Congratulations to Sydney-based artist Travis De Vries who has been awarded the $50,000 NSW Aboriginal Arts Fellowship. De Vries will use his funding to research the Gamilaroi language, objects and lore while on residency at the Australian Museum this year. This will inform a new body of work for an exhibition in 2019 at the Muswellbrook Regional Arts Centre.
Traversing painting, contemporary dance, choreography, music and writing, De Vries describes his practice as “world building” in the vein of science fiction and says it is “graphic novel inspired.”
“I grew up with an interesting culture base. We were the only Indigenous family in a non-Indigenous town,” says De Vries.
“I was interested in the lore and mythology stories from our culture. In my work I’m deifying them and making them heroic, which is something that hasn’t really happened. We don’t celebrate our cultural heroes. There’s no ‘Thor’ of Indigenous stories so I’ve been working on creating these strong characters, taking inspiration in stories that I heard when I was younger, and putting those characters and those themes through the Western model of the hero’s journey narrative.”
At the announcement, Create NSW CEO Michael Brealey said, “Through careful research and experimentation, Travis is able to interpret Aboriginal culture, bringing it to life with a standout graphic style that appeals to both Western and contemporary Indigenous audiences. He has a very interesting project ahead of him and we’re excited to see the works he will unveil in 2019.”
De Vries joins past recipients of the fellowship, such as theatre producer and curator Andrea James and author and arts leader Cathy Craigie.