Emerging Contemporaries

Emerging Contemporaries artist biographies and statements

Akka Ballenger 


Romanian-born Akka Ballenger Constantin has swapped the beloved mountains of her homeland for the Canberran grasslands. An almost perfect trade – although occasionally, she misses the heights. She explores her surroundings through keen observation, often focusing on the unseen detail, rather than on the obvious scenery.

A multi-disciplinary artist working across various platforms, she loves mixing new and old, traditional and contemporary, digital and analogue. Her practice combines over 20 years’ experience in photography and alternate processes, with other (newly-found) mediums such as drawing, mixed media, printmaking and spoken words. 


"“The Lost Ark” is an opportunity of learning together. This series of drawings, linocuts and etchings brings back the focus on the aftermath of the 2019-2020 bush fires and their impact on our unique Australian fauna.

An interim report, “Australia’s 2019-2020 Bushfires: The Wildlife Toll” commissioned by WWF Australia concluded that more than three billion animals were killed or displaced: 143 million mammals, 2.46 billion reptiles, 180 million birds and 51 million frogs.

I am an art educator, working with young children. Often, I find myself embracing their spontaneity in my own artistic practice and for this body of works I chose the same informal approach, where feeling and playfulness prevail, taking over realistic/ natural illustration detail.

Through these images, I hope to bring into the limelight some of our unique species and I would like to encourage the public not only to learn more about our wildlife, but also to donate their time and to support financially the Wildlife rescue programs."

Mika Benesh


Mika Benesh is an artist / writer / designer working on unceded Gadigal land in Sydney, Australia. 

Their practice traces relationships between cultural institutions, spirituality & theology, archives, queer/trans lives & movements, and white supremacy.

Mika’s interested in facilitating emerging & marginal Jewish ritual practices through Judaica design.

He works in jewellery and object design, graphite, print and book making, photography, and textiles.


Weaving Futures is an ongoing series of Jewish ritual objects designed to facilitate emerging and marginal Jewish ritual practices, particularly those which are queer, feminist and anti-colonial in nature. 

At the first stage of the fabrication process, the hannukiah, spice box, and natla (hand washing cup) are crafted out of woven candle wicks and dipped in molten beeswax. As pictured, in the final fabrication stages the pieces are cast in bronze and then silver-plated.

The objects crafted in Weaving Futures can be used in a variety of different ways, with the project exploring the potential for non-prescriptivist design to catch a small hold of many Jewish futures. 


Millie Black


Millie Black is a painter and textile artist currently living and working on Ngunnawal Country. Her working process involves bush walking and painting in oil and watercolour with organic pigments from the environment she is in. More recently Black has incorporated weaving into her painting practice, experimenting with painted paper that she spins into thread prior to weaving. Black’s work aims to provide a connection to the natural environment and make aware our dependence on and roll in it. Her current practice-led research explores the breath as this connection and the importance of the air in weaving together human and nature.


Grounding Atmospheres tracks the conscious and subconscious marks of the human in nature. In my practice, I explore the dualisms that detach the human from nature brought about by the cultural construct of the ‘Wilderness’ ideal. To dissolve this figure-ground separation that has outlined the tradition of Western landscape painting, I explore the purpose of ground and air in connecting ourselves to the environment by using earth pigments and plant dyes from the landscape I work with. Grounding Atmospheres removes an anthropocentric view of the land and explores the deep layers of the air and the ground by bringing an awareness to our breathing and dependence on nature. This is presented through the unwoven negative space and the supple nature of the cloth and fibres. In this, I hope to promote a greater awareness of the air and the importance of seeing ourselves as part of nature.


Maitlan Brown


Maitlan is an Industrial design undergraduate student from the University of Canberra. Her work centres upon exploring the intersection between traditional modes of making, and emergent manufacturing processes. Her current work focuses on the possibilities of large scale additive manufacturing and its implications for new sustainable product typologies in both form, composition and function.


The Articular chaise is the result of an exploration into the possibilities of sustainable, large-scale 3d Printing.

