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Natalie Dietz: Writing a Grant Application Helps to Refine Your Goals as an Artist

Jul 05, 2017

I first applied for the Künstlerhaus Bethanien  studio way back in 1996 after I had visited Berlin as a backpacker. I applied on numerous occasions and when I finally got it I’d been spending more time in Berlin so the timing was excellent.

I was extremely excited to have an extended period to focus on my work and the developments in the work were greater and more varied than I had imagined. I had not expected to make so many friends amongst the other artists, nor to find their experiences as artists to be so enlightening (there were 20 other artists at the Bethanien during my stay).

A peek inside the Künsterhaus Bethanien studio. Credit: Lyndal Walker.

Berlin is a fascinating city to explore. There is an enormous amount of contemporary art to see which appears in alternative spaces, museums and commercial galleries. The art exhibited in Berlin is sometimes considered to be fairly dry and intellectual. Certainly there’s not the eagerness to please the audience that we so often see in Australia but the audience is generally very well educated and open. This is freeing as an artist, and affected the way I conceived my work. I was much more driven by my own desires and concerns than I think I have been in the past.

The winter was an extremely productive time, beginning with reflection, research and reading, which culminated in a major installation of photographs mounted on three paravent screens. This work really developed my interest in states of undress and extended it beyond the personal and psychological to the political. Although I’ve frequently worked with installation, this work extended my use of the three dimensional environment while using a form that extends my interests in fashion. I think this development was possible because of the technical assistance at the Bethanien but also because of a sense of ambition and professionalism in the exhibitions I was seeing in Berlin.

Changing Room, 2017, Lyndal Walker. Photograph courtesy of the artist.

This project, Changing Room will be shown in September at Hangmen Projects in Stockholm. While I was in Berlin, Caroline Price and I made a video work for The Hotham Street Ladies and developed a proposal to exhibit as part of Blood at the Science Museum in Melbourne and London. Caroline and I will install the work in London in October.  I also made a video piece that – like numerous photo shoots I did at Bethanien – need to be worked with and are yet to find a context for exhibition or publication. I would say my expectations of this experience were more than fulfilled.

Expressions of interest for the Kunstlerhaus Bethanien residency will open soon. For more information about international opportunities for artists, visit our website .