Midsumma and Australia Post Art Award - 2020 Finalists

Midsumma and Australia Post Art Award 2020 opening - by Tanya McCulloch

Below is listed some information about the 2020 finalists and their art works.

The 2020 Finalists

Chelle Destefano

Title of Work: An Auslan Conversation #2

Medium: Paper, paint, plaster, gold leaf, pencil, pastel, charcoal, gouache

An Auslan Conversation #2 is about my personal experiences similar to Yayoi Kusama, the Japanese artist, but as a Deaf woman in sign-language, Auslan and the spatial movements of Auslan through creation of paper sculpture shapes.

I created sculptures while signing a word when holding wetted paper then the sculpture is painted in white paint and then dotted in coloured acrylic and gouache paints and some gold leaf.

The pieces are white on a white wall, meaning our hands melding into one picture in a room, reminiscent of our Deaf culture. The coloured dots relate to the experiences I have had, similar to Yayoi Kusama who experienced social anxiety, frustrations and isolation along with dealing with gender inequality where her recognition as an artist was being robbed by artists of the opposite sex who would copy her works and claim it as theirs. One piece is orange red, as me, an individual woman experiencing social isolation and my connection to Yayoi Kusama who has bright red orange hair.

This conversation set is about being a Deaf woman and the isolation I experienced growing up Deaf on a farm and my frustration with the world not being equally accessible for a Deaf person and the inequality as a woman particularly where business is concerned and I'm given less respect by tradesman or service providers for example because I am a woman. The Auslan sculpture set says "I grew up in isolation of Devon Meadows. Socially anxious and frustrated that the world is truly inaccessible to a Deaf woman. But I stand strong. Bring change for women and equal access."

I'm a deaf visual artist born in 1979 in Melbourne and I worked with watercolour until recently moving away from traditional work to contemporary practices in multi-mediums including sculpture, installation, performance, video, textiles, acrylic painting and drawing.

I have been working on a project exploring my Deaf culture, language and the barriers we face. As part of my exploration of my Deaf culture, I created paper sculptures through spatial movements of signing words while holding wet paper and a shape formed.

I started off with sculpture sets as one-sentence conversations and I'm working towards larger bodies of work with the sculptures during an upcoming residency at Heritage Hill, creating busts of 3D self-portraits from Auslan sculpture pieces.

I was a recent finalist in the Banyule Art Prize for works on paper and I am a finalist in the Lyn McCrea Memorial Drawing Prize in Noosa.

In September 2019, I did an immersive interactive performance incorporating visual arts sculpture for the Melbourne Fringe as part of the Critical Mass program that I was selected to be part of, at the Brunswick Mechanics Institute.

Daley King

Title of Work: Lipstuck

Medium: Lipstick & Nail Polish on Cartridge Paper in Plastic Frame

Occasionally I wear lipstick, nail polish, dresses, and heels, in my day-to-day life, and occasionally I am laughed at, and occasionally I am sneered at, and occasionally I am threatened with physical violence, and occasionally a certain word is whispered or shouted abusively in my direction; "faggot!". My way of dealing with obnoxious and cruel humanity (or the lack thereof) is to make art, usually through writing and performance, but sometimes it manifests in other ways, maniacally thrown onto a canvas or paper. I recently channeled some angry energy into a little protest, a self-portrait. It's entirely painted out of several lipstick shades and a kaleidoscope of nail polish. Keep doing you, fellow unconventional humans, and keep making your art in all those wicked, wild, and wonderful ways. I see you. As much as I am called 'faggot', I am simply only another 'f' word; free.

Daley King is an eclectic, genderqueer writer, performance artist, and social justice advocate; raised on Whadjuk Noongar boodja, Daley was born in Aotearoa, with Māori heritage. Exploring the outer limits of performance through a lens of neurodiversity, unpredictable and uncomfortable works are generated in a celebration of chaos and queerness. Daley, intent on tearing down the status quo, creates performance and visual art works exposing the zeitgeist - the fringes of society, and the furthest corners of humanity.

Dan Malloy

Title of Work: Silenced in the Shadows

Medium: Framed print

Silenced in the shadows is a series of confronting and thought-provoking images portraying the emotional internal & external battles LGBTQI+ Pacific Islander & Indigenous people often face: the overwhelming feeling of being silenced about their sexuality and gender identity due to the fear of being ostracised & abandoned by their families and others within the community with staunch cultural & religious views.

