4A Emerging Writer’s Program – 2017

4A is pleased to announce that the 4A Emerging Writer’s Program 2017 program recipient is Mitana Arbon, current Honours student in Asian Studies at ANU. Mitiana will be travelling to Samoa in late 2017 to undertake research and build engagement with local artistic communities in Upolu and Savai’i.

Mitiana Arbon is an Honours student at the School of Culture, History, and Language at the Australian National University. His research thesis examines how institutions curate and articulate an understanding of the Pacific as a cohesive art region through art. It draws upon a case study of the Pacific Collection at the National Gallery of Australia examining how its narrow curatorial focus on ‘traditional’ art pieces as reflective of Pacific Cultures, has limited a broader creative and aesthetic understanding of the current reality of multi-sited and diverse contemporary community practices.

Mitiana has a wide range of creative and personal interests in the Pacific region that stems from his dual academic engagement with the Pacific and his Samoan family, from the village of Tafua tai, Savai’i. He is also a Research Officer on Labour Mobility and Migration at the Development Policy Centre and an avid blogger on Pacific topics. His research interests include contemporary regional issues of development, politics, social change and heritage management.

4A Program Manager and Editor of the 4A Papers, Pedro de Almeida says,

“In its second year, 4A’s Emerging Writer’s Program attracted applicants from New South Wales, Victoria, South Australia and the Australian Capital Territory. This year the Program was offered to emerging writers who are also current tertiary students at honours and postgraduate level. Additionally, in 2017 4A decided to put a focus on facilitating writers’ engagement with Pacific nations, cultures and artists. Applicants came from a variety of research areas including arts, art history, curatorial studies and Asian studies. 4A was impressed that the majority of the applicants had demonstrated a keen interest in and knowledge of the region, proposing fieldwork in Hawai’i, Samoa, Tuvalu and Vanuatu with subjects ranging from the development of private collections and museums to the visual culture that emanates from Vanuatu’s reggae music scene.”

2017 Emerging Writer’s Program judge Lisa McDonald (Associate Curator, Human History (Maori and Pacific) at Canterbury Museum and Adjunct Fellow with the School of Anthropology and Sociology at the University of Canterbury) said:

“Mitiana’s project reflects his deep commitment to the field of Pacific studies. His proposal was of the highest merit and clearly demonstrated his academic engagement with current research methodologies. Privileging the agency of indigenous artists based in Samoa, his project will no doubt provide insightful analysis of the creative practices of contemporary makers. I congratulate Mitiana on his award and wish him every future success in both his professional and personal pursuits.”

Art Monthly Australasia Editor and 2017 Emerging Writer’s Program judge, Micheal Fitzgerald, said:

Art Monthly Australasia is excited to be involved again with the 4A Emerging Writer’s Program, inaugurated last year with the ‘Sea Pearl White Cloud’ project in Guangzhou, and commends this year’s initiative in sending an emerging writer into the Pacific. Mitiana’s winning submission to conduct research with a number of contemporary artists based in Samoa was a stand-out proposal and promises to deepen this important new engagement with the region.”

About the judging panel:

Michael Fitzgerald was the arts editor for the South Pacific edition of Time magazine (1997-2007) before becoming managing editor of Art & Australia (2008-12) and helping relaunch Photofile magazine for the Australian Centre for Photography in 2013. He has been editor of Art Monthly Australasia since 2014.

Dr Lisa McDonald is Associate Curator, Human History (Maori and Pacific) at Canterbury Museum and Adjunct Fellow with the School of Anthropology and Sociology at the University of Canterbury. Her research focuses on contemporary art from Melanesia, with emphasis on makers based in Port Vila and Port Moresby.

Pedro de Almeida is an arts manager, curator and writer, joining 4A as Program Manager in 2012. Over the past decade he has developed and delivered a broad range of artistic and cultural projects in partnership with local and international organisations that have been distinguished by their engagement with culturally and socially diverse artists, communities and audiences.


DEADLINE:                Friday 30 June 2017

TRAVEL DATES:       September 2017   


Following the inaugural offering in 2016, 4A Centre for Contemporary Asian Art is pleased to announce the 4A Emerging Writer’s Program that will support an emerging Australian writer to travel to the Pacific in September 2017 to realise two publication outcomes.

