Vale Nerine Martini

Leaving a legacy of public artworks and community inspired projects, Nerine Martini was an artist who tapped in universal themes of migration and belonging.
Vale Nerine Martini

Nerine Martini at her exhibition Unravel at AirSpace Projects, June 2016; image credit ArtSpace Projects

Last week, the news that visual artist Nerine Martini had passed away was heard across the Blue Mountains and Sydney's art community. Martini had survived a long battle with cancer, which eventually took her life. Thoughout that prolonged illness, she continued to work in her gentle way, engaging with the community-based projects which were the fuel for her creativity.

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AirSpace Projects said of her passing: ‘Nerine was a gentle soul and a sensitive artist who gave generously to both the arts and the wider community.’

Martini exhibited her body of work, Unravel, at AirSpace Projects in June 2016, which was followed by her final solo exhibition, Precarious at M Contemporary in 2018.

Nerini Martini, Between Certainties (2006), installation view, AirSpace Projects.

AirSpace Projects commented on social media: ‘It was just prior to her exhibition that Nerine was first diagnosed with breast cancer. We are so happy that Nerine continued to make work, exhibit widely, travel the world and undertake artist residencies before succumbing to her illness.’

In July 2017, Martini travelled to Finland to undertake a studio residency at Arteles Creative Cente. She also participated in group exhibition in those ensuing years – defying her health – at M Contemporary, Verge Gallery at the University of Sydney, and the Blacktown Arts Centre, where she had long been an active participant.

She was awarded a visual arts residency at Blacktown in 2014, courtesy Blacktown Art Centre, and was commissioned by Blacktown City Council to create a series of public artworks for the Glenwood Community Hub in Western Sydney (2013-2015).

Cultivations was a series of eight laser-cut corten steel artworks displayed along a 20m glass wall. The project involved a community engagement process to inform the imagery and text developed for the artworks. It was this project, and others with the same ethos, that Martini will perhaps best be remembered by.

She was an artist with the capacity to work eloquently and professionally across many fields, from her gallery practice to public art works. Among those public art projects are: Migration Public Art Project, Wollongong City Council, NSW (2015); Community Art Project, Australian Botanic Garden, Mount Annan, NSW (2008-2010) and Artist Planner, Blacktown Village Green, Blacktown City Council (2008). Windsor Cultural Mapping Project, Hawkesbury City Council (2006) represented Australia at the Fourth International Sculpture Symposium, Hue Vietnam in 2004.

Martini had an interest in working cross-culturally and creating artworks that respond to stories of migration, belonging, displacement, cultural identity and home. Interweaving personal and universal threads, her work poetically expressed concerns for humanity and our shared social and natural environments.

She was undertaking a PhD at Sydney College of the Arts, University of Sydney (2016-) which she had to suspend due to her health.

Martini held a Master of Fine Arts by research (sculpture) at the College of Fine Arts, University of New South Wale, and since 2006 lectured in Sculpture, Object Design and Ceramics at the Australian Catholic University, Strathfield, in Sydney’s Inner West.

She is survived by her partner Craig and her son.  

About the author

Gina Fairley is ArtsHub's National Visual Arts Editor. For a decade she worked as a freelance writer and curator across Southeast Asia and was previously the Regional Contributing Editor for Hong Kong based magazines Asian Art News and World Sculpture News. Prior to writing she worked as an arts manager in America and Australia for 14 years, including the regional gallery, biennale and commercial sectors. She is based in Mittagong, regional NSW.

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