Ross Steele AM Fellowship

Applications open

Applications close on Friday, 12 July 2024 at 5 pm AEST.

$12,000 - Supports research into the State Library of NSW pictorial collections.

About the Fellowship

The Ross Steele AM Fellowship supports research into the State Library of NSW pictorial collections. 

The Fellowship was inaugurated in 2019 with the support of Ross Steele AM. The Library has been collecting pictorial material since the 1880s, but the David Scott Mitchell Bequest of 1907 and the generosity of Sir William Dixson underpinned the compilation of the some of the largest pictorial collections in the country.

The pictorial collections are principally documentary, and their acquisition has operated in a market and context very different to fine art images. The broad history of the compilation of these collections is not well understood. Initially pictures were purchased to illustrate major historical landscapes, events and people, often with a focus on European colonisation. The evolution of the photographic image significantly changed the documentary impetus, however, and we now collect much more broadly, with an understanding that the full diversity of Australian life and culture needs to be recorded. In their diversity of format and their extent, these are some of the most significant and largest pictorial collections in Australia.

Exhibition galleries, State Library of New South Wales

This Fellowship asks the successful applicant to investigate key images or image collections (applications focusing on non-photographic media will be preferred by the judges), underpinned by the context of their particular acquisition and exhibition histories. Understanding the history of their acquisition and description is a vital first step in explaining why these collections are so important, and will be fundamental to further publications about them.

The Fellow will be given access to the Library’s records and object files about these artworks.

Guidelines and application

Please read the Guidelines carefully prior to applying.

Download the application form for the Ross Steele AM Fellowship  

For further information please refer to the Fellowship FAQs section or contact:


Phone: 02 9273 1765


Past fellows


Ms Deborah Beck for her project: Exposed and Composed: Artists’ models in Australia. 


Emeritus Professor Penny Russell, for her project: John Rae’s Sydney: Art in context.


Johanna Ellersdorfer, for her project: The paintings of Maurice Felton: A technical study of paintings and artistic networks in early colonial Sydney.


Professor Robert Phiddian, for his project: A Major Study of Editorial Cartoons, 1918-50.

2020 (Inaugural)

Dr David Hansen, for his project: Pictures in the Collections of the State Library of New South Wales.

Last updated:  13 May 2024

Fellowship Information



For further information please contact Scholarship:

Phone: 02 9273 1765