The 4A Emerging Writer’s Program is open to Australian students currently undertaking a degree at honours or postgraduate level in art, history or related fields of study at an Australian tertiary institution. This program will be rigorous and is specifically designed for tertiary students with a keen interest in fieldwork research in art and culture, and someone who can demonstrate a flair and passion for writing.

The selected writer will undertake a one-week research trip to a Pacific nation in September 2017. Facilitated by 4A and its networks, the writer will be asked to conceive and deliver two writing outcomes for publication in 4A Papers and Program supporter Art Monthly Australasia. This may include a critical essay, historical research, interview, review, profile, or feature with accompanying online audio-visual content.

The writer will be supported by the team at 4A and in particular by Pedro de Almeida, Editor, 4A Papers and Michael Fitzgerald, Editor, Art Monthly Australasia.

The 4A Emerging Writer’s Program has been developed as part of 4A Centre for Contemporary Asian Art’s broader professional development program for early career arts professionals. Together with the annual 4A Beijing Studio Program and the biannual 4A Curators’ Intensive, the 4A Emerging Writer’s Program supports emerging Australian talent to work within the Asia-Pacific region.


The 4A Emerging Writer’s Program has been made possible with the support of 4A Patrons Richard Funston & Kiong Lee.



Applications open:                   Monday 3 April 2017

Sydney Info Night:                  Friday 26 May 2017 – RSVP here.

Applications close:                  Friday 30 June 2017 (5.00pm)

Samoa travel dates:                September 2017

(exact dates of one-week itinerary to be determined in consultation with 4A).



The selected writer must be:

  • Over the age of 18 years.
  • An Australian citizen or permanent resident who is enrolled in a degree at honours or postgraduate level in art, history or related fields of study at an Australian tertiary institution at the time of application.
  • The definition of “emerging” is a writer who has not previously published more than 12 texts in any subject, in print or online (blogs or self-published platforms excluded).

4A will provide the selected writer with:

  • Return airfare from the recipient’s nearest state capital city to chosen Pacific nation.
  • Accommodation, per diems and travel insurance for the period of the trip.
  • An honourarium.

To apply, submit a single PDF document including:

  • A Cover Page with your name, address, phone number, email address and evidence of current tertiary enrolment (student ID card or similar).
  • A Letter of Intent addressing your interest in participating in the Program, articulating your specific area of interest in the Pacific and which nation you propose to travel to; how it will be beneficial to you; and how it will contribute to the development of your research and writing practice. Maximum one page.
  • A Statement that outlines your current writing or research focuses and interests. Maximum one page.
  • A CV illustrating relevant study and work experience, previously published texts, personal projects and achievements. Maximum one page.
  • A Writing Sample of up to 1,000 words (this can be unpublished and preferably in a professional writing style rather than academic in tone).
  • A Proposed Collection of Writings that you would produce as part of this project. Maximum one page.
  • Shortlisted writers will be asked to provide evidence of Australian permanent residency status, current enrolment at honours or postgraduate level at an Australian tertiary institution, and date of birth.


Applications should be submitted via email, post or in person to:

Pedro de Almeida

Program Manager / Editor, 4A Papers

4A Centre for Contemporary Asian Art


In person: 181-187 Hay Street, Haymarket, NSW 2000

Post: PO Box K1312, Haymarket NSW 1240

Email: pedro.de-almeida@4a.com.au


Applications closed 5.00PM Friday 30 June 2017.

Applications were assessed by a panel and the selected writer notified within two weeks following the submission deadline.


If you have any questions in relation to the program or how to apply please contact Pedro de Almeida on (02) 9212 0380 or pedro.de-almeida@4a.com.au


The 4A Emerging Writer’s Program is supported by Art Monthly Australasia, and made possible with the generous support of 4A Patrons Richard Funston & Kiong Lee.



Image: Observation Society from the street during the install of Sea Pearl White Cloud, part of the 2016 4A Emerging Writers Program, May 2016. Photo: Pedro de Almeida.

