Established in 1974, Arts Project Australia is the first full-time art studio in Australia for artists with an intellectual disability.
We have developed a world-class creative program for Australian artists, enabling professional and lasting careers in the arts. We are renowned for our values, philosophy and practice of supporting highly talented, skilled and passionate artists.
The Arts Project Australia studio on High Street Northcote is home to our studio programs and administrative staff. The studio is attended weekly by more than 150 artists.
Arts Project Australia’s gallery has been located at Collingwood Yards since March 2021. Our annual exhibition program feature our artists’ work alongside that of the broader contemporary art community in our gallery, and in national and international galleries.
Our values inform how we deliver the services for which we are funded – with the artist at the centre of everything we do. These values define our interactions with our artists, their loved ones and their advocates.
Image: Artist Cathy Staughton painting in Arts Project Australia’s Northcote studio.
We believe in making a mark that matters.
We believe in art as it should be.
Original. Unapologetic. True.
And joyful in the making.
Fuelled by an unwavering belief in our artists, we are heartened by the creativity and authenticity in our space and by those who delight in sharing it. We believe that art is serious, but making it can be fun.
Individual creativity triumphs over conformity and divergent voices make life much more interesting.
Our experience will always be shared, our knowledge passed on and our studio bound by creativity, integrity and generosity in equal measure.
Since our inception in 1974, we have strived to enable artists to develop an original and authentic “voice” supported by professional staff artists who provide feedback and critical advice. Here, art is not taught, but rather the innate creative direction of each artist is nurtured to elicit works of personal meaning and style.
We are a centre of excellence.
We promote new and exciting work.
We never assume anything about what our artists want or are trying to do. The artists themselves are the only accurate source of knowledge about their aspirations and intentions. Their art speaks for itself and stands on its own terms. Proud. Strong. Unapologetic.
The art that is made by our artists can be confronting, vibrant, beautiful, menacing, honest, haunting and joyful. The art is a result of the freedom our artists have to make their own creative choices.
The agreements that we have with our artists regarding commissions and ownership of work reflect those of other well-run commercial galleries. The work is owned by our artists and they are paid when the work is sold. We aim to guide our artists’ careers and ensure the integrity of their work through good practice.
Our studio is a boisterous hive of creativity, where ideas and imaginings are transformed into visual art. It is an organic, messy, productive place.
For over forty-four years Arts Project Australia has supported the artistic aspirations of artists with an intellectual disability.
Arts Project Australia established by Myra Hilgendorf OAM
Starts producing professionally mounted exhibitions, forming a core part of Arts Project Australia’s original mission.
Image: artist Johanna Hilgendorf (left) with mother and Arts Project founder Myra Hilgendorf OAM
Studio workshop program commences
Located at the Moorakyne stables, Lisson Grove, Hawthorn.
Arts Project Australia becomes an Incorporated Association
Artists exhibit internationally
Exhibitions at MADMuseé and Centre d’Art Differencié, Belgium. Artist Julian Martin selected for the Moët & Chandon Touring Exhibition.
Arts Project Australia Moves
Permanent space secured at 24 High St, Northcote. Home to our current studio.
Arts Project Australia is recognised by the Melbourne Awards for its ‘Contribution to Community’.
Arts Partnership Award
Arts Project Australia and Leonard Joel Auction House receive the award from the Australian Business and Arts Foundation.
International significance recognised
Arts Project Australia’s collection deemed to have international significance by National Gallery of Australia significance assessment.
40 Years of Arts Project Australia
Transformer, Julian Martin’s retrospective exhibition, takes place. Martin among other artists are represented by Fleisher/Ollman in the USA at The Armory Show and Outsider Art Fair (both NY).
Arts Project Australia hosts international Outsider Art Conference in partnership with the University of Melbourne, hosting many prestigious local and international speakers
Three Arts Project artists feature in Melbourne Now at the National Gallery of Victoria, Melbourne and a significant collection of work by Alan Constable and Boris Cipusev is acquired.
Image: Alan Constable, Untitled, 2013
Terry Williams takes New York by storm
Artist Terry Williams has a sell-out solo show at White Columns, New York, curated by Ricky Swallow.
Arts Project Australia receives an ‘Outstanding Organisation’ Award at the HESTA Community Sector Awards, recognising its contribution to the community.
Arts Project Australia presents a pop-up gallery in Collins Place for one month, supported by NKN Gallery and Gandel Philanthropy.
Supported Studio Forum
Arts Project Australia hosts ‘Looking Outside the Box’, a national forum for supported studios across Australia, welcoming over 50 supported studio staff working in the sector.
Partnerships, Upgrades and Awards
Arts Project Australia earns an ‘Excellence in Employment Outcomes Award’ from the Victorian Disability Awards, for its career pathway offerings for artists.
Arts Project Australia won a community partnership with Yarra Trams, which saw an APA tram hit the streets in 2018. Artists Warren O’Brien and Cathy Staughton had their work featured.
Arts Project Australia gets a facelift to increase the organisation’s street-front visibility.
Grants, Traineeship Programs and Touring Shows
Arts Project Australia receives a Jack Brockhoff Foundation Grant to create a selection of artist videos and an organisation video to promote our artists and what we do.
Arts Project Australia launches its first off-site Traineeship Program, where two Arts Project artists participate in a fully paid 12-month traineeship at Leonard Joel Auction House, a long-time supporter of Arts Project. Trainees are supported by Interact Australia, who mentor the artists.
Arts Project Australia partners with curator and artist Catherine Bell, Limb Family Foundation, NETS Victoria and Australia Council for the Arts to tour the group exhibition FEM-aFFINITY nationally. The exhibition features work by Arts Project and invited Australian female artists.
Image: Eden Menta and Janelle Low, Eden and the Gorge, 2019
Arts Project Australia Takes To The Virtual World
It’s the year of COVID-19 and everything changes. On the 16 March, Arts Project Australia closes the studio and one week later the gallery follows, closing until 2021. Arts Project Australia takes to the virtual world.
‘Satellite Art Program’ launched. 150 artists start working from home and many transition to our inaugural online offering virtual studio sessions via Zoom. While government restrictions and social distancing are enforced, 100 work-from-home art packs are delivered to artists to continue to create and stay connected.
Art et al is formed with founding partners, Arts Project Australia, Slominski Projects, and Jennifer Lauren Gallery. This international platform connects artists from supported studios with international peers, arts professionals, and audiences. Art et al.’s global collaborations and partnerships result in commissioned critical writing, exhibitions, and original multi-media content.
In partnership with long-time supporter Leonard Joel, Arts Project Australia present our first-ever online fundraising auction ‘The Day We All Went Home’ with resounding success. With no fees and no buyer’s premium, we raise over $47,000, with 50% going to participating artists and 50% going to Arts Project Australia.
Arts Project Australia receives Arts and Culture Champion for the Melbourne Awards for recognition of our outstanding achievements in 2020.
New Gallery and Major Partnerships
Arts Project Australia relocates the gallery to Collingwood Yards. This expansion brings many new visitors and supporters, while also creating more space in the Northcote Studio for artists to create over two levels.
ACCA and Arts Project Australia collaborate on Who’s Afraid of Public Space? This major exhibition, publication and research project explores the role of public culture, the contested nature of public space, and the character and composition of public life itself. A number of creative collaborative partnerships were formed for the project, each consisting of one APA artist and one established local Melbourne artist.
Benalla Art Gallery partners with Arts Project Australia on ‘Stronger Together’, a revolving exhibition of new work by Arts Project artists presented by Benalla Art Gallery and its onsite café and restaurant Munro and Sargeant. Proceeds from sales help to support the artists’ practices, Arts Project Australia’s studio program, and Benalla Art Gallery’s dynamic program of exhibitions and events.
Gorman partners with Arts Project Australia. Eight Arts Project Australia artists featured in the collaboration with iconic Australian fashion label. Artists whose work was represented included Georgia Szmerling, Rebecca Scibilia, Robin Warren, Julian Martin, Robyn Doherty, Anthony Romagnano, Robert Brown and Fiona Longhurst. Products appeared at Gorman’s 40 stores across Australia and their online store.
A year of wins locally and internationally
In May APA launched APA Creatives, a new annual giving program that shares the magic of our studio and gallery with our community of donors.
Thanks to the support of our community we raised $48,500 funds to cover the cost of a new kiln, ventilation system and weatherproof shed with storage to be installed in 2023.
Arts Project Australia take part in National Gallery of Victoria’s Melbourne Art Book Fair and the Sticky Institute Festival of the Photocopier, Melbourne.
Artists Anthony Romagnano, Alan Constable, Chris O’Brien, Lisa Reid and Paul Hodges exhibit in the world renowned Outsider Art Fair, New York.