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Meet Contemporary Art student Georgia Anne

Meet Contemporary Art student Georgia Anne

Get to know a student’s experience studying at The University of Melbourne’s Faculty of Fine Arts and Music. Georgia Anne is studying a master of contemporary art at the Victorian College of the Arts (VCA).

What attracted you to your study?

I had been working in politics for years, most recently in the policy team at the First Peoples’ Assembly of Victoria. While I’m so proud of the work being done there, I realised I needed a change. I was making art to cope with some of the stress of working in a high-stakes environment, and realised I would be happier pursuing the things that were actually making me feel grounded and connected. 

What both inspires and challenges you? 

My practice is still emerging and evolving – I struggle with being pigeonholed as an Aboriginal artist and all the expectations about your identity and your work that come with that. Art institutions have only recently begun embracing contemporary Indigenous art, and it’s still much more lucrative to be making traditional art. I really subscribe to the ideas Richard Bell put forward in Aboriginal Art: It’s a White Thing – until we have more Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people heading these institutions, all Aboriginal art will still be curated, viewed, and sold through a white lens, which completely changes the nature of the work. I’m still trying to find my identity, and my art practice is helping me do that, but we need to create spaces to allow more freedom for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people to do that without imposing White Australia’s beliefs about who they are and what they should be making. 

What are you most looking forward to about continuing your studies through a Master of Contemporary Art?

Delving further into my practice. I chose to pursue the coursework master’s over the research program so that I could spend more time trying different things, working in different mediums, and exploring different concepts. I’m not ready to focus on one thing yet, I’m still in the process of finding my voice and figuring out where I can best make a difference in the conversation around contemporary Aboriginal art. 

What are your goals for the next few years? 

Continue honing my practice, to allow myself the space to be creative, to experiment, and not put any pressure on myself to narrow my focus. I have two exhibitions coming up in the next year, so it’s going to be a very busy year for me. I really hope to contribute something to the dialogue around creating a space for First Nations art and artists – a space that’s self-determining, non-restrictive and allows First Nations artists to flourish in whatever practice they feel passionate about, without imposing restrictions on who they are and what they should be creating. 

People often talk about a “career” with the implication that one is limited to doing one thing. What do you think a “career” for a creative looks like? 

This is complicated as a career for an artist looks different for each person. To one person it may be a focused practice on one thing that they’re able to hone over a lifetime. To another person it may be the freedom to experiment in a bunch of different mediums. Unfortunately, under the capitalist system that doesn’t value art simply for the sake of art like First Nations cultures do, there is always the conflict of making art that you want to make; that feels authentic and serves the artist; and art that you know will sell, so that you’re able to both pay for necessities, and fund your future practice. For me, having a career as an artist would mean being able to keep making the work I want to make and be able to not just survive, but thrive off that practice. 

You can see Georgia’s work at two upcoming exhibitions – Yeah, But Is It Art? at First Nations gallery Honey Bones in Brunswick in July and a solo show inspired by Richard Bell’s thesis on Aboriginal art at Counihan Gallery in February 2025. •

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