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Affecting art

Graduate Selena de Carvalho is the 2016 winner of the $35,000 Hatched Schenberg Art Fellowship.

Artist Selena de Carvalho’s grandmother is a firm supporter of her granddaughter’s creative work.

She has an enormous early piece of Selena’s in her hallway, which Selena begs her to remove every time she visits.

“I say, ‘can’t we get rid of this and I’ll give you something newer?’ But she loves it. She says, ‘I can look at it from my bed.’ She loves to wake up to it. It’s not my favourite work…but her rationale is beautiful.”

Selena’s grandmother is not alone in her strong admiration for granddaughter’s work.

Selena has just been announced as the 2016 winner of the $35,000 Hatched Schenberg Art Fellowship, for her Honours artwork Ecological Haunts (ii) (2015).

Selena’s winning piece features in the Perth Institute of Contemporary Arts’ annual survey exhibition, the Hatched: National Graduate Show.

Hatched showcases Australia’s most promising graduating artists, with the nation’s universities putting forward their selections. Just one artist is selected from all of the Hatched participants to win the Fellowship.

Ecological Haunts is an immersive and thought-provoking installation, using video, sound and elements of the natural world to immerse the viewer into a sensory experience.

One of the nicest things about it was that the work was totally out of my situational context; it wasn’t judged by anyone who knows me or my practice, and in that way the work really spoke for itself.

The judges said: This work is both intricate and affecting. It displays a deep level of enquiry by the artist as well as a confident and cohesive use of diverse media.

“Most artists aspire to have work that goes out into the world and makes its own connections and catalyses feeling for people.

“It’s also a good increase in confidence. It means that work’s voice had clarity.”

Selena is also currently the artist in residence at the Hutchins School, a program supported through Arts Tasmania. In July she will travel to India with artists from Melbourne, alongside the Slow Art Collective.

“I’m also the artist in residence at MONA’s 24 Carrot Gardens program, the MONA arts, health and literacy program which includes the ongoing development of food gardens in each participating school.

With all of her creative work, and an eight-year-old and a 13-year-old child, Selena says she a very “busy human.”

Like her grandmother, Selena’s kids are big fans of her work.

I’m a sole parent and when they were littler they often collaborated on my projects. They are really supportive and interested. They’re cool personalities. We have a great time.

Selena began studying at University as a non-school leaver, aged 24.

“I loved my time at art school. I received the Jim Bacon Memorial Scholarship, so I had a little bit of extra support to invest more time and resources into studying.

“Studying is such a privilege, especially in a fine arts capacity, reading and then creating work- I love it.

“My daughter at that point was two. I did a three quarter load for my studies and took some time off when I had my son in 2007, so I took two years off at that time. 

“Having time to myself to study was a real privilege in the broader context of my life. 

My kids are quite familiar with the Uni campus! They came along to a few lectures and different components of my study life- it was pretty integrated.

“When we go past the Uni, my son says 'mum, that’s YOUR Uni.' He thinks it’s my place specifically.”

Selena and her son attended an exhibition opening last year which featured artwork from a young boy.

My son was so inspired. He held my hand on the way home and said, ‘mum I want to make some electronic work, I want to be an artist, I love that.'

“Experiencing art and creativity has, I think, gifted my kids with a bunch of ideas and ways of making, thinking and being."