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John Vella

B. 1969, Sydney, Australia. Lives and works in Hobart, Tasmania, Australia

John Vella commits acts of physical and conceptual frottage on communities, objects and systems; ‘rubbings’ that recycle the act and artefact of lived experience. Mediating status, value and ‘damage by design’ Vella develops diverse testimonies to the epic and incidental aspects of our personal and material histories.

John Vella was born and raised in Sydney and moved to Hobart, Tasmania in 1996. Since dropping out of studying architecture in 1988, he has traveled extensively overseas, worked as a waiter, labourer, photographer, telemarketer, truck loader, phone book factory hand, exhibitions officer, and gallery attendant; completed a DipFA with Distinction (National Art School Sydney), a BFA (Hons) first class and an MFA (Research) at the Tasmanian School of Art, University of Tasmania, Hobart.

John Vella has developed a number of independent and collaborative art projects across diverse national and international contexts that include: the Stockholm Independent Art Fair, Sweden; Glasgow International Arts Festival, Glasgow, UK; Museum of Contemporary Art Sydney; The Helen Lempriere National Sculpture Award, Melbourne; AEAF Adelaide and the Tasmanian Museum and Art Gallery, and Contemporary Art Tasmania, Hobart. In addition to having been awarded five major public art commissions, Vella has also curated a number of major exhibitions. Vella has exhibited in a many solo and group exhibitions and received grants from various institutions including the Australia Council, Ian Potter Foundation and Arts Tasmania. John is a Senior Lecturer at the School of Creative Arts, University of Tasmania. His work is represented in private and public collections.


2017-Current PhD School of Creative Arts (SOCA), University of Tasmania, Hobart

1997- 00 MFA (Research) Painting Tasmanian School of Art, University of Tasmania, Hobart

1996 BFA (Hons. First class) Tasmanian School of Art, University of Tasmania, Hobart

1991 -1993 Dip FA (Distinction) National Art School, Sydney

1987 – 88 Bachelor of Architecture University of Technology, Sydney (completed 2 yrs)

Curatorial projects

2018 PANOPTICON II (TICKTOCK), Dark Mofo, Centre for the Arts, Hobart

2017 PANOPTICON, Dark Mofo, Centre for the Arts, Hobart

2016 BRAINSTORM, DarK Mofo, centre for the Arts, Hobart

2015 SoWatkins (assisted curator Jonathan Watkins), Plimsoll Gallery, Hobart

2010 ONLINE (fishing), Plimsoll Gallery, Hobart

2009 ONALOG, Plimsoll Gallery, Hobart

2008 ONAROLL, Plimsoll Gallery, Hobart

2005 Acidophilus, Tasmanian Museum and Art Gallery, Hobart

2004 Group Material, member of curatorial team, Tasmanian Museum and Art Gallery, Hobart

2002 Pattern as Subject, assistant curator (with CAST director Sean Kelly), CAST, Hobart

Solo Exhibitions / collaborative projects (selected)

2014 CRYMEARIVER, Heavy Metals Project, Museum of Old and New Art (MONA), Hobart (collaborative project with Lucy Bleach)

2013 DIRTY BIG WHOLE, Constance A.R.I., Hobart, (collaborative project with Lucy Bleach)

2011 BESTPRACTICE, Art Space, Hobart (Part of ITERATION AGAIN – Curated by David Cross)

2010 HANGBANG, CAST Gallery, Hobart

2009 permissiontosit, Criterion Gallery, Hobart

2006 FUME, solo commission project, Devonport Regional Gallery, Devonport. Bath (yet to be acquired), Criterion Gallery, Hobart

2005 Inklein, Criterion Gallery, Hobart. Apartment, series of 6 solos curated by David O’Halloran, Melbourne

2003   PlaceMats, Moonah Arts Centre, Hobart

2002 Product Lines, Academy Gallery, Launceston

2001 On Loan from a Private Collection, Bett Gallery, Hobart. Going Off, Canberra Contemporary Art Space, Canberra

2001 Enter The Paintject, MFA submission, Plimsoll Gallery, Hobart

1999 Going Off, Foyer Gallery Hobart

1997 Object Poverty, Access Contemporary Art Gallery, Sydney

1996 Watch this Space, Gallery Dunce, Hobart

1994 Untitled, Access Contemporary Art Gallery, Sydney

Group Exhibitions (selected)


In Transit, Stadskantoor, Leeuwarden, the Netherlands, curated by Vince Briffa

NRW-Forum in Düsseldorf Germany and Feldkirch (touring)

Villa Claudia in Feldkirch in Vorarlberg, Austria (touring)


Exhaust, Contemporary Art Tasmania, curated by Erin Sickler, Hobart


Mdina Biennale, Malta, Europe, curated by Guiseppe Schembri


SHUTTLE – international mobile desert performance / Toyon Courtyard/ Old Union Courtyard, Stanford University, Palo Alto, USA, Tucson Museum of Art, USA,              curated by Mick Douglas

SUPERMARKET PROJECT, Stockholm, Sweden, curated by Jessie Bullivant & Isadora Vaughan

domain: a contested environment, Domain House, Hobart, curated by Noel Frankham


Art Lending Library (Walker/Bromwich), Mitchell Library, Glasgow International Arts Festival


Karsten Schubert Photographic Award, Gold Coast City Art Gallery

Because I’m Lucky, (with Elvis Richardson), Conical Inc. Gallery, Melbourne

New Acquisitions, Tasmanian Museum and Art Gallery, Hobart. 

I Walk the Line: New Australian Drawing, Museum of Contemporary Art (MCA) Sydney,

curated by Christine Morrow

Portraits and Architecture, National Portrait Gallery Canberra,

curated by Christopher Chapman

Finalist, City of Hobart Art Prize, Tasmanian Museum and Art Gallery, Hobart

TRUST (Clarendon Estate), Tasmania (Ten Days on the Island), curated by Noel Frankham

SRL (Stigma Research Lab) – in collaboration with UTAS School of Sociology and CAST – various venues, curated by Michael Edwards and Sean Kelly

Group Action Four, Criterion Gallery, Hobart

Spatial Origami – In collaboration with the UTAS School of Architecture, and architect Chris Bosse, Tasmania (Ten Days on the Island)


Ecchymosis, Criterion Gallery, Hobart


MADE PUBLIC, curated by Paula Silva, Carnegie Gallery, Hobart

New Deities, curated by Catherine Wolfhagen, Plimsoll Gallery, Hobart

Nourish, curated by Zara Stanhope, CAST Gallery, Hobart


Subpoena, with Louise Hubbard, curated by Adrien Allen, Conical Inc., Melbourne

Someone Shows Something to Someone, curated by Mark Hislop & Toni Bailey, CCAS, Canberra

Object, curated by Ellie Ray, Devonport Regional Gallery, Devonport

Partnership of Perish, curated by Margaret Baguley, Academy Gallery, Launceston

Come with Me, Royal Botanical Gardens, curated by James Newitt


Rhapsody 21C: Tasmanian Contemporary Art, curated by Malcom Bywaters, Academy Gallery

ArtAid@TMAG, Tasmanian Museum and Art Gallery, Hobart

Letitia St Studios, curated by Michael Edwards, Plimsoll Gallery, Hobart

Stanley Art Award, curated by Catherine Wolfhagen, Stanley Artworks, Stanley


Free Time, curated by Philip Watkins, CAST Gallery, Hobart

Riverine Sculpture Exhibition, Werribee Park, Melbourne

Interpreting 2