Over two weeks spanning late May and early June 2016, Minerva Inwald, 4A’s 2016 Emerging Writers Program participant, traveled to Guangzhou, China, to experience the lead up to Sea Pearl White Cloud 海珠白雲, a collaborative two-stage exhibition project produced by 4A Centre for Contemporary Asian Art and local independent contemporary art space, Observation Society, that saw presentations in Guangzhou and Sydney. Sea Pearl White Cloud presented new works by Australian artist Lucas Ihlein and Hong Kong-based artist Trevor Yeung that are informed by questions of temporality, exchange and poetics while reflecting on the urban condition in the twenty-first century. Read her piece for the 4A Papers here.




4A Centre for Contemporary Asian Art is pleased to announce Minerva Inwald as the recipient of the inaugural 4A Emerging Writer’s Project.

Ahead of the November 2016 launch of the online publication The 4A Papers, 4A Centre for Contemporary Asian Art is supporting an Australian emerging writer to participate in Sea Pearl White Cloud, a collaborative two-stage exhibition project between 4A and independent Guangzhou contemporary art space Observation Society that will open on 2 June 2016.

Selected by a panel comprising Michael Fitzgerald, Editor, Art Monthly Australasia; Luise Guest, Director of Education and Research, White Rabbit Collection; and Pedro de Almeida, 4A Program Manager and Editor of The 4A Papers, Minerva will be an integral part of 4A’s project team, travelling to Guangzhou to undertake fieldwork as Observation Society’s exhibition unfolds, and later the exhibition in Sydney at 4A. Her research will see the publication of two critical texts that document the development, realisation and reception of the exhibitions, along with interviews with the artists and ongoing online content.

Pedro de Almeida says, “4A’s inaugural Emerging Writer’s Project attracted application from writers from New South Wales, Queensland, Victoria and South Australia. The range of educational, professional and artistic backgrounds from the applicants was also diverse with, for example, some writers having arts journalism experience, while others forging more experimental writing forms through artist-run platforms. 4A looks forward to offering more professional development and publishing opportunities for writers as we establish The 4A Papers later this year.”

Michael Fitzgerald says, “Minerva’s submission was outstanding. Her ongoing historical research in China as a PhD candidate at the University of Sydney, and her broader interest in how art objects circulate in the public and private spheres places her as a perfect candidate to contribute meaningfully and intelligently to this unique cross-cultural project.”

Luise Guest remarks, “Minerva’s application was outstanding in a range of ways. Firstly, her recognition that she aims to broaden her critical writing style beyond the constraints of academic writing was refreshing. Her background in carrying out art historical research on the ground in China, at the National Art Museum of China (NAMOC), using primary sources, and dealing with the complexities of dealing with a Chinese institution, will clearly be an advantage in quickly assessing the possibilities on the ground in Guangzhou. Her obvious level of fluency in Chinese (Mandarin) will also be an asset to the project. Minerva’s current doctoral research is both interesting and relevant, relating to curatorial practices, museology and the circulation of objects and artefacts. I particularly liked her thoughtful (and highly topical) plan for an extended contemplative essay reflecting on the notion of ‘southern-ness’, and how that plays out in the relationship between the sister cities of Sydney and Guangzhou. Her sample of writing – an extract from a conference paper – indicated her clarity of thought and expression, and her willingness to push against the conventional boundaries of a discipline (in this instance, historical research) indicating the potential for some innovative texts and other modes of communication emerging from the collaboration in Guangzhou.”

Sea Pearl White Cloud is supported by the City of Sydney with the Observation Society exhibition opening being part of the official program of the City of Sydney and Guangzhou Municipal Government’s civic celebrations as part the 30th anniversary of their sister-city relationship. Additionally, the Emerging Writer’s Project is supported by Art Monthly Australasia.

Minerva Inwald is a current PhD candidate in the Department of History, University of Sydney, whose research focuses on the history of the National Art Museum of China (NAMOC) between 1958 and 1989. Using Chinese-language primary sources to examine how exhibitions at this prestigious space were used to communicate ideas about the role of art in China in relation to conceptions of ‘the people,’ her research seeks to investigate broader questions of how art objects circulate in museum contexts, as well as outside museums such as in domestic, work and public spheres. Minerva graduated with Bachelor of Arts (Languages) Honours degree from the University of Sydney in 2012, and in the same year was awarded the Francis Stuart Prize for Asian Art History form the Department of Art History. She has contributed a number of papers at academic conferences in Sydney, Melbourne and Brisbane, and recently undertook an 8-month postgraduate exchange program at Beijing’s Central Academy of Fine Arts.