emerging writers


Initiated in 2005, the Gertrude Contemporary Emerging Writers Program provides a unique opportunity for Australian emerging visual arts writers to develop their writing practice, publish their work and gain further insight into the field of contemporary art writing. 


The aim of the Emerging Writers Program is to professionally support emerging arts writers who are committed to a career in the arena of contemporary art and criticism. This program contributes to the growth of a rich and insightful critical culture around contemporary art, providing participants with professional development and mentorship. This is the longest-running program of its kind in Australia and offers unparalleled access to professional networks and the opportunity to publish in some of Australia's leading arts publications and organisations.


Gertrude Emerging Writers have been published in, Art Monthly Australia, eyelineunMagazineDiscipline, West Space JournalVaultDissect and Realtime.


From 2013–2016, The Copyright Agency Cultural Fund has been a major supporter of the Emerging Writers Program.

Emerging Writers Program 2020

4 - UnnamedGertrude Contemporary is pleased to relaunch the Emerging Writers Program, an initiative focused on facilitating professional development for early practice arts writers committed to pursuing a career in the arena of contemporary art and criticism. First initiated in 2005, the program has since this time connected 47 writers with 43 mentors towards the research, development and publication of new pieces of writing on artists’ practices, exhibitions and contemporary arts discourse in Australia. Over the past 15 years the cast of contributing mentors to the program represents many of the most important and influential figures of the Australian art world, including prominent institutional directors and curators, philosophers, cultural critics, journal editors, and independent writers and curators.


For the 2020 program, emphasis will shift away from focusing on writing about individual artists and exhibitions, and instead cast broader speculative perspectives upon the repositioning and potential futures in light of the current pandemic, and shifting global political landscape. Towards this, writers will be connected with individual mentors and embark on a process of researching and writing essays with the support, guidance and critical contributions of the invited 2020 mentors. Writers will be encouraged to develop new pieces of writing that reflect upon the current and future impacts of the evolving health pandemic and economic crisis on the realms of arts and culture. Essays might reflect upon the impacts and envisaged changes to how art is experienced and consumed, how and for whom it is produced, what physical contexts might remain for it, and how this situation might contribute to or amplify a shift away from experiencing art in real life. 


Gertrude invites applications from writers based anywhere in Australia to express their interest in participating in the Emerging Writers Program 2020. There are four opportunities to be paired with and mentored by four leading thinkers and writers over the course of a three-month process toward the development of a long form essay that will upon completion be published by Gertrude and in partnership with progressive arts and cultural journals and magazines. First Nations writers are strongly encouraged to apply.
The four writers selected to participate in the program will each receive an honorarium of $750.

Gertrude Contemporary is thrilled to partner with leading publisher ART INK towards the publication of the outcomes of the Gertrude Emerging Writers Program in late 2020.

2020 Mentors
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Tristen Harwood
Tristen Harwood is an Indigenous writer, cultural critic and independent researcher, a descendent of Numbulwar where the Rose River opens onto the Gulf of Carpentaria. He lives and works in the Northern Territory and Naarm. Tristen’s writing is published in Australian and international publications including The MonthlyArtReviewOverland JournalArt AlmanacUn MagazineMetro magazineArt + Australia, amongst others.
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Tara McDowell
Tara McDowell is Associate Professor and Founding Director of Curatorial Practice at Monash University. She lectures and publishes widely, and has held curatorial appointments at the CCA Wattis Institute for Contemporary Arts in San Francisco, the San Francisco Museum of Modern Art, and the Massachusetts Museum of Contemporary Art. She received a PhD in the History of Art from the University of California, Berkeley. Her most recent book, The Householders: Robert Duncan and Jess, was published by MIT Press in 2019, and in 2018 The Artist As was published by Sternberg Press.
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Lisa Radford
Lisa Radford uses conversation and correspondence as a way of exploring the shared space between images, place and people through writing, editing, exhibition making and education. More often than not she works with others, most recently with Sam George and Yhonnie Scarce but previously with TCB art inc. for some 15 years, and as a member of the collective DAMP. Currently working in the Painting Department at the Victorian College of the Arts, University of Melbourne, she shares thoughts publicly and intermittently in the The Saturday Paper.
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Natalie Thomas
Natalie Thomas is an artist and writer who maintains a diverse and independent practice that maintains storytelling as the basis of culture. Her work engages with the mass media and its role in how we see each other and the world. nat&ali (1999–2005) was a collaboration that riffed with riot grrrl strategies. nattysolo (one woman, one camera, no film) is an ongoing endurance performance project that manifests in equal measures as social pages and social archive, fusing gossip and innuendo with astute cultural criticism.


Application Process

Applications should include the following as a single document saved in PDF format:

  • A cover letter discussing your interest in the program and indicating which mentor you’d like to me paired with (max 1 page)
  • A current CV (max 2 pages)
  • 2 examples of recent writing on art, contemporary culture, political analysis or philosophy (max 4 pages)
  • Applications are open to any writer self identified as early practice
  • Applicants can be based anywhere in the world, although must be an Australian citizen or permanent resident (in line with Copyright Agency guidelines)
  • There are no age restrictions
Selection Process
  • All applications will be assessed by Gertrude staff with the 2020 mentors
  • Applications will be assessed on the quality of previous examples of writing submitted
  • Applicants will be assessed on their engagement with and interest in Australian cultural, social and political issues (as outlined in their expression of interest, CV of previous and current vocational, education, and publishing histories) 
  • Gertrude will attempt to connect selected writers with nominated mentors, but can not guarantee a mentorship with nominated writing mentor

To submit your application please email the above material to apply@gertrude.org.au on or before 11:59pm on Monday 27 July 2020.

If you have questions about the program or application process please email apply@gertrude.org.au before midday Friday 24 July.

The Gertrude Contemporary Emerging Writers Program is generously supported by the Copyright Agency through the Cultural Fund.

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Image | A woman social distancing while wearing a flu mask during the 1918-1919 flu pandemic.Topical Press Agency/Getty Images