Dan Molloy is a Brisbane based freelance photographer specialising in Commercial, Portraiture, Fashion & Advertising. He uses photography as a means to document the world around him. He likes to create imagery that calls attention to things that other people often overlook.

Darcy Williams

Title of Work: Self Portrait in a Dodgy Motel in Maitland (Festival Prep)

Medium: Oil on Ply

This work was created as a response to problems I’d been having with alcohol abuse in early 2018. I’d been through a difficult relationship breakdown and was feeling isolated amongst my old friends. Due to this isolation both through social circumstances and substances my body felt alien to me. Re-entering the dating game saw a body I was destroying being fetishized and shamed by others. It’s amazing how many people are prepared to have a vocal opinion about a new haircut or some weight gain. This painting became a way from me to reconnect with my body through painting.

I am an emerging artist from Brisbane operating primarily within the field of painting. I completed my Bachelor of Fine Art at QCA in 2017 and will complete my honours year at the end of 2019. My work examines painting and autobiography, in particular how figurative autobiographical paintings can intersect with abstraction and how this intersection can affect an internal narrative. Working within these historical languages of painting I seek to externalise internal experiences of relationships with people in my life and with myself.

EO Gill

Title of Work: Physical

Medium: Digital video

Physical is a single-channel video work captured by Gill and their collaborators on smart phones and amateur camcorders and given narrative form during the edit. It's ambivalence to definition is predicated by using the possibility of slipperiness and fracturedness as a methodological model. Through amateurism, improvisation and vacuous performance modes, paired with heavily stylised makeup and costuming and with editing techniques which see the image literally slide out of frame, Physical works to shatter historical accounts of bodies, proposing new, fluid expressions of gender, family and class.

EO Gill is a video maker whose work interrogates gender, class-politics and intimacy. Gill uses reality TV, amateur and documentary modes, conceiving loose plots and working with friends and family in order to seek new ways for intimacy and connection. Gill’s videos are intentionally amateur, low-fi, unfinished and fractured, depicting dreamlike figures and slippery hyper-characters in excess of a biopolitical system that cannot hold them.

Gill was the 2018 recipient of the NSW (Emerging) Artist Fellowship and has recently exhibited at Artspace, Campbelltown Art Centre and Performance Space (AU). Gill has completed residencies with BaiR Emerging, Banff Centre (CA), National Film & Sound Archive (AU) and NES (IS). Gill graduated with a BA (Hons Class 1) from UNSW and an MFA at UNSW Art & Design and was on the 2016-17 Board of Directors at Firstdraft. Gill is a core and founding member of the art collective Hissy Fit and is the lead videographer on acclaimed 24-hour live performance The Second Woman which continues to tour both nationally and internationally.

Mark du Potiers

Title of Work: Yellow Peril, Yellow Fever

Medium: Textile installation

Yellow Peril, Yellow Fever is a work about learning to be comfortable in your own skin. This installation invites the audience to walk through vibrant hues of soft honey drips that metamorphose from creamy beiges to brilliant gold, its title and symbolism alluding to crude stereotypes often used in reference to Asian(-Australian) people of colour.

The artist of this sculpture has battled obsessive-compulsive disorder, anxiety, and depression their whole life – critically impacted from identifying as queer and further complicated by cultural heritage. Growing up as an Australian without good role models of Asian descent nor those identifying as queer leads to an inhibition of pride, identity, and confidence in oneself.

Flour, sugar, salt, paper – and even Jesus – are most often repurposed to be White in our society, irrespective of their basic essential function. Honey is something we choose to purify but don’t feel its colour requires intervention. In the spirit of this thinking, it takes a great amount of courage then to realise that you are (and have always been) sweet enough for everyone – but most importantly, yourself.

Mark du Potiers is an artist born, bred, and based in Meanjin / Brisbane, examining cultural identities through interdisciplinary sculpture. As an Australian who happens to have both Hongkonger and Chinese heritage, Mark draws from experiences and anxieties of growing up as a person of colour in contemporary Australia. Not bound to a particular material nor method, his practice explores notions of power and privilege; assumption; stereotyping; and ideals of value and beauty. du Potiers’ work also references queerness and its additional complexities when viewed through a multicultural lens.

Mark has exhibited through Queensland College of Art, Griffith University; in spaces across south-east Queensland; and in Kulin Nation / Melbourne. He has been an exhibiting finalist in the 2018 Midsumma Australia Post Art Prize and 2019 Yern-da-ville / Footscray Art Prize, in addition to being awarded residencies with House Conspiracy, Museum of Brisbane, and soft space. du Potiers is also a founding member of XYZ Artist-Run-Initiative – a recipient of the National Association for the Visual Arts (NAVA) ‘New Space’ ARI mentorship program.

