Monash Prato Artist In Residency 2022: Hayley Millar Baker

Hayley Millar-Baker has been waiting a long time to travel to Italy. Despite receiving a placement in the 2020 Monash Prato Centre artist-in-residence program, the Gunditjmara artist’s plans were diverted by lockdowns and a new baby. Now she’s preparing to depart with her partner and two children, for an overseas experience that she sees as marking the closing of the first and opening of the second chapter in her creative practice.

Millar-Baker’s work is all about storytelling culture, and connection to space, place and spirituality for women in the 21st century. She has a strong personal connection with Italy - some of the family photographs she has used in her own work were actually shot there.

“Going into this residency, I’m starting the research and concept development of a new body of work. It’s photographic collage but playing around with materials and researching different modes of photography and collage. This really is the next progression in my photographic practice,” she said.

However she emphasises her pursuit of the universal experience when exploring her own identity, experiences and stories.

“The foundation is based on my identity and my experiences but from there - going to Europe is going to better situate how I can translate that narrative to a universal audience. I am an Indigenous person but I’m also the granddaughter of immigrants. My work is for all women and all people. I want it to translate, no matter who I’m talking to and what language they speak. So I think that’s going to be the most important thing about this - really setting my voice and making it properly universal.”

“I was previously focused on archive material, but the pandemic has got me thinking about who is telling the stories of now? This is also an incredibly important time and I want to see contemporary women telling their own stories in art. What’s happening in my lifetime? I want to look at the continuation of Indigenous practices now, not just historical” Millar-Baker explained.

She also plans to spend time at the Biennalle and leave some opportunities to follow other creative possibilities. She returns home in November and moves straight into filming for her next commision and a scheduled exhibition at Vivian Anderson Gallery in 2023.

Located in the heart of Tuscany, Italy, the Prato Centre is the European base for Monash University, and facilitates a variety of education programs and research collaborations. For Australian artists, the residency program is an opportunity to sustain and deepen their practice and research, free from the distractions and duties of daily life.

Hayley will be the twelfth artist to take up residence, following a number of high-profile Australian artists, including Jon Campbell, Maree Clarke, Laresa Kosloff, and David Rosetzky.

The 2023 round of applications is now open

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