UNSW gratefully acknowledges the gifts made by the many friends and admirers of the late Nick Waterlow which make this Scholarship possible. The purpose of this scholarship is to encourage students to undertake a Master of Curating and Cultural Leadership degree.
Amount: $5,000 per annum
Tenure: Duration of program, subject to satisfactory progress
To be eligible for the Scholarship, applicants must be proposing to undertake, or be currently undertaking, full-time postgraduate study in the Master of Curating and Cultural Leadership.
Australian citizens or permanent residents
Selection will be based on academic merit. Consideration may be given to any social and/or economic circumstances, which may hinder successful transition to UNSW.
Scholarship holders will be required to submit a written report to UNSW Scholarships at the completion of the Scholarship.
How to apply
Applicants should apply online via the UNSW Scholarships My Application Online.
For more information please contact:
Anyone who knew Waterlow would remember a man who invited passionate conversation on most topics and treated life like an adventure. He enjoyed stories, history and the wonder of everyday experiences. His exuberance was infectious.
When he died at age 68, he was at the height of his career. He had worked in the art world for more than 40 years, dating from his early career in the 1960s in London as curator at Editions Alecto and then in Oxford as director of the Bear Lane Gallery, and ending in 2009 in Sydney, Australia, where he was a celebrated teacher, gallery director and cultural advocate.
Waterlow’s attachment to Australia began well before his 1977 immigration. In the mid 1960s he had ventured to Sydney and met his future wife, Romy. It was together with Romy that Waterlow travelled back to England to begin his career and then decided to return to Australia to further it. Settling in Melbourne, Waterlow undertook a postgraduate degree at Monash University in Art Administration and then moved with his family to Sydney to teach at the Alexander Mackie College of Advanced Education, which later became the College of Fine Arts and is now UNSW Art & Design.
In 1979 Waterlow was appointed the director of the 3rd Biennale of Sydney. In his applicant’s proposal for directorship, Waterlow said he would make “a Creative People’s Biennale”, involving artists, gallery people, industry, state, government and community groups, students and sponsors. His goal was “a highly unique Sydney Biennale”, to be recognised nationally and internationally.
Themed European Dialogue, Waterlow’s proposal challenged the dominance of the New York contemporary art world and shifted attention to new trends in Europe and Australia. His plan worked. The 1979 Biennale attracted international attention and critical review and drew large numbers of locals to it.
Waterlow, however, did more than launch the 1979 Biennale onto an international stage. He doubled the number of exhibiting women artists, especially increasing the number of Australian women (although this amounted to only 10, five of whom were Australian, of the total 62 artists exhibited, it was an improvement upon the single Australian female artist and four international women selected for the 1976 Biennale). He introduced the first major survey exhibition of contemporary Indigenous Arnhem Land art. He broadened and politicised the language used to describe the importance of artists, art and culture. And he pointedly included no American artists.
Waterlow went on to direct two more Biennales of Sydney (1988 and 1998), chair the international Biennale artist selection committee (2000), and become one of Australia’s best-known curators.
For almost 20 years, Waterlow was director of the Ivan Dougherty Gallery at UNSW Art & Design; a small two room gallery, that in the words of celebrated Sydney artist, Alan Oldfield, “Packs a punch. The gallery delivers shows well above its weight. Of course, it’s on the map due entirely to Nick. He is known to and knows everyone.”
For example, his 2003 Larrikins in London exhibition featured work of and by virtually every conceivable significant Australian artist who ventured to London in the 1960s including Robert Hughes, Martin Sharp, Robert Whitaker, Jane Oehr, Marsha Rowe, Barry Humphries, Lewis Morley, Jenny Kee, Richard Neville, Germaine Greer, Louise Ferrier, Sidney Nolan, Richard Walsh, and Brett Whiteley – all of whom were friends of Waterlow.
Equally impressive, the 2008 exhibition, Colour in Art – Revisiting 1919 exhibition, secured the release of almost 50 of Australia’s most important Roland Wakelin’s and Roy de Maistre’s works exploring Maistre’s colour-music theory that links the colour spectrum with notes in a musical octave. For Waterlow, “1919 was the crucial moment when Modernism landed in Australia… This was a moment of revelation, when a new paradigm was made manifest, one that continues to resonate almost ninety years later…” Based on relationships and trust, numerous and crucial artworks were loaned from major public galleries throughout Australia, regional galleries, public institutions and private collections.
Another show, broad in scope and impact, was for Matthew and Others: Journeys with Schizophrenia. It featured huge array of artworks by established artists, including (among many others) Mike Parr, James Gleeson, Anne Ferran, John Perceval, Marin Sharp, and Albert Tucker. Oral and social histories from people with first hand experience of schizophrenia were presented, a conference examining the links between madness and creativity was held, an education kit was produced, and a Mad Pride Concert was staged to coincide with the exhibition at the Campbelltown Arts Centre. This exhibition had personal consequence for Waterlow, whose eldest son suffered from the disorder.
For those wondering if there was a secret to Waterlow’s success, the answer is yes. He told us what it was in his “Curator’s Last Will and Testament”. This handwritten document reads as follows:
- An eye of discernment
- An empty vessel
- An ability to be uncertain
- Belief in the necessity of art & artists
- A medium – bringing a passionate and informed understanding of works of art to an audience in ways that will stimulate, inspire, question
- Making possible the altering of perception
In 2009 Nick Waterlow was killed by his son, Anthony, who suffered from paranoid schizophrenia. News of his death was shocking and public mourning immense. For his funeral, St Mary’s Cathedral in the centre of Sydney filled beyond capacity, and those not able to get into the church lined the steps and the courtyard surrounding the entrance.
Soon following the funeral, fundraising began to ensure that Waterlow’s legacy was not forgotten. More than $100,000 was raised within a few weeks to establish the Nick Waterlow Scholarship. Donations came from former students of Waterlow’s, such as Meg Lomm and Bronwyn McKenzie, to local artists, like Jutta Feddersen, Ken Done, and Eileen Slarke, through to established members of Sydney’s arts society including, Gordon and Marilyn Darling, Ann Lewis, and Luca and Anita Belgiorno-Nettis. The money enabled the scholarship to be run in perpetuity.
In 2011, the inaugural Nick Waterlow Scholarship was awarded to Kim Goodwin, a UNSW Art & Design Master of Art Administration student. Since then, one outstanding student per year undertaking the UNSW Art & Design Master of Curating Cultural Leadership has been awarded the scholarship.
In further recognition of Waterlow's work, the Visual Arts Board of the Australia Council, of which Waterlow was director in 1983, established the Nick Waterlow Curatorial Fellowship to enable students of curatorial studies to work with future directors of the Biennale of Sydney.