Paul Piccione

Title of Work: Me, Myself and iPhone

Medium: Sculpture

The smartphone is the truest representation of a person. It archives the holder’s professional, social, and private self. Through predictive algorithms the smart phone can even estimate a person’s unconscious desires. The camera application documents our physical form, the contact list our social standing, the mail folder our professional self, the dating profile, our sexual selves, the notepad our emotions, dreams and inspirations. In this Gestalt way the smartphone has become the most accurate self portrait ever.

In a time that we all balance the desire to be seen and the desire to be private I argue for transparency. In the hope that we can combat shame and divisiveness, that we can ask for equal accountability amongst our leaders I, with gut wrenching anxiety, offer you, my self…phone.

Paul Piccione grew up in coastal Australia with six dirty siblings and two Catholic parents in a tiny fibro house, in a tiny conservative town. In a way to distinguish themself from the other children and win affection from the parental unit Paul took up painting. Completing a Bachelor of Psychology they went on to study at the National Art School in Sydney. Their work is informed by these studies, particularly by Social Psychology and Attachment Theories. It is multidisciplinary but often focuses on the effects of growing up Queer in remote Australia and the sublimation of sex and sexuality. Their work is esoteric, like a coloured kerchief in the back pocket, Polari language of Victorian England, a glance, a gesture. Code has always been a part of Queer identity and Queer art will always mean more to the marginalised, to the inducted. They strive to make art that is grounded in this rich Queer history and rejoices the oppressed. First and foremost, they are a storyteller, this is just the medium.

Samuele Tomasulo

Title of Work: Empathic Deniability

Medium: Concrete cladding, mirrors, steel, enamel paint, acrylic paint, phosphorescence, handmade paint with seashells, gold, silver, iron and copper

Emotional intelligence is the assertive capacity and awareness to control one’s reactions and respond empathically. Fear, love, excitement, and pain all impact and direct our lives. My heart was broken, so I will not be vulnerable. Sex excites me, so I will have sex. As an artist, I experiment with emotions to help understand others. I hope to expand our collective emotional intelligence by creating sound sculptures that pull my audience into the mind of a specific character. Bringing light to the trauma of growing up in a world that trains a group of people to believe that they are degenerate. Giving a voice to those silenced by society, especially the LGBTQI+ community. I hope to find my art somewhere in the middle of emotions screaming to be heard and someone genuinely listening. For Empathic Deniability, one structure voices the external words and phrases said to people living with HIV on a regular basis. While the other structure voices the internal reaction to those phrases, this piece confronts the audience by putting them into the mind of someone who is struggling with stigma every day.

Samuele Tomasulo is an Italian American artist who was raised in Switzerland. His career as a working artist began in 2016 when he was recruited by an independent art agency to exhibit his paintings in a solo exhibition in Melbourne, Australia. Tomasulo has synaesthesia, where each scent, sound, touch, taste, and vision has a layer of colors attached to it. He paints these sensual experiences in vibrant explosions he calls partgkoons, named after a language from his childhood imagination. His vast background in diverse social and cultural environments around the world motivates him to create change with his work. Tomasulo is interested in connecting people and fighting for a more universal understanding of fundamental human rights. He is interested in using his art to expand a collective knowledge of emotional integrity. He collects information by interviewing hundreds of people around the world and using overlapping thoughts as a script to present to people in small intimate spaces. Tomasulo uses sound sculptures to create emotional immersion. This allows the audience to interpret the sound in their own voice and feel the pain, love, fear, and excitement of humanity.

TomboyBill / Matthew Schiavello (collaboration)

Title of Work: 'X' 'V' and 'I' (3 works submitted)

Medium: Abstract forms carved out of enamel-coated glass w/photographic print revealed beneath

Drawing on their own personal stories, this body of work explores the reality and experiences of the LQBTQI+ community, trying to stay safe in an often hostile world.

Artists TomboyBill and Matthew Schiavello, both members of the LQBTQI+ community, throw light on how they are often forced to blend in, become ‘invisible’ in public, so as not to draw attention to their true selves for risk of harm.

White, enamel-coated glass - representing what is used to cover, protect and hide that which lies beneath, is carved out, to reveal parts of a photographic image - a glimpse of themselves. The process of creating this image involved the experimental use of boiling 35mm film; the pushing of boundaries, a sense of adventure, freedom - true self-expression

This innovative and unique artistic collaboration celebrates what they hope the future will bring - that which was once hidden, will now find a new acceptance and be given the opportunity to shine.


