The ABC has selected five of Australia’s dynamic early-career research talent for its 2022 TOP 5 Arts Media Residency. This year, Dr Sanné Mestrom, an award-winning sculptor and senior lecturer in visual arts, and Dr Mahesh White-Radhakrishnan, a musician and linguist, have been chosen to take part in an intensive and hands-on two weeks “in residence” at ABC Radio National in Melbourne, working with some of Australia’s best journalists and broadcasters.
It’s a unique opportunity for culture makers to go behind-the-scenes with the ABC’s expert communicators, burnishing the skills of these future leaders and role models so that their important work can be celebrated by Australians everywhere.
Based in the Sydney College of the Arts, Dr Mestrom’s sculptural practice addresses “the female body” in various cultural contexts: philosophically, autobiographically, as well as in the context of art historical and political concerns.
Her research examines conflicting assumptions, expectations, and perceptions of maternity in cultural, artistic, academic and institutional contexts. “Feminist motherhood is a surprisingly little-explored subject. Feminism and motherhood continue to be thought of as incompatible, acutely so in the context of contemporary art,” Dr Mestrom said.
“I’ll be using my time at the ABC to develop skills to make a six-part podcast about the decisions all women face around motherhood and how much choosing to be a mother will have an impact on their career,” said Dr Mestrom. “It will have a specific focus on women who work in the arts and the choices they make around mothering and creativity, parenting and independence, and economics and art.”
Dr Mestrom hopes to engage the voices of other female academics and artists in the podcast. She is looking to interview women in the arts who have and have not chosen motherhood and academics who might have research insights into feminist motherhood, or what she frames as the tension between motherhood vs otherhood in the academic and creative professions.
Dr Mahesh White-Radhakrishnan is a musician and linguist at the Conservatorium of Music. His research explores circulations of music and dance in the Indian Ocean with a focus on Sri Lanka.
“I’m extremely grateful for this opportunity and thank all my family, friends, community collaborators, mentors, colleagues and fellow artists at the Sydney Conservatorium of Music and beyond for their immeasurable support and gifts of knowledge,” said Dr White-Radhakrishnan.
“This residency will hone my skills as a researcher and creative artist. It will also help to spread a little-known story of intercultural connections across the vast Indian Ocean through music and dance which is my current research interest.
This research matters because it shows how art shapes history and human society in unforeseeable ways with echoes for a long time. The story that it tells connects many migrant communities together through common points of reference, something sorely needed in an increasingly divided world.”
Vice-Chancellor and President, Professor Mark Scott said the University is proud to play a leading role in educating and informing the community.
“Media work is highly valued at the University because we are committed to shaping cultural debate and sharing our knowledge with the wider community. This is a great opportunity for our arts researchers to develop their expert voices in the media and we thank the ABC for sharing their experience with our community.”
Cath Dwyer, Manager of ABC Radio National, says the TOP 5 Arts puts us directly in touch with what’s taking place in our cultural industries. “RN has always covered arts and culture, so we are pleased to bring into the network an extraordinary group that will enrich our coverage and connections.”
Rhiannon Brown, Executive Producer of Arts at Radio National was one of the judges and oversees the TOP 5 Arts. “The pandemic has hit the arts sector particularly hard, so it’s gratifying to have such a high standard of applicants, who are passionate about wanting to use the media to reach a broader audience for their important work and ideas. We are looking forward to bringing them to the ABC and working with them of some exciting projects.”