Bianca Hester is an artist, writer and educator who specialises in critical place-based practice through artistic research. Her work focuses on the environmental aesthetics of a settler-colonial Anthropocene to investigate entanglements between colonial inheritance, extraction, environmental crisis, evolution and extinction evident within specific locations across Australia. Employing relational feminist methodologies, she combines experimental fieldwork, engaging the geologic record (in archives and in situ), embodied site-writing, sculptural production, collaboration and performed actions to develop artistic projects that unpack the material conditions of specific locations across the continent, resulting in an expansive form of public art unfolding in dialogue with a range of interlocutors and participants.
Bianca has exhibited widely within Australia and internationally. Recent works include: Dust of these domains, SITEWORKS, Bundanon (2023); Reading Walking Lithic Bodies, Museum of Contemporary Art (2022), Constellating bodies in temporary correspondence (2015-2016; 2021) exhibited within ‘Perspectives on Place: Works from the MCA Collection relating to land, mapping and environmental change’, Museum of Contemporary Art (2021-2023); movements materialising momentarily, ST PAUL St Gallery, Auckland (2015); Down City Streets (with the Space Place and Country research group 2015); Fashioning Discontinuities presented during the 19th Biennale of Sydney (2014); Hoops: sound tests, performances, documents, Melbourne Now, National Gallery of Victoria, Melbourne (2013); only from the perspective of a viewer situated upon the surface of the earth does day and night occur, Glasgow International Festival for Visual Arts, (2012); a world fully accessible by no living being, which was the winning entry for the Melbourne Prize for Urban Sculpture (2011); please leave these windows open overnight to enable the fans to draw in cool air during the early hours of the morning, The Helen MacPherson Solo Commission at The Australian Centre for Contemporary Art (2010); and projectprojects at The Showroom in London (2008). She is currently developing new research titled Lithic Bodies, funded by Australia Council for the Arts individual project Grant) Project code: RG220506
Alongside exhibitions, Hester has developed numerous practice-led publications including: Sandstone, Lost Rocks, A Published Event (2020) and Converging in time, with Open Spatial Workshop, Monash University Museum of Art, Melbourne (2017) which was awarded the Museums Australia Publication Design Awards for major exhibition catalogue, 2018 and the AAANZ Best University Art Catalogue, 2018.Her recent book Groundwork (2021) is published through Perimeter Editions (#069).
Hester studied sculpture at RMIT, Melbourne, where she completed her practice-led PhD titled Material Adventures, Spatial Productions: Manoeuvring Sculpture Towards a Proliferating Event, in 2007 which won a University research prize in 2008. She was a founding member of CLUBSpropject inc in Melbourne (2002-2007) and is a continuing member of the Open Spatial Workshop collective with Scott Mitchell and Terri Bird since 2003. Hester has lectured at Victorian College of the Arts (2004-2012) and the Sydney College of the Arts (2016), where she was a post-doctoral research fellow and the co-leader of the Space, Place and Country research cluster with Dr Saskia Beudel between 2013-2016. She is a Sidney Myer Creative Fellow (2017-2018) and was an Artspace studio resident throughout 2017.
Hester is currently Associate Professor in Art and Design and is the Co-Director for Research and Engagement with Oliver Bown, an Associate Investigator for the ARC Centre of Excellence for Australian Biodiversity and Heritage (CABAH), and on the Editorial Committee for the Australian and New Zealand Journal of Art (AANZJA).
She convenes Studio Art Practice 5. She has experience teaching across all levels in undergraduate programs and in supervising practice-led Honours, MFA and PhD projects since 2004.
