Mentoring Matters Seminar

Artists and Mentors from the VCA Access Program discuss the importance of mentorship in the arts. Held online, Monday 12 October 2020.

There is a long history of mentorship in the arts. The guild system, apprenticeships and other systems of artistic socialisation were intended to support and reproduce professional life. Camille Pissarro devoted his life to nurturing young painters such as Gauguin, Seurat and Cézanne. More recently David Hockney remarked of his mentoring relationship with the young German artist Matthias Weischer "good teachers have always learned from their students". The roles of mentor and protégé are overlapping; it is not a simple a pedagogical relationship, it is a porous identity.

Comprising a panel of leading Australian artists and their protégés, this discussion will consider how mentoring relationships - marked by open exchange and dialogue - might help to sustain artistic communities. Panellists will consider mentoring as creative and generative; its role as a support in times of vulnerability and precarity; entrées into the commercial art world; friendship and trust; constructive feedback; and artists' relationships with their mentors.

This discussion was instigated by the VCA Access program which connects VCA Fine Arts Masters students with prominent alumni artists and their representing galleries. Artists and art schools are interconnected as they share common artistic values and goals. They are often the source of relationships that continue to sustain beyond the formal association.

Ben Armstrong - VCA Access Mentor, represented by Tolarno Galleries
Selina Ou - VCA Access Mentor, represented by Sophie Gannon Gallery
Bryan Spier - VCA Access Mentor, represented by Sarah Scout Presents
Spencer Harrison - VCA MCA, artist
Kachun Lay - VCA MCA, artist
Sarah Rudledge - VCA MFA, artist

Belinda Scerri - Centre of Visual Art Fellow

Lila Katzen | 'Manifest Destiny: Mentors and Protégés', Art Journal
Michael Regnier | 'Pandemic Art: How Artists Have Depicted Disease', The Art Newspaper
Hilarie Sheets| 'Newly Minted Artists, Facing a Precarious Future, Take Action', The New York Times

Art in Isolation series with VCA Access Mentors and Artists:
Benjamin Armstrong, Selina Ou, Bryan Spier, Spencer Harrison, Sarah Rudledge


Cover Image: Selina Ou, "Untitled #5", 2011, chromogenic photograph.