The work is produced by leveraging 6-axis industrial robot arm fitted with prototype plastic extruder developed in-house at the University of Canberra.

The development of a sustainable outdoor seating concept presents a unique and organic form language. The form is in-part driven by the constraints of this new printing methodology. This printing method enables the sculptural form to not be possible through other processes of manufacturing.

The possibilities of this new printing methodology encourages the use of shredded recycled plastic which can explore and address the contemporary global issue of plastic waste.

Ned Collins


Ned Collins is a recent graduate of Sturt School for Wood. His studies there allowed an exploration of self, of form, and of the traditional methods used in creating furniture. This was achieved by a relentless questioning of why, and by drawing inspiration from many artistic mediums outside of furniture. Collins seeks to further his practice by exploring the intersection between traditional methods and modern design to achieve functional, enduring creations.


What is, what was, what will be

hands deep within the soil, a small child plays.
those building blocks that teach us are naive,
yet they are old and wise
we get older and find new building blocks to play with
but those that are old have never lost their wisdom,
have never stopped teaching us

I have always had a deep reverence for craft. It is something old, something wise, somethin true to utility and true to beauty. It is this such involvement in the crafts, in the making of furniture, that finally gives voice, shape and direction to my artistic expressions. A world that nourishes my body with honest labour, my mind with puzzles and problems, and my soul with a way to let free those creations that exist within me. 


Lea Durie 


Lea Durie is an artist based in Braidwood and Canberra. Lea is currently undertaking a Bachelor of Visual Arts with a ceramics major at the Australian National University School of Art and Design. Lea’s work explores post-colonial land use, its contribution to land degradation and climate change, and is influenced by feminist thinking and perspectives of place. Lea’s background as a landscape architect informs the mark making and conceptual thinking in her work.

Lea’s work is often installation based, using ceramics as the foundation supported by found objects, textiles and other materials.

Lea was the recipient Craft ACT 2020 Emerging Artist’s award at the Canberra Potter’s Members Exhibition and was also the recipient of the ANU Boronia Award for academic excellence in ceramics in 2018.


When the River Runs Dry is a response to road trip to Broken Hill in 2019, through drought ravaged country, crossing once mighty rivers now pools of muddy water, along highways lined by cotton caught in the weeds by the roadside. It takes its name from community-based activism in Wilcannia in 2016 which sought to bring attention to the poor state of the Barka (Darling River) caused by both drought and water usage for large scale agriculture such as cotton farming.

The work is an intersection of materials connected to this western NSW landscape. It has a quietness and detail that creates a space inviting the viewer to pause and ponder what has become of our Murray-Darling river system in this time of climate change. It questions the way that land is occupied and used in colonial and contemporary times.


Annalise Fredericks 


Annalise Fredericks is a multimedia visual artist and aspiring costume and concept designer.

Having graduated from the ANU School of Art and Design with a Bachelor of Visual Arts, Annalise works across a variety of different mediums, ranging from painting and printmaking, to sculpture and textile work. Her work tends towards exploring and experimenting with materiality and texture, often leaning towards themes of fantasy, stories, history, and the surreal. A key aim with her work is pushing the limitations of and subverting the expectations of the viewer through materials.


Presented as a vintage knitwear catalogue, Maille Order combines our current need for personal protection and how we might consider what we wear as armour, with kitsch styling. The ‘knitting’ of armoured face masks, an apron and jumper, conflates women’s work and the masculine associations of chain maille. Asking questions about how function and value can be subverted through material associations and tongue-in-cheek tropes. 

The viewer is invited to leaf through this fashion pamphlet and to indulge in the product's absurd futility.


Daniel Leone 


Daniel Leone is a multidisciplinary emerging artist from the Canberra region. Daniel’s ceramic work is handbuilt, using a system of concentric coils which are pinched into the desired form. Daniel graduated from Sturt School for Wood in 2019 and continues to work in a variety of media, creating a range of functional, abstract and wearable objects.