Open Spatial Workshop website: https://osw.com.au
Down City Streets: www.downcitystreets.com.au
2023 Australia Council for the Arts, Visual Arts Section, Arts projects for Individuals and Groups, to develop Lithic Bodies
2020 Australia Council for the Arts, Visual Arts Section, Arts projects for Individuals and Groups to develop New Work (with Open Spatial Workshop)
2017-18 Sidney Myer Creative Fellowship
2016 Australia Council for the Arts, Visual Arts Section, Arts projects for Individuals and Groups to develop New Work (with Open Spatial Workshop)
2015 Australia Council for the Arts, Visual Arts Section, Arts projects for Individuals and Groups to develop a publication
2014 Australia Council for the Arts, Visual Arts Section, Skills and Arts Development General to develop a research project in Auckland
2014 NSW Arts and Cultural Development Program, Artist Support Grant
2013 DVC Research Compacts Postdoctoral Research Fellowship Scheme (3 year full-time fellowship including research support)
2013 New Work Fellowship, Australia Council for Visual Arts
2013 New Work Fellowship (with Open Spatial Workshop) Australia Council for Visual Arts
2011 Australia Council for the Arts, Visual Arts Section, Skills and Arts Development
2010 Helen Macpherson Smith Commission, Australian Centre for Contemporary Art
2009 City of Melbourne grant to develop a publication of PhD research
2009 Arts Victoria, New Work, Presentation grant (with Open Spatial Workshop for the West Brunswick Sculpture Triennial
2006 Australia Council Visual Arts Board, Skills and Development grant
2006 Arts Victoria, International Program, Cultural Exchange
2006 Australia Council Artist Initiatives development grant for CLUBSproject Inc
2004 Arts Victoria new work development award
2001 APA (Australian Postgraduate Award) to undertake doctoral research
2018 Museums Australia Publication Design Award (MAPDA) for major exhibition catalogue, for Converging in time (with Open Spatial Workshop)
2018 AAANZ Best University Art Catalogue, for Converging in time (with Open Spatial Workshop)
2016 Sidney Myer Creative Fellowship (over 2017-2018)
2011 Winner of The Melbourne Prize for Urban Sculpture
2008 RMIT University Research Prize for outstanding PhD project
2006 Sieman’s prize, RMIT
2005 Winner of The Melbourne Prize for Urban Sculpture (with Open Spatial Workshop)
My Research Supervision
Caitlin Dubler. Research Area: Glass as a multivalent site of geological and social inheritances. Supervised jointly with Dr Zoe Veness.
Monika Citanovic. Research Area: Crafting time to care: sloppy stitching as a method of reclamation of the embodied history of women's craft-based knowledge wihtin a regenerative textile practice. Supervised jointly with Dr Rochelle Hayley and Associate Professor Alison Gwilt.
Mason Kimber. Research area: Surface Archeology: memory and matter in expanded painting. Supervised jointly with Professor Stephen Loo.
Miska Mandic. Research area: Pleating Time: Reframing relationships to ecological crisis by cinematically exposing the temporally distributed relations between everyday materials. Supervised jointly with Dr Astrid Lorange.
Aneshka Mora. Worlding Otherwise: The use of Institutions as Medium and Method for Decolonisation in Contemporary Art Practices in and from 'Australia'. Secondary supervisor with Veronica Tello.
Emma Pinset. Research Area: Porous matter: re-worlding fouled materials of the intertidal zone through sculptural practice. Supervised jointly with Dr David Eastwood
Nick Breedon. Research area: Towards a neuroqueer aesthetic: queering heritage art forms. Primary supervisor.
Patrick McDavitt. Research area: Sculptural artistic practice drawing from archaeological methodologies to explore queerness as a process of excavation. Primary Supervisor.
Jo Mellor Stuart. Research area: Care and comfort in the era of solastalgia: Utilising a socially-engaged art practice to craft collaborative eco-feminist activism in The Darling River and Menindee Lakes System. Jointly supervised with Dr Fabri Blacklock.
Melody Newell. Research area: 'Kitsch Sights' investigates the aesthetic category of kitsch through poetry and a collaborative audio-visual performance. Secondary Supervisor (Astrid Lorange as Primary Supervisor).
Previous Candidates (completed):
Cindy Chen, The Convergence of Aural and Optical Perception in the Experience of Place: How attentive listening through an experimental drawing practice can extend and challenge place representation, UNSW, PhD Jointly supervised with Dr Uros Cvoro.
Kenzee Patterson, A tree branches, so does a river, SCA, University of Sydney, MFA, 2018. (Primary supervisor)
Therese Keogh, Re-building histories (and some things that happened down a well), SCA, University of Sydney, MFA, 2018. (Primary supervisor)
Chris Fox, Performative drawing apparatus: Relations of constraint and abandon, SCA, University of Sydney, MFA, 2017. (Primary supervisor)
Sarah Crow-Est, An unaccountable mass: bothersome matter and the humorous life of forms, VCA, University of Melbourne, PhD, 2012. Jointly supervised with Dr Barbara Bolt.
Akira Tamura, Embodied Practice, experience and intuition, VCA, University of Melbourne, MFA, 2012. (Primary supervisor)
Charlie Sofo, Pebbles, shattered glass, plastic, metal and dried grass: a research project on ritual action, experience and the everyday, VCA, University of Melbourne, MFA, 2012. (Primary supervisor)
Beth Arnold, Approaching Site, VCA, University of Melbourne, MFA, 2012. (Winner of the Sutton Gallery Prize). (Primary supervisor)
Dorothea Rechner, Detours along the spectrum of visibility: embodying views through three apparatuses: imaging, experimenting, re-presenting, VCA, University of Melbourne, MFA, 2012. (Primary supervisor)
Utako Shindo, Immanent landscape, VCA, University of Melbourne, MFA, 2012. (Primary supervisor)
Bree Dalton, MFA, The semper eadem: salting flesh shoreline project, VCA, University of Melbourne, MFA, 2012. (Primary supervisor)
I currently convene the following courses:
Fine Art Honours