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Damon Kowarsky, winner 2008

Damon has now finished his travels as part of the Toyota Community Spirit Artist Travel Award. In five months Damon visited cities including Singapore, Cairo, Barcelona, New York and San Francisco. During this time he undertook residencies, drew extensively in cities old and new, familiar and completely unknown, and presented a solo exhibition at Solander Works on Paper Gallery Wellington. His WorldNomads Travel Diary can be found here

Congratulations to Michelle Hamer, winner of the $2000 Encouragement Award 2008

michelle hamer


Past Winners & Finalists








Toyota Australia congratulates Damon Kowarsky, recipient of the $10,000 Toyota Community Spirit Artist Travel Award 2008

Artist Damon Kowarsky of Prahran was announced the winner of the Toyota Community Spirit Artist Travel Award at the launch of Cryptozoology, the indoor-outdoor sculpture exhibition at the Toyota Community Spirit Gallery in Port Melbourne.

As the winner, Damon receives $10,000 from Toyota to travel to a destination of his choice with the aim of enhancing and furthering his artistic career.  His application and artwork was selected from more than 30 applications.


ABOVE:Michelle Hamer, winner of the $2000 Encouragement Award with MC Kim Watkins and the winner of the $10,000 Toyota Community Spirit Artist Travel Award 2008, Damon Kowarsky. Background: Veil by Louise Lavarack.


Damon will be making the most of his winnings, travelling to Spain and Egypt to undertake artistic residencies, New Zealand to exhibit at the Solander Works on Paper Gallery in Wellington, and exploring Singapore, New York and San Francisco.

Damon’s primary practice is in print making based on his sketches and drawings, which investigate the relationship between people and their urban environment.  His desire to travel is fuelled by curiosity – Damon hopes to discover the structure and importance of these relationships in other parts of the world, gain insight and perspective.


Curator for the Toyota Community Spirit Gallery, Ken Wong, said the Toyota Community Spirit Travel Award was designed to encourage artists to think about their career path. “Damon had a very clear picture of what he wanted to do.  His extensive travel plans mix learning and networking, while leaving room for inspiration – key elements for a successful artistic career,” Ken said. “International residencies will give Damon the opportunity to interact with other artists and share skills and knowledge, and his exploratory visits to New York, Singapore and San Francisco will spark inspiration.  Damon’s overseas experiences will be invaluable as he takes his career to the next level,” he said.

“The Toyota Community Spirit Travel Award stimulates artists to think about how they can develop their career.  The travel component is essential, because it encourages them to step out of their comfort zone and be inspired by new environments as well as build networks of contacts,” he said.

Finalists for the award were Leanne Mooney, Lani Pinnington, Cassandra Schultz, Vipoo Srivilasa, Merryn J Trevethan, Cyrus Wai-Kuen Tang and Michelle Hamer, who received the $2000 Encouragment Award.


The finalists for 2008 Toyota Community Spirit Artist Travel Award are:

Michelle Hamer
Damon Kowarsky
Leanne Mooney
Lani Pinnington
Cassandra Schultz
Vipoo Srivilasa
Merryn Trevethan
Cyrus Wai-Kuen Tang

The following projects were proposed:

Michelle Hamer: Though overseas travel I will research and extensively photograph signage in urban landscapes and interstitial spaces to develop a new series of tapestries. While exploring these ‘everyday’ spaces I will also undertake research into the history of signage in art and tapestry while concurrently building international networks through which to market and potential exhibit my artwork.

Damon Kowarsky: Two international residencies, an international exhibition, and exploratory visits to a further three cities. Over the three month period I will explore, make drawings of urban environments, visit museums, and engage with local cultural institutions. The material gathered will form the basis of the following year’s studio work in Melbourne, and future exhibitions in Australia and abroad.

leanne mooney

Leanne Mooney: This project will travel to four National Parks in South Eastern Australia, document and identify 4 main Eucalyptus species in each region. These will be photographed and embossed on paper and clay tablets. A sound recording will be made from each region. The final installation will consist of embossed prints, photogravures, drawings and a sound installation. This will be held at the Contemporary Sculpture Space in Vere Street, Collingwood in 2009.


lani pinningtonLani Pinnington: A tour through the southern parts of Mexico (3-4mnths) to develop works for an exhibition based on the themes of totem, myth, and idol. The ‘journey’ I propose is one of practical, professional and research orientated development. The new work will culminate in an exhibition in Australia between June/July of 2009. Investigation into the cultural and spiritual belief systems of the Native Hoichul Indians will greatly enhance my current research and future thesis to further benefit my professional development.


Cassandra Schultz: To work with trashpickers in Jakarta, using post consumer waste in collaboration with artist Ann Wizer and the XSProject Foundation. To create a new work which explores the legacy of irresponsible design and first world waste in third world countries. To document the development of this work in order to highlights the plight of trashpickers and to explore the value or vain efforts of activist arts in effecting real change.





Vipoo Srivilasa: A residency at self organised private studio in Chaing Mai, Thailand to produce work for a solo exhibition at Surapon Gallery, Bangkok and a collaboration with ceramic factory to develop new work for a solo exhibition in Australia.





Merryn J Trevethan: A research and painting tour of Thailand, Cambodia, Laos, Vietnam and China. Documenting the landscape and researching 17th c Chinese hand-scrolls, and non-western drawing systems. I will create my own scrolls, based on my travels at the Dragcon Artist in Residence program in Beijing. These will form the basis of a series of large paintings to be exhibited in Australia.



cyrusCyrus Wai-Kuen Tang: Hong Kong is a vibrant city and undergoing a huge re-development process, or better to say, continue to replace the old buildings carried their own character into identical high rising buildings. I propose to travel back to the Hong Kong, the cityy that I born, to document the buildings which are going to demolish. That is particularly referred to the apartment that I grew up. (I was being told the building that I lived with my mum will be torn down soon) Then this photognph will be combine with my drawings of my dream and ideal house when I am was kid and produce a large format print (like a wall paper). This wall paper will be attached on one of the whole wall in the gallery to create a uncanny setting.


Special thanks to our shortlist judging panel; Tania Blackwell, Hobsons Bay City Council; Louisa Scott, City of Port Phillip; Helen Kaptein, Australia Business Arts Foundation; Geoffrey Edwards, Director Geelong Gallery; Katarina Persic, Toyota Australia.


The Toyota Community Spirit Artist Travel Award project is mounted in consultation with the Australia Business Arts Foundation, Contemporary Sculptors Association, Hobsons Bay City Council and the City of Port Phillip.