 At 16 years old, 11 years ago, I bought a teeshirt from a local Canberra based artist Luke Chiswell from which this sculpture is inspired from. Luke has been a massive inspiration for myself, not just aesthetically but also practice and career wise. The sculpture came about as a means to display the original teeshirt whilst mirroring and playing with the logo. Scale plays an important role in this piece giving it presence as we might another human. I find it fun to imagine such a creature walking around. The message is simple and deserves to be set in stone (rather stoneware). Keep your head up.


Christine Little 


I'm interested in painting, drawing and printmaking.  My subject matter tends to be landscapes both natural and urban.  My work is small scale, A3 or smaller.

I explore the contrast between natural and man-made landscapes, there interconnection and disconnection.  My landscapes are without people making a statement about isolation.

I'm currently working on drawings and intaglio prints based on local suburban landscapes and buildings in an abstracted manner.

Currently I am studying Visual Arts at CIT, Reid Canberra.


I work in painting, drawing and printmaking using landscapes, both natural and urban, to explore the physical spaces we inhabit, isolation and human connection to the environment and lack thereof.  I explore the interaction and contrast between natural and man-made landscapes. 

As a starting point for this work, I took photographs of a local shopping centre and of a sports ground. I have reinterpreted these suburban spaces with abstraction and with the use of light and dark tones.

David Liu 


David is a Cabrera-based artist, designer and furniture maker. He uses geometric shapes and perspective views in his furniture practice and highlights his work with optical illusion. Audiences are invited to look at and interpret his works from different angles. David understands and expresses the beauty of a complex world with simplified forms. For instance, he abstracted the shapes of a curly leaf and designed the Leaf Table. David holds a Bachelor of Design degree from ANU School of Art and Design, is the 2021 furniture workshop associate in JamFactory, Adelaide.


I never thought I would like making wooden furniture. But from the moment I touched the fresh timber out of the thicknesser, I realised that it is the thing I endeavour for the rest of my life. I love traditional tools and using them to make hand-crafted joineries. It helped me to understand the timber better. My practice focuses on the geometric forms and perspective view of the object, which I hope to invite people to contemplate my works and rethink it from a distinct angle.

Denni Maroudas 


Denni Maroudas graduated from Sturt School for Wood in 2020, where he was awarded the Studio Woodworkers Australia Award. During which he took a particular interest in sculptural work. The limitless curves and intersecting lines made my brain wonder with creativity. Denni spent some time on the 'artier' side of woodworking, carving and shaping abstract pieces. he found himself heavily inspired by an Irish designer/maker named Joseph Walsh, who creates amazing abstract sculptures and pieces of furniture. 

Currently working out of Mittagong at Sturt School for Wood’s resident workshop has allowed Denni to play freely. At Sturt he discovered his love for all materials, not just wood. In the future, he hopes to work with many more mediums to create art in his own way. Denni has a real love for hand shaping, experiencing the satisfying 'swoosh' under his fingers while he is using a tool feels like home.


I have always had a deep fascination with art, shape, form, the way things are made and the reason why. 

 There is a burning desire in me to make and design. Creating objects - functional or not - brings me a great sense of purpose and fulfilment, that nothing else compares to. 

I can’t wait to continue creating for the rest of my life.

Olinda Narayanan


Olinda is an emerging artist working with furniture, textiles and sculptural installation. She employs a combination of traditional hand making skills and digital technologies. Her art practice explores architectural influences on human relationships and well-being. Olinda is currently completing her Bachelor of Visual Arts (ANU) and will follow this with a 6month residency at ANU Makerspace.

Olinda has exhibited in group exhibitions, namely Amplified/Together (2020), Haig Park Student takeover (2020) and Crafted (2019, 2018, 2017). Olinda’s work “Spatial Connections” (2020) won a number of prizes which have resulted in the work being exhibited in group exhibitions with CraftACT and Canberra Spinners and Weavers. Additionally, Olinda will present a solo show with Tributary Projects and participate in a residency with ANU Makerspace in 2021.


