Best Arts Program

Curating projects in a way that preserves individual artistic vision but also adds power to its message by rendering it part of a whole, takes creativity and a deft touch. Each of these nominees’ curatorial efforts have challenged, immersed and delighted us this past year; yielding programs that became greater than the sum of their parts.

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Yirran Miigaydhu: Weaving our ways to Country

Yirran Miigaydhu began in early 2015 as a weaving group for South West Sydney based Aboriginal women to connect and embrace knowledge through weaving. These meetings provide space for connection through conversation, sharing stories and interweaving women’s business and wellbeing with creativity. The group meet once a month at Campbelltown Arts Centre and are led by established weaver and artist, Aunty Phyllis Stewart who guides weaving with traditional and contemporary methods using natural fibres and grasses such as Lomandra and vines which are harvested from the surrounding area. For their exhibition at Campbelltown Arts Centre this year, the Yirran Miigaydhu weavers created vessels using basket-making techniques with dyed raffia and cane – bringing the old ways to new times, strengthening journeys and reviving connections. This program epitomises and celebrates the tradition of creating meeting spaces on Dharawal land.  

Photo courtesy of nominee

Tiles Lewisham

Run out of a refurbished shopfront on Wangal Country, the vibe of Tiles Lewisham can be summed up in one word: friendship. The studio, printmaking facility, and exhibition gallery is run by a team of eight friends, themselves all local artists, who started the project with the idea of creating a place where they could engage with and help build Sydney’s creative community by offering affordable studios and exhibition space to early-career artists. Tiles also hosts a number of workshops and residency programs, and currently has nine promising young artists in residence, including publishing group Stolon Press. With the eponymous, neutral-toned tiles lining the floors and walls, the space is a welcoming, accessible hub for the next generation of Sydney creatives. 

Photo courtesy of nominee

The Bearded Tit

Below the miniature wrecking ball on the awning of The Bearded Tit is a sign that reads “Free love not free beer”. It signifies the underlying ethos of the bar, gallery, creative space and Redfern institution, which is to inspire and empower intersecting communities by showcasing otherwise historically underrepresented creatives from queer and other communities. Owned by Joy Ng ‘and her ragtag band of misfits’, The Bearded Tit is a host to a diverse program of visual arts, talk series, live gigs, parties and performances. Highlights include the weekly Queerbourhood night of music and performances hosted by jonny seymour, Tit Talks panel series and quarterly visual arts program. Accessibility is a core value of The Tit, and all events are free.

Photo courtesy of nominee


Eucalyptusdom was an immersive, multisensory exhibition at the Powerhouse Ultimo exploring the cultural history of the gum tree. Architects Richard Leplastrier AO, Jack Gillmer and Adam Haddow, and 3D spatial designer Vania Contreras sought to locate the tree within its conceptual-historical framework, touching on the relationship between eucalypts and First Nations Australians, the tree’s role in the Federation arts and crafts movement, and the links between the eucalypt and the Powerhouse itself. As well as over 400 objects from the museum’s collection, including ceramics, furniture, and other applied arts, the exhibition showcased 17 commissioned works spanning the fields of design, architecture, film, applied arts, and performance. Eucalyptusdom combined innovative exhibition design with a thoughtful, unashamedly self-critical perspective, examining a seemingly simple Australian icon to ultimately provoke a reckoning with our colonial past. 

Photo courtesy of nominee

Granville Centre Art Gallery

The first exhibition shown in the Granville Centre Art Gallery when it opened in 2020 was ‘Ngaliya Diyam (We are Here)’, a celebration of the strength, resilience, and self-determination of the land’s owners, the Darug people. Since then, the space has been used to host a range of innovative and thought-provoking exhibitions. Its current exhibition, ‘Out of Order’, is a visual and tactile experience curated by Amy Claire Mills that seeks to reframe narratives around living with disabilities and/or chronic illness. The gallery also hosts workshops such as banner making and experimental book design, runs a studio program designed for people creatives with disabilities, and runs youth mentorship program ‘Over the Fence’, designed to foster the development of young artists in the area. With its radical inclusivity and focus on local history and culture, Granville Centre Art Gallery marks the next step forward in community art making and collaboration. 

Photo courtesy of nominee

Big Thick Energy

In an era where the words ‘body positivity’ are casually thrown around in almost every marketing campaign, Demon Derriere means it for real. Her three-day festival at Darlinghurst Theatre dubbed Big Thick Energy is a liberating celebration of all bodies – breaking down stereotypes and confronting fatphobia one Big Booty Flash Mob at a time. The festival features electrifying live performances, skill-sharing workshops, and a vibrant pop-up market. As a queer, POC and deaf/hard-of-hearing person herself, Demon has set out to ensure Big Thick Energy stresses inclusivity and accessibility. All events at the festival are AUSLAN interpreted, and explicitly aimed to create safe spaces for people of colour, queer, and disabled folk. Big Thick Energy brings a unique, authentic and straight-up euphoric brand of body acceptance to the Sydney scene, and we can’t wait to see what Demon and her team do next.

Photo courtesy of artist