Award Winners: Hayden Fowler - Art Collector

Issue 47, January - March 2009

The profile appeared in the "Award Winners" feature, part of the annual special issue "50 Things Collectors Need to Know 2009"

A United States citizen by birth, Gordon Samstag taught at the South Australian School of Art in the 1960s before it was incorporated into the University of South Australia. In his will, he bequeathed in perpetuity funds to SASA for a number of annual scholarships to allow selected Australian visual artists to “study and develop their artistic capacities, skills and talents outside of Australia”. Established in 1992, the Anne & Gordon Samstag International Visual Arts Scholarships provide the costs incurred by artists for 12 months of overseas study including return airfares, study fees and a remarkably generous consideration for associated expenses.

One of this year’s scholarship winners is New Zealand born Hayden Fowler – no stranger to recognition and reward, having previously been awarded the 2006 Australia Council new work grant, the 2002 University of New South Wales Honours Scholarship and the 2001 Basil and Muriel Hooper Scholarship.

Fowler won the Samstag scholarship for his extraordinary video and photographic work, of which goats are the subject matter. Louise Martin-Chew, writing in her Samstag essay Alternative Realities, says Fowler’s stills and videos, the media for which he is best known, “have a strong sense of theatrical narrative. Fowler’s animals operate instinctively within a highly sanitised set or background, but represent aspects of human nature.”

While his work is often viewed as exploring the increasing disconnect between nature and culture, arts writer Andrew Frost takes a more optimistic view of Fowler’s work. While it “might seem to infer a bleak view of our relationship to the natural world…it’s far more hopeful than it might at first appear. His critique proposes that what we call ‘nature’ is part of our fragmented, decontextualised experience of everyday life.”

Carrie Miller

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