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About the residency

The Library’s Artist in Residence program is aimed at connecting emerging and established artists with the iconic buildings of the State Library of NSW and its world-class collections. The program is a three-month residency designed for artists to creatively respond to the physical spaces and/or interpret our collections. The program aims to create awareness of the Library’s collections and the role art can play in documenting life, society, buildings and landscapes in NSW.  

What does the creative artist residency provide?

Sydney Public Library, c 1931
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Our residency provides access to the Library’s Fellows Room and behind-the-scenes access to our buildings and collections. The residency period is three months, with an artwork or artworks to be completed at the end of the residency. It is expected that the successful artist/s will give a public presentation of the progress or completion of their project.  

Artists will receive:

  • special access to collections and staff expertise 
  • access to office facilities and a personal workstation in the Fellows Room, Mitchell Library 
  • copies of collection materials (within reasonable limits and access conditions)
  • artist will become part of the Library’s community of researchers and Friends for a period of up to 1 year  

The Artist in Residence program is not automatically acquisitive, but the Library reserves the right to potentially acquire works created during the residency which fall within our Collection Development Policy. These could be preparatory sketches or finished works completed later as a result of the residency.  

Our previous creative artists include:

  • 2015 John Bokor, King Street Gallery 
  • 2016 Joe Frost, Watters Gallery 
  • 2017 Wendy Sharpe, King Street Gallery 
  • 2019 Hadyn Wilson, gallery? 

What is a creative artist residency project?

Artists should propose an artistic project (up to 600 words) that demonstrates their intended creative response to either the Library’s buildings, spaces or collections. The project can be at a conceptual stage, requiring research and development, or the artist could be working towards the next stage of development. The project can also be developed at the time of the residency, for example reimagining or being inspired by buildings or collections. The project should seek to develop an innovative artist creation. Works may be developed in the practicing artist’s preferred medium; however, restrictions apply to dry mediums when using collection materials and in certain Library spaces, in accordance with Library policies. The artist does not need to complete the works during the residency but works should be significantly developed by the end of the three-month period.  

What will be the requirements?

The Artist in Residence will be required to:  

  • Complete residency within three months. This is to ensure equitable access to the Fellows Room for other creative practitioners. This program is a short-term, self-directed residency, and Library staff will be available to provide artists with support, access and assist with any issues should they arise.  
  • The residency is not a prize, award or Fellowship but an invitation to selected emerging or established artists who have successfully applied to interpret or respond visually and creatively to the Library’s public, behind-the-scenes interior spaces and its collections. 
  • It is expected that the artist will participate in a public program, lecture or event depending on the availability and area of work undertaken by the artist.  
  • Assist in promoting the residency through media and public communications.  
  • Sell selected works created during the residency to the Library that fall within the Library’s Collection Development Policy and with the understanding the library owns full copyright of purchased works.  This will be set out in full by acquisition process at the point of formal acquisition and will be subject to negotiation by artist.  

The artist retains copyright of their own artistic works created during the residency with the exemption of the use of images of these works to be used by the Library for promotional purposes. 

Should the works created by an Artist in Residence during the residency be displayed by another gallery the Library reserves the rights of first refusal.  

Who is eligible?

 The program is open to artists who practice any art form excluding literature. This includes music, dance, theatre, visual arts, experimental and digital art forms.  

The Artist in Residence program is designed to assist creative practitioners and artists who practice/exhibit their artistic format. Applicants should be professional practising artists who are at any stage of their career. Applicants must be able to demonstrate previous work and a capability to communicate their artwork to a general audience.

Scholarships and grants must be outlined in the application and artist should provide information about any association with a gallery or cultural institution in their attached CV.  

How many residencies will be offered each year?

Up to three residency positions will be offered each calendar/financial year. There is flexibility for the timeframe for the residency, but this should not extend longer than three months.  

How do I apply?

Applications open for the Artist in Residence program in ?. Applications are submitted online and require: 

  • CV (up to 5 pages) that outlines your professional career 
  • documentation that provides evidence of your artistic work 
  • a project outline for the three-month residency
  • two referees.
Past artists in residence


Wendy Sharpe took inspiration from the panoramic views from the Mitchell Library rooftop and captured our buildings in a period of transition during the Mitchell Galleries Project.


Joe Frost focused on the Library as a social space and also found inspiration in the Library’s collections.


John Bokor focused on capturing the historic Mitchell Library Reading Rooms from the balconies.