TomboyBill’s work is an exploration of life after taking a leap of faith from the comfortable life of a commercial artist to the uneasy, introspective life of a fine artist.

The artwork, often described as ‘powerful’, ‘bold’ and ‘gritty’, also conveys feelings of vulnerability. Boasting dynamic colour, scribbles, dribbles and scratches, using both organic, inorganic and often discarded materials, TomboyBill finds hidden beauty and value in the unloved.


Matthew Schiavello works with both digital and analogue photography. Shooting a broad range of styles, he prefers abstract and/or experimentation. Matthew’s abstract work aims to bring the viewer’s attention to the beauty that exists all around them, especially in torn, decayed or damaged transient urban spaces. Matthew also experiments largely with 35mm film by affecting or damaging the film emulsion, generally prior to shooting, manipulating the captured images to create something new and unique.

Matthew’s work often holds a mirror up the world that exists around us and invites us all to reflect upon how we see ourselves and others in our world.

Wesley Downing

Title of Work: Code

Medium: website

Code is an online generative work by Wesley Dowling that fragments and transforms photographs into pixelated flowing colour. Machine learning face detection algorithms capture the viewer's image as an RGB subpixel array. The image is then sampled to initialise and produce an ever-changing generative colour field.

The shifting composition is an outcome of research into how queering can be used to identify and subvert normative ideological assumptions in computational digital photography. For example, machine learning algorithms have been developed to detect a person's gender trained on image sets of physical bodies. This algorithm design perpetuates normative notions of gender, as gender cannot be determined from physical appearance alone.

Queering is used in the work as a mode of resistance to scrutiny and surveillance by distorting the camera’s visual taxonomies through which people are recognized and regulated. The work undermines visual recognition to find a more open and variable mode of rendering that disrupts societal norms and essentialized notions of identity.

Wesley Dowling is a Melbourne-based emerging queer artist whose work encompasses projection, installation, and interactive digital media. He creates site-responsive installations that investigate the characteristics of electronic images. His practice of exploring the qualities of the electronic image is a response to the technological changes within photography in the last 20 years, and the move from print to virtual screen based mediums.

Wesley is currently an honours candidate in Bachelor of Arts (Fine Art) at RMIT. His work has been exhibited galleries and public spaces such as Testing Grounds (Melbourne 2018) and West Projections Festival (2018).

Wet and Free Collective

Title of Work: Saint Mihajlo

Medium: Pen, pencil, ink, marker, watercolour, acrylic, pastel, glitter and stars

Saint Mihajlo is one of the patron saints of the Serbian Orthodox Church. Here he is reconfigured as a person of many identities [and genders]. He reflects the thoughts and feelings of the Wet and Free Collective as they collaboratively produced the work during a drawing event at this year's Winter Solstice.

Wet and Free Collective are a group of LQBTIQ+ and POC artists who meet on a regular basis. They collaborate on drawings, often on a large scale or in public, and with the involvement of members of the community. Coming from backgrounds as diverse as performance, visual art, architecture, and sexological bodywork they relish opportunities to make art and explore their current states of life, love, identity and loss in the 21st Century Australian environment.

Zoë Bastin

Title of Work: Volition

Medium: Two channel video

Volition is the faculty or power of using one’s will. When thinking through a body, how can I create movements anew. I wonder if it's possible to use the power of will or concept to let go of the thousands of gestures built up over time that become the language of how a body moves. To create a new way of finding strength. From pointed toes in ballet classes to Dad teaching me how to wink. The body is always moving, and as it moves it constantly layers familiar gestures over one another to create a vocabulary. Volition’s aim was to unlearn these movements, to unknow the gendered, sexualised and objectified ways I had been taught to move, to find my body anew.

Zoë Bastin is an artist living in Melbourne. Bastin works in-between sculpture and dance, creating choreography, objects, videos, photos and performances. Exploring the materiality of bodies and objects, her practice re-imagines her body and its connection to spatial, material and social contexts. Her recent project choreographic project Volition tries to queer movements inherited from dance training to find the body anew.

Currently undertaking her PhD at RMIT University, Bastin transforms patriarchal hierarchies of bodies and objects within dance and sculptural practice. Bastin’s current projects include the Queer(y)ing Creative Practice Reading Group, ongoing choreography That which was once familiar and Waves are Disturbances for BLINDSIDE.

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