Q&A with emerging artist Tyler Grace

Photo of the Tyler Grace exhibition at the Murray Art Museum Albury. Image courtesy the artist.

“These days I am not just a photographer, I am a storyteller and a conceptual artist. I try my best to tell stories through my art whether they be my stories, your stories or stories that we have come up with together” – Tyler Grace.

We caught up with emerging artist, Tyler Grace to discuss his recent Young Regional Artist Scholarship and his exhibition at the Murray Art Museum Albury (MAMA).

Why did you apply for the Young Regional Artist Scholarship (YRAS)?

I applied so I could further my development as a photographer and turn my passion into a career, which it has allowed me to do. I had been doing photography for four years, and wasn’t really getting anywhere in terms of making a career out of it.

Being chosen as a finalist in the Murray Art Museum Albury’s (MAMA) National Photography Prize a couple of months before finding out I was receiving the scholarship last year was the start of my passion turning into my career, but the scholarship has given that start a huge boost!

What activities did you undertake as part of the Scholarship?

I am partaking in a mentorship under internationally awarded photographer Andrew Pearce, where he gives me image reviews, any advice that I ask for, and he also comes down from Sydney to mentor me during some of my photo shoots, and he lets me learn from watching him on his photo shoots.

I was originally doing a series of workshops through MAMA as well, but due to changes at MAMA and workshops that were cancelled due to low numbers, I will also be doing workshops outside of the gallery, which will all come later in the year.

The cost of room hire and signage for my solo exhibition was also part of the scholarship, along with an artist fee to create the works.

What has receiving the scholarship meant for you as a regional artist?

It has meant so much to me! It’s really hard to get a start in an art-based career in regional areas like Albury, as a lot of opportunities are the cities like Sydney and Melbourne. So the Scholarship has helped me so much in that regard.

I am now getting more commissions than I ever have before, and my exhibition The Chronic Diaries, which the Scholarship has helped me complete, is soon to be toured around Australia, starting with the Sydney Fringe Festival in September, and going wherever I can show it next after that.

When you submitted your application, which aspects did you find difficult and how did you work through them? 

The budgeting and figuring out exactly what I wanted to do within the $10,000 limit was the hardest part. I had some help throughout the budgeting process from the then-curator of MAMA, Bianca Acimovic.

I mostly knew what I wanted to do, but then she suggested the physical/online mentorship with Andrew Pearce, instead of purely an online mentorship with another photographer, and it all came together.

Do you have any advice for potential applicants applying to the YRAS program?

Don’t be afraid to try! It’s a scary process and the application may take a long time to do, but if your application does get accepted, it will help you so much!

Make sure you budget correctly, and make sure that you don’t just want to spend money on creating work. This is a professional development grant, so I highly recommend you choose to do things like workshops or mentorships that are related to the type of art you want to create, as they are a great source of professional development.

You’re currently exhibiting at MAMA Albury; can you tell us about your work and how this opportunity came about?

My very first solo exhibition is opening on Thursday the 18th of May and closing on the 16th of June in the Brindley Galleries at MAMA is of my conceptual self-portrait series of photographs called The Chronic Diaries.

The Chronic Diaries is a self-portrait series that chronicles my thoughts, emotions and experiences being a chronically ill child, teenager and now adult. It is quite a dark series of images that covers topics such as chronic pain, depression, anxiety, isolation and a lot of other topics involving chronic illness.

However, there is one ‘positive’ image in there, which gives a little bit of light in between all of the darkness. There will be a total of 20 images in the exhibition.

Last year I applied to show this series through MAMA’s website, and while I was getting help from MAMA’s then-curator Bianca with the budgeting process for the scholarship. I only heard about the YRAS application about 3 days before the applications closed so we were in a bit of a rush. In the process of applying she revealed to me that I had been selected to have my first ever-solo exhibition at MAMA. It was an amazing moment to hear that directly from the curator in person, and not through email!


Tyler’s exhibition The Chronic Diaries is on at MAMA Albury from 18 May to 18 June, to find out more please click here

To find out more about the Young Regional Artist Scholarship Program, please click here

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