The H C Coombs Creative Arts Fellowship this year has been awarded to writer and artist Kim Mahood.
2014 marks fifty years since the Fellowship was established, with the first artist taking up residency at ANU in 1965. Its namesake is former ANU Chancellor Dr H C Coombs.
Mahood lives in Womboyne NSW, just outside of Canberra. Each year she travels to Central Australia, where she grew up on a remote cattle station that has since been returned to its Traditional Owners.
Mahood uses her work to document and share her experience with the broader community.
“The people I work with in the Tanami Desert, I’ve known since I was a child,” she says.
“This is my way of keeping the two worlds connected to each other.”
One of the main goals of the Fellowship is to connect Visiting Fellows with the University community. In keeping with this spirit, Mahood will run a number of workshops with undergraduate and postgraduate students on writing creative non-fiction, mapping oral histories and translating research into accessible language.
She will also take a group of artists associated with ANU on a field trip to Paruku/Lake Gregory, an inland lake system at the junction of the Tanami and Great Sandy Deserts, where she spends time each year in the Aboriginal community of Mulan.
Mahood will be hosted by the School of Art while she is at ANU throughout the year.
Mahood joins a long list of prominent artists who have received the award throughout its half-century journey.
By hosting artists from around Australia and the world, the Fellowship has helped ANU establish itself as an international hub for artists, writers, composers, musicians and other visitors from creative fields.
Three of its most well-known artists – Sidney Nolan, Arthur Boyd and Narritjin Maymuru – were celebrated in an exhibition held at the Drill Hall Gallery in 2007.
At the time, then ANU Vice-Chancellor Ian Chubb praised the foresight and breadth of vision of Dr Coombs in establishing the Fellowship.
“The Creative Arts Fellowships have been the catalyst for a corpus of work that ranks amongst the best visual art produced in Australia. Over six decades the University has built up a collection that reflects significant developments in Australian art.”