooks, which they took a lot of inspiration from in relation to floral and ornate patterning that they’ve used in their collection,’ Dyer told ArtsHub.

For sound designer Julian Wessels, a glass plate negative of Pearl Bay served as inspiration to create a new sound work for the Earfest 2020 Festival. His piece Iridescence used sound recordings gathered from Pearl Bay in an attempt to represent the landscape across time.

While a majority of projects were able to proceed, others had to be postponed because of COVID-19. Artist Rosie Deacon entered the program intending on making a large-scale installation entitled Koala Train.

Initially the work was to show in April, but due to COVID-19 it was postponed and will now show in December.

For participants such as Romance Was Born, the residency program presented an opportunity to keep working during a tumultuous year.

‘The fashion industry, like all creative industries, has been heavily impacted by the COVID-19 pandemic. It has been invaluable to have this space to continue to work on our collection during this time, which was inspired by the Powerhouse,’ Plunkett and Sales said.

‘Current residents come from diverse backgrounds and all use their time at the Powerhouse in different ways,’ Dyer says.

‘We’re really interested in how the practice of applicants aligns to the Museum’s Collection and what they achieve while they are here,’ she concluded.

Find out more about the Powerhouse NSW Creative Industries Residency Program. Applications close 20 November.