Clunes artist Dr Thembi Soddell has been announced as the recipient of a fellowship through the federal government's Regional Arts Fund.
Dr Soddell will receive a $20,000 grant to complete an art and research project that investigates how experimental art practice can be sustainable and relevant in a rural location.
Dr Soddell, a sound artist, moved to Clunes six years ago after spending nine years living on Hoddle Street in Melbourne.
The experience of being an experimental artist in regional Victoria while frequently travelling to Melbourne for work led to the idea for the project.
"My time was really divided between Clunes and Melbourne. It was exhausting, taking a toll on my health as well as my art practice," Dr Soddell said.
"I wanted to start thinking about how I could centre my practice in the location I live and had questions in my mind about how relevant my practice was to the community I live within.
"I wanted to explore that question more and how to have a sustainable art practice in a regional location, instead of being reliant on travelling to and from the city."
As a sound artist, Dr Soddell works with an abstract form of sound, those not everyone would consider musical, to create emotional compositions.
I wanted to start thinking about how I could centre my practice in the location I live.Dr Thembi Soddell
Their art has a strong focus on using sound to understand mental health, exploring their own lived experiences with depression, anxiety and trauma.
Dr Soddell shares sound art through CD releases, sound installations in galleries and performances where the audience experiences the sound in darkness.
Dr Soddell plans to set up a website that documents their research into regional arts practice, conducted through conversations with community members about regional arts.
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They will also present a series of events in Clunes featuring sound art.
"COVID is going to shape the way these public performances end up being, but the idea is to hold some concerts as well as some discussion groups around sound and mental health and encouraging people to have creative approaches to understanding their experiences," Dr Soddell said.
The project will also involve partnerships with Melbourne-based sound art organisation Liquid Architecture and Clunes Neighbourhood House.
"I feel so grateful to receive the grant. It is a difficult time for everybody at the moment," Dr Soddell said.
"This is a little bit of relief financially. It makes a massive difference to the the long term sustainability of my career as well."
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