Sheila Foundation announces inaugural Michela and Adrian Fini Artist Fellowship

Sheila – A Foundation for Women in Visual Art has announced the inaugural Michela and Adrian Fini Artist Fellowship valued at $20,000.

Sydney-based artist Salote Tawale has been awarded the inaugural fellowship, an opportunity that will allow her to create a body of new work for her forthcoming solo exhibition I don’t see colour at Perth Institute of Contemporary Arts (PICA) in July 2021.

Sheila Foundation board director Michela Fini and her husband Adrian have pledged a donation to create this unique fellowship, which will be awarded annually over three years, and will support women artists and contemporary arts institutions.

Michela said she and Adrian felt it was particularly important to launch the fellowship at a time when the COVID-19 pandemic had made supporting female artists, and spaces for them to show in, even more crucial.

“It was important to Adrian and I that we create something significant, that provides a much-needed opportunity in the Australian arts sector. The Fellowship is designed to make a practical difference to both artists and contemporary art spaces,” said Michela.

The fellowship is unique in that it will support the development of new work by contemporary women artists at a critical juncture of their career, whether they be emerging, mid-career or senior artists, and assist in the presentation and documentation of the work at a Contemporary Art Organisations Australia (CAOA) contemporary art space.

Fellowship recipient Salote Tawale said that being able to develop the project with PICA was an important part of the opportunity.

“A huge thank you to the Sheila Foundation for supporting this exhibition and allowing me as an artist to develop this project with PICA beyond my original expectations.”


Image courtesy Perth Institute of Contemporary Arts (PICA). Photo by Duncan Wright. 

Chair of CAOA, Alexie Glass-Kantor said the organisation recognised the vision of Sheila as pioneering equity and representation in the arts through the commissioning and development of new work.

“This inaugural fellowship is a unique and extraordinary opportunity for women artists to produce new work at a pivotal point in their career. It’s particularly important at this time to support artists to create and expand upon ambitious work, and invite audiences to encounter new ways of thinking about artistic creative practice. CAOA look forward to collaborating with Sheila by supporting women artists across our organisations through the Michela and Adrian Fini Artist Fellowship.”

PICA will be the first CAOA partner to host the fellowship and its director Amy Barrett-Lennard commented that the COVID pandemic has highlighted the stark inequities across society and in particular the precarious financial circumstances that artists have been coping with for decades

“It is now more important than ever for women artists to receive this kind of support. We are thrilled to be working with Salote Tawale on this significant solo exhibition and commend the foresight of Sheila Foundation and Michela and Adrian Fini in embarking on this exciting new fellowship.

“Salote Tawale is one of Australia’s most exciting artistic voices and this fellowship will allow us to commission, contextualise and present bold new work by her as she enters a significant point of her career.”

Fellowship recipients will be chosen in consultation with CAOA member organisations; individual artists may not apply.

Download Media Release

Read more

What’s it like for a young woman artist trying to make her way in the artworld of today? Bella Chidlow is a recent art school graduate interning with the SHEILA Foundation. Here

“The Australian slang term ‘sheila’, a derogatory term for a woman, is a relic of another, more sexist time. But, like other contested words, it has been reclaimed and reappr