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  • Sep 11, 2020

Obituary: Kate Daw (1965–2020)

Artist and educator KATE DAW,

Kate Daw, painter, sculptor, educator, writer, curator, and seminal arts figure in Melbourne passed away on September 7 at the age of 55. The details of her death have not been disclosed.

Born in Esperance, Western Australia, Daw was known for her active involvement with the country's arts community as well as her utilization of her own art as a vehicle for feminist advocacy. Her works convey ideas about the female experience, social issues, and took inspiration from her personal life. Her typewritten text paintings feature multiple sources, with excerpts drawn from her own writings and works by well-known authors such as Jean Rhys and Marcel Proust. Her more recent paintings combine snapshots of her memories interwoven with cultural motifs and modernist designs.

Daw moved to Melbourne at the age of 18. After completing her undergraduate studies at the Victorian College of the Arts (VCA), University of Melbourne, she started her MFA at The Glasgow School of Art as the recipient of the 1995 Anne and Gordon Samstag International Visual Arts Scholarship, before completing her postgraduate studies at RMIT University upon her return to Melbourne. She would later return to VCA for her PhD, exploring narratives within contemporary art, and completing it in 2006.

Early on in her career, she became involved with a group of young avant-garde artists such as Callum Morton and Kathy Temin, as well as the Support Women Image Makers (SWIM), which would go on to have a lasting impact on her work. She became VCA’s head of painting in 2000, and later, head of VCA and its associate director for partnerships and projects in 2018. She was dedicated to fostering a culture of positive change and creativity within the college and the wider community. In 2011, she collaborated with artist Stewart Russell on the bronze bell structure Civil Twilight End, permanently installed at Melbourne’s Docklands, aimed to promote a sense of community, reverie, and natural rhythm.

Since 1992, Daw’s works have been exhibited extensively, including a major solo exhibition at the Art Gallery of Western Australia in Perth in 2005. Daw was represented by Sarah Scout Presents where she first exhibited in 2009 and most recently in 2018. In 2014, her work was selected for the Biennale of Sydney by artistic director Juliana Engberg. Her more recent exhibitions include group exhibitions at Sydney’s Museum of Contemporary Art Australia in 2016, the Australian Centre for Contemporary Art in Southbank in 2017, and Melbourne’s Ian Potter Museum in 2018. She also curated numerous shows, including exhibitions at Melbourne’s Margaret Lawrence Gallery, in 2007, 2009, and 2018.

Daw is survived by her partner, Robert Hassan, and her children, Theo and Camille. 

Stephanie Siu is an editorial intern at ArtAsiaPacific.

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