New grantee Tia Madden is an emerging visual artist and writer whose practice is motivated by the shifting opacities of meaning at the intersection of drawing and language.

Questioning if knowledge can be contained in art, Tia considers the gap between the image and the word as a space to explore, working to activate, engage, and destabilise processes of meaning-making.

Supported by an Emerging Artist Grant, Tia will undertake an artist residency at Out Of The Circle, an arts organisation in Cairo, Egypt, that facilitates and curates events, residencies, and exhibitions for new media and digital artists in a two-way exchange between the Egyptian and international art scenes.

During this time, Tia will be developing an ongoing research-based art project, exploring subjects and contemporary issues central to her artistic work, and expanding her networks into the international contemporary art scene.

Tell us about your artistic practice.

Grounded in drawing, my practice considers the capacity for abstract marks to generate meaning, and linguistic marks to pull meaning apart, entering a space of ambiguity.

In November of 2022, I graduated from the University of New South Wales Arts, Design & Architecture with a Bachelor of Fine Arts (Honours). As such, 2023 marks my first year of professional practice outside an educational context. This year, I was awarded Highly Commended in both the 2023 Gosford Art Prize and the 2023 Adelaide Perry Prize for Drawing. I have also been a finalist in the Tim Olsen Drawing Prize (2021, 2022) and the Jenny Birt Painting Prize (2022).

In 2022, I was selected as one of two winners of The Other Art Fair New Futures Award, involving a solo exhibition booth at The Cutaway in Barangaroo. I am also one of the selected artists in Penrith Regional Gallery's inaugural Ancher Points residency program for emerging artists, which involves a two-phase intensive mentorship leading to an on-site exhibition opening in January 2024.

I plan to continue my academic research in Fine Arts, and am committed to expanding both my network and practice into the national and international contemporary art scene.

What development opportunity will you undertake?

I will be undertaking a four-week artist residency in Cairo, Egypt, with Out Of The Circle, which follows a one-week self-directed residency in Athens, Greece. This residency is part of a broader twelve-month research-based art project concerned with the gap between the image and the word. It examines connections between drawing, language, art, and artefact, and considers how ancient languages that bridge these gaps can be misperceived, through both human and non-human perception.

We are at a historical turning point where AI systems offer new inhuman perspectives that extend beyond the edge of imagination. The opportunity to research its historical counterpart – the conception of written language – fundamentally shifts my research, concurrently offering collaborative relationships otherwise untenable without travel. Here, I can approach antiquities as a contemporary practicing artist, and consider how a responding art practice can be approached archaeologically.

The residency includes a structured itinerary, planned by Out Of The Circle founder Elham Khattab and residency director Nadine Ali, that will situate me within the contemporary art landscape in Cairo.

I will take part in collaborative open studio events while also touring historical sites through local perspectives, focusing on the presence of ancient signs and symbols. I will speak with academics to discern how new technologies are being used in attempts to translate texts that are perhaps unintelligible due to age and disuse.

I will build further connections with local artists to explore their creative responses to the rich local histories. The project will continue following my residency, with the experience contributing to upcoming exhibitions at Penrith Regional Gallery and Airspace Projects.

How do you hope to advance your artistic practice?

Having recently graduated, I am committed to seeking opportunities that will benefit the trajectory of my emerging career outside the educational context. This opportunity marks both my first professional artist residency, as well as my first international avenue of professional practice.

Mentorships with related artists, curators and researchers in Cairo will advance my artistic practice, offering perspectives on professional pathways as well as honing my expanded drawing-based processes. Continued remote relationships with the residency providers and connections made in Athens will support my career as I engage in exhibition opportunities in the latter half of the project, focused not on outcomes but on putting into practice what is learned through the development opportunity.

I endeavour to use this opportunity to challenge my visual practice and expand my artmaking processes based on site-specific observation and research.

As I seek to continue academic research, this opportunity further leads back into my research practice. The isolated research time and possibilities to develop multiple artistic collaborative relationships will prove imperative to the advancement of my practice. I am truly excited about the residency program and site-specific research and look forward to emerging as an artist in the international context.