MAVA Pathfinders

As a part of the MAVA Substation offering, Metro Arts is thrilled to offer ‘MAVA Pathfinders’.

Ensuring a strong local independent sector of artists, MAVA Pathfinders is supporting three Queensland, mid-career visual artists to explore entrepreneurial opportunities and harness their potential to build sustainable careers. Based at the MAVA Substation, the program involves a 12-month paid residency for each of the three artists, studio space, materials budget, workshop access, and professional development opportunities.

This residency is about building entrepreneurial and resilient career models for artists that feed creative practice and enable financial security. The focus will be on exploring new opportunities and ways of working that better ensure immediate and long-term financial sustainability, as well as equip artists with the pragmatic skills required to access new audiences and opportunities.

This initiative, valued at over $200,000 has been made possible through generous support from the Federal Government’s Restart Investment to Sustain and Expand (RISE) Fund, and Metro Arts.

The inaugural recipients are Caitlin Franzmann, an immersive artist who uses her craft to explore environment, history and placemaking, Elizabeth Willing, whose multi-disciplinary work is thematically inspired by food and hospitality, and painter, photographer and digital media artist James Barth.


This project is supported by the Restart Investment to Sustain and Expand (RISE) Fund  – an Australian Government initiative. 

Caitlin Franzmann

Caitlin creates installations, sonic experiences, performances, and social practice works that focus on place-based knowledge and embodied practices. In reaction to the fast pace and sensory overstimulation of contemporary urban life, she invites people to slow down, listen and contemplate interactions with their surroundings and with other living entities, including plants, insects, water, rocks and micro-organisms. Her methodologies are collaborative, research-based and process driven, guided by eco-feminist and social practice theories. This includes interdisciplinary field work and knowledge exchange with traditional knowledge holders, ecologists, conservationists, healers, sociologists, and others. In addition to desk-based research, her methodologies are conversational, embodied (i.e. walking, sensing, feeling, playing, thinking) and magical. The creative outcomes of her research manifest in a myriad of ways; immersive installations, divination cards, sculpture, poetry, audio works, participatory performance, workshops, and guided gatherings.


During her MAVA Pathfinder residency, Caitlin will be focusing on the socially engaged side of her practice and on her contribution to the collective work of Ensayos in Australia through developing arts and ecology-based courses and learning experiences. These will be frameworks that can be adapted for schools, community groups, art institutions and universities, offering immersive experiences for participants to connect with a sense of wonder for natural systems; understand the necessity of biodiversity; and encourage conversations around learning with, and caring for, place. Part of her research will involve sharing and practicing some of Ensayos’ methodologies which challenge individualistic frameworks and enable dialogue across disciplines by stimulating curiosity in the language and outlook of different researchers concerned with the conservation biology of peatlands. 

Elizabeth Willing

Liz creates performance, sculptural, and installation works using food and food culture as inspiration and material. For her, food is the catalyst she uses to translate the ineffable body, to reflect on the performance of eating, and to facilitate multisensory experiences in an otherwise ocularcentric context. She uses hospitality as a framework for understanding the relationships that develop in her artworks between the audience, artist and artwork, with her objects being the mediator and outcome of performing hospitality. Liz’s practice is often ephemeral but has also included concept dinners and collaborative performances that use the dining table as a stage for interactive designs and more permanent works that capture the traces of ephemeral moments in materials such as timber, ceramic, plaster, metal, and plastic.


During her MAVA Pathfinder residency Liz will develop her technical, design and project management skills through the creation of an editioned small sculptural work, Candelabra, and a larger public artwork, Gate. These projects involve complex sculptural techniques and explore what is welcome past the mouth, food, lovers, medicine, living or dead things, and nutrition made in the ground, the factory or the lab. For both projects she has been inspired by the craft and designs of her blacksmith father, reinterpreting his metalwork through her own creative lens. These pieces lend themselves to larger more ambitious commissions, and shift towards forms that are moveable, scalable, and able to be installed as temporary or permanent work. Liz is also interested to see how these works might be activated through participation and performance.   

Elizabeth is represented by Tolarno Galleries.

James Barth

James’ work integrates painting with digital 3D modelling. Specifically, she creates self-portraits and uses avatars as a means to explore the signification of their transgender identity and representation. James’ work examines photo painting, science fiction, cinematic language, and poetic gestures through painting and digital techniques. She draws on these histories (and the wider history) of portraiture to create oil paintings and video works. At the core of her methodology is 3D world building. She begins works by creating assets and props, various models of herself, as well as stages which she then assembles into tableaux to begin forming compositions. From there, her art takes one of two directions. One is that these core compositions become oil paintings. To achieve this, she renders the composition as a digital image which is used to create the silkscreen equivalent of a film negative. This silkscreen is then used to build up layers of oil paint on to a dibond substrate. She then manipulates the still-wet oil with a brush, thus producing the final work. The second direction is that these compositions become video works using keyframe animation and complex animation rigs that are able to use inbuilt assets, such as motion capture. In tandem with developing camera movement and editing patterns as well as matching sound and narration, these initially inert compositions become single or multi-channel video works.


During her Pathfinder residency James will develop a new and technically ambitious body of work. As a part of this project she will create a digitally animated video work, using facial motion capture to create an avatar modelled on herself. This project builds upon James’ existing practice, going well beyond the scope of previous work. As a part of developing the work James will, connect with mentors and collaborators to further expand and deepen her technical skills and learn how to direct vocal and facial motion capture performances.

James is represented by Milani Gallery.


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