This year our Artist in Residence program has had to operate a little differently, not able to welcome the interstate and international artists who usually inhabit our studios. The silver lining is that many more artists from regional WA have been able to take up residency. We recently caught up with Jacky Cheng and Naomie Hatherley to find out more about their practice and what this year has meant for them.

Name: Jacky Cheng
Instagram: @jackychengart

Jacky Cheng

Tell us about yourself, where you’re based and your practice?

I was born and raised in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia. I received my Bachelor of Architecture (Honours 1) from the University of New South Wales in 2003.  At the same time, I was offered a sessional teaching position at the Faculty of Built Environment at UNSW and was immediately drawn to the creative energy around me.

My introduction into the manipulation of paper was highly influenced by my elders on cultural practices and duties performed for Chinese Ritual purposes. I am most familiar with paper fibres. My competency in working with papers began in my formative years. The women in my family will fold hundreds of joss papers which later include the act of burning the papers to pay respect to our ancestors.

Growing up as a female in Malaysia the creative arts was frowned upon. The phrase ‘I will not invest in you because you will one day lose your surname’ adds to the unfathomable emotion. My journey to gain the trust and respect of my father began when I chose to be an Architect. When I graduated, I became very good at drafting toilet details and that kept my parents happy that I have an ‘occupation’.

However, I was secretly making art from the time I arrived in Australia in 2001. It became apparent to me that making a living out of being an artist was possible. It gave me permission to do what I really loved. I decided on the path to be an artist and later became a part of the creative community in Western Australia. I am currently based in Broome, in a town where the land, people and stories matter.

What are you working on while here on residency?

I have been very fortunate to be one of the lucky recipients of the Resilience Art Grant from Regional Arts WA. My late grandmother left me her mooncake mold and I’ve never once looked at it as a cooking utensil because it is such a beautiful functional sculpture. It tells a story about festivity, culture, community, reunion, identity, family gatherings, mythology and many more auspicious beliefs. I am very interested in exploring mold making and/or replicating the mooncake molds and/or reinterpret my own mooncake mold with my immigrant identity. There are a few facets to this experimentation which include further exploration of using this mold with a medium that I am more familiar with – paper. More importantly, I am excited to play, explore and investigate.

Artwork by Jacky Cheng. Supplied by the artist

In the context of COVID 19, what’s it meant for your practice to be able to come to FAC to complete your residency?

As Australia is still in political tension with the Chinese government, I cannot help but feel a slight burden on my shoulders. The feeling of isolation during COVID19 is magnified by the racist remarks from world leaders in the media targeting Chinese people irrespective of our nationality.

But we are all in this together right?

The residency opportunity presented to me by FAC really ultimately means I am able to play, explore, investigate, connect with peers, make new artist friends, connect with people I’ve ever only connected via social platform to now seeing them in person. Frankly, I am a little nervous to be amongst all these amazing practicing artists. I am looking forward to all the conversations, constructive criticisms and advice. This is a big deal for a regional artist.

What’s up next? 

I will be here in FAC until the end of March (very blessed). 2021 yet again presents another exciting year for my practice where I am growing exponentially with different working groups and people in the creative and built environment industry. Some projects are already in the pipeline and in discussion. Unfortunately, I am unable to disclose anymore than to say… YAY!

One of the ongoing projects that started in 2019 for 2020 was temporarily disrupted due to COVID. In short, I am one of 4 participating Broome artist + 1 international artist working on a collaborative ephemeral public art for the Shinju Matsuri festival in August 2021.

Hopefully, exhibition opportunities arise in the near future and if and when the world opens up safely again, I will be back to Finland to continue my residency.

My residency has been supported in part by the Resilience Art Grant from Regional Arts WA.

Name: Naomie Hatherley
Instagram: @n0meshath

Naomie Hatherley

Tell us about yourself, where you’re based and your practice?

I am an educator, mother and artist from Broome. I came down to Perth in July for a short residency and have followed it up with this more recent one.

What are you working on while here on residency?

I’m working on a body of work that explores the parallels between women in art and women in sport (AFL). I have been creating works to document the growth and spirit of the women’s game, in effect ‘keeping score’ by referencing key dates and stats in the game across the different league levels using old discarded score tin plates painted with women players that intersect the numbers. For example, did you know the first Australian Rules game played by women was in Perth in 1915? Or that the WAFL agreed to start a women’s league in 1987?  I have used my time at FAC to research the women’s game here in WA by meeting with and yarning to die-hard fans, players, coaches and other instrumental insiders in an attempt to characterise the unique culture of the women’s game and collect inspiration for further artwork development.

In the context of COVID 19, what’s it meant for your practice to be able to come to FAC to complete your residency?

Being able to travel in WA was such a privilege, so was being able to talk to and photograph the East Freo Sharks playing in the first rounds of WAFLW games in Perth following lockdown was incredible when I came down in July for my first residency. I was able to establish many contacts that I followed up on for this second residency in November/December, which was brilliant.

What’s up next? 

One of my Keeping Score artworks was meant to be exhibited in May at John Curtin Gallery (Curtin University) but was cancelled due to COVID. While this was disappointing it has given me more time to dive deeper into this idea and spend more time reflecting on how a body of work might encapsulate the story of women in football. I’d like to have a more comprehensive body of work together that I hope to exhibit in the near future. In the meantime, I plan to keep documenting the artwork progress on Instagram.

Find out more about our Artist in Residence program