Five artists announced for Primavera 2021: Young Australian Artists

MCA-Hannah-Gartside-The-Sleepover-photo-by-Louis-LimFive artists will form this year’s Primavera 2021: Young Australian Artists exhibition at the Museum of Contemporary Art Australia (MCA). Now in its 30th edition, Primavera continues to be a significant platform for early-career Australian artists and curators to present exciting new work.

The Primavera 2021 artists are: Elisa Jane Carmichael (QLD), Dean Cross (NSW), Hannah Gartside (VIC), Sam Gold (SA), and Justine Youssef (NSW). Primavera 2021 considers the multi-faceted concept of resourcefulness, with each of this year’s chosen artists exploring ideas of sustainability and ingenuity within their practice.

This year’s Primavera exhibition is curated by Melbourne-based Aboriginal curator, Hannah Presley. Her practice focuses on the development of creative projects in close collaboration with artists, learning about the techniques, history and community that inform their making to help guide her curatorial process.

Presley is currently Curator, Indigenous Art at the National Gallery of Victoria where she recently curated Big Weather in 2021. Previously, she was the inaugural Yalingwa curator at Australian Centre for Contemporary Art where she curated A Lightness of Spirit is the Measure of Happiness in 2018, and was First Nations Assistant Curator for Tracey Moffatt at the 57th Venice Biennale in 2017.

Presley draws inspiration from her early roles working at Warumpi Arts, with Papunya Community, Iltja Ntjarra Many Hands Art Centre and later as Curator at the Koorie Heritage Trust, Melbourne.

For Primavera 2021, Presley brings together an exhibition that embraces each artist’s unique approach to their individual art-making practice. Each artist employs techniques shared across generations, materials that themselves hold memory or forms that invite new interpretations of the past. The exhibiting artists will present work of various media including textiles installation, ceramics, weaving, painting and video.

“The artists participating in Primavera 2021 are creating works that draw on personal narratives whilst also considering the history and implicit memory that resonates within their selected materials,” said curator Hannah Presley. “As this year’s curator, I was interested in exploring the choices each artist makes as their work evolves, what is brought forward and what is left behind.”

The Primavera 2021: Young Australian Artists are:

Elisa Jane Carmichael
Quandamooka woman Elisa Jane Carmichael is a multidisciplinary artist who honours her salt-water heritage by incorporating materials collected from Country, embracing traditional techniques, and expressing contemporary adaptations through weaving, painting, photo media and textiles.

She comes from a family of artists and curators, and works closely with her female kin to revive, nurture, and preserve cultural knowledge and practice. Elisa draws upon her practice to reflect on visual ancestral experiences of Quandamooka Bujong Djara (Mother Earth), to share the beauty, power, and importance of Country yesterday, today, and tomorrow – ngayigany, ngayiganya, ngayigawa (seen, seeing, will see).

Dean Cross
Dean Cross is a paratactical artist interested in collisions of materials, ideas and histories. He is motivated by the understanding that his practice sits within a continuum of the oldest living culture on Earth – and enacts First Nations sovereignty through expanded contemporary art methodologies.

He hopes to traverse the poetic and the political in a nuanced choreography of form and ideas. Cross has exhibited widely across the Australian continent and beyond and his work is held by major institutions including the Art Gallery of South Australia and the National Gallery of Victoria. Cross is represented by Yavuz Gallery.

Hannah Gartside
Hannah Gartside’s works present ways of experiencing the profound sensuality and subjectivity of our relationship to the physical world. Embedded in feminism and material culture, Gartside uses found textiles to create installations, sculptures and costumes; employing her skills of dress-making, patchwork quilting, and fabric dyeing accrued during her former career as a ballet and theatre costumier.

Both deeply personal and fiercely communal, Gartside’s works engage fundamental experiences and emotions of our human condition: longing, tenderness, connection, desire and wonderment.

Sam Gold
Sam Gold’s practice in ceramics and sculpture explores the body’s faculty for poiesis. Material and concept intertwine in Gold’s work, where cathartic, repeated gestures form traces of time and memory – acting as a holding space for experiences, self-regulation, queerness and otherness. Gold’s work considers the storiness of our lived materiality and views objects as artefacts that are imbued with intimate acts of meaning.

Justine Youssef
Justine Youssef’s practice considers the individual and communal effects of displacement. Working across video, installation, and performance, their site-responsive works focus on moments and places that reconfigure authoritative realities. Youssef is an artist in residence at Parramatta Artist Studios.

Primavera is the Museum of Contemporary Art Australia’s (MCA) annual exhibition of young Australian artists aged 35 and under. Since 1992, the Primavera series has showcased the works of artists and curators in the early stages of their career.

Former Primavera artists, including Mikala Dwyer, Shaun Gladwell, Danie Mellor, Agatha Gothe-Snape, Taloi Havini and Abdul Abdullah, have gone on to exhibit nationally and internationally.

Primavera was initiated in 1992 by Dr Edward Jackson AM, Mrs Cynthia Jackson AM and their family in memory of their daughter and sister Belinda, a talented jeweller who died at the age of 29 years old.

Primavera is a special occasion on the MCA’s annual exhibition calendar, as it acts as a springboard for many artists’ careers, introducing the work of younger artists to a wider audience,” said MCA Director, Elizabeth Ann Macgregor OBE. “Presley has curated an exceptional group of talented young artists.”

Primavera 2021: Young Australian Artists is a free exhibition and on display at the Museum of Contemporary Art Australia from Friday 1 October 2021 – Sunday 13 February 2022. For more information, visit: for details.

Image: Hannah Gartside, The Sleepover (detail), 2017–19, found nighties and slips, found synthetic fabric and cotton ribbon, millinery wire, thread, wood, image courtesy and © the artist – photo by Louis Lim