Drifting In One Place explores boundary making through weaving. The mutual dependency of soft indigo dyed thread and structural supports creates an architectural tension. Which ultimately seeks to create new opportunities for people to interact with each other and with the built environment. This tension can be engaged with at a human scale, encouraging reflection on the coexisting boundaries and connections both in our interpersonal relationships and in space. This piece is part of an ongoing body of work exploring relationships, scale and surroundings called “Spatial Connections”.


Bling Yiu


Canberra based ceramics artist, Wai Ling Yiu (Bling), was born and grew up
in Hong Kong. Her diverse design and creative background ranges from
working as a fashion designer in Hong Kong to being the head illustrator for
nationally published children’s books in Australia.

Bling encountered ceramics in early 2018 through the Canberra Potters’
Society. Her passion for the medium continues to develop with time and
experimentation. The collection of works she creates is known by the makers
mark of ‘WeAreMade’. Her work has been selected to be a part of numerous
exhibitions nation wide. These include the Australian Ceramics Triennale
showcase exhibition in Hobart (2019) and Belco Arts – LIQUID (2020), a
survey exhibition of glass and ceramic artists.

Her work explores ideas relating to human characteristics and their ability to
convey meaning and emotion. Through all of her ‘little men’ she sends the
message that “we are made to be with others, and we are created to flourish
in the purpose of life.” Therefore, many of the pieces of her work do not exist
in isolation, but are coupled as pairs or exist as small groups.


“We.R.Made” collection sends a simple message - We are made. To remind all of us that we are wonderfully and joyfully made. The works seek to explore the beauty of the human being and the manner in which these characteristics convey life and persona.

Many of the pieces do not exist in isolation, but are rather coupled as pairs or exist as small groups. It relates to ideas of companionship and the manner in which humans are a social species, not meaning to be alone. We are made to be with others, made to flourish in the purpose of life.

Embedded within the work is a sense of optimism and joy, hoping to share a positivity with those who engage with it. All of the ‘little men’ are filled with happiness and gratitude.

Jonathon Zalkos


Jonathon Zalakos is an art jewellery and object maker based in Canberra. He is graduating Design (Jewellery and Object Workshop) and Business Administration at the Australian National University. Jonathon seeks to integrate conventional goldsmithing techniques, rapid prototyping and digital media into a practice that can be consumed in very different contexts. Work produced comes in the form of wearable jewellery made from precious metals and plastics, interactive objects and digital media published online.

 Jonathon’s work revolves around meaning and how significance is created through both expression and perception. This drives exploration into the language of cultural phenomena including contemporary pop jewellery culture, online viral media and the interfaces between the human body and the manufactured world.


The monist says that my experiences and my sense of consciousness are a result of chemical and electrical activity in my brain and my body. The dualist says that there is something beyond the physical that explains my consciousness: the soul.

The experience that I have inhabiting the world can also modelled through three dimensions:
My behavioural performance, which is measurable and can be perceived by others.
My conscious performance which includes the thoughts I process in making decisions. I can communicate these, but they can never truly be understood outside of my own head.
Finally, there is the affective performance which are subconscious and contextual factors that influence decision making that I am not in control of, let alone aware of.

Maintaining these multiple constructions of myself and more in my head at the same time has not helped me come to peace with my existence. Instead, these models overlap and conflict. There is a resulting dissonance around the fundamental experience of my existence that I cannot subdue.

I am creating a body of work that externalises this state of mind through the material qualities of resources I have on hand. Where thoughts and behaviour are ethereal and ephemeral, the unexpected, incidental and uncomposed behaviour of plastics, cords and metals were employed.

To represent conscious thought, architectural steel forms emerge. These elements are then tied in with the technical conventions of jewellery making extending brooch pins and supporting armature. These elements reflect a behavioural dimension of existence and when composed with other elements, they all work together to create a complex relationship between the parts, processes and wearing that is rich for exploration and evaluation.

Engage with the work by relating every distinct thing that you perceive as a thought or process innate to your performance as a human being. Chase that thought as it interacts with surrounding elements. Through this exercise there is an opportunity to experience mental interactions through a medium that can be perceived by the senses while remaining intrinsically linked to the body.