The stereotype of the artist as a lone figure working in isolation would suggest that artists are well prepared for the challenges of COVID-19. Artists however, like the rest of us, require community and communication. They too depend on fellowship.
Inaugurated in 2019 with the support of the James and Diana Ramsay Foundation, the Guildhouse Fellowship is a generous offering for South Australian artists. A one-of-a-kind in the national landscape – the fellowship seeks to expand the selected artist’s horizons, expanding their practice and world view.
Its first Fellow is Troy-Anthony Baylis. A descendant of the Jawoyn people from the Northern Territory, Baylis has lived in South Australia for twenty years and during this time he has worked as a curator and in arts administration, as well as being a teacher, artist and activist. Baylis’s fellowship included travel to Berlin, an international city that on a daily basis faces the weight and horrors of human history, doing so with creativity and resilience.
The idea of reconciling the past with the present to craft a new future spoke to Baylis, and struck a chord with what he sees as the challenges and opportunities here in Australia in reconciling ourselves with our past. Baylis’s aim is for his ‘artistic practice to contribute meaningfully towards arguably the most important peoples’ movement of our times’.
Maintaining an interest in German culture and history, Baylis is now back in his studio and is exploring the dual naming of towns in South Australia. Introduced in 1917 and motivated by anti-German sentiment, the South Australia Nomenclature Act officially changed the name of some towns and villages in the state while a later Act in 1935 restored some of the former German names, notably the villages of Hahndorf and Lobethal and the Adelaide suburb of Klemzig.
In a nod to the artisanal skills of German migrants and in deference to his own Aboriginal community, Baylis is weaving together the German and English names. He elaborates, ‘as a project I wanted to reinstate both the English and the German tilting and present them in equal measure, and also recognize these sites as Aboriginal country’. Baylis’s work will exhibited later this year at the Art Gallery of South Australia, a supporting partner in the Fellowship.
The Guildhouse Fellowship 2020 is now accepting applications from mid-career South Australian artists, until July 20. Visit guildhouse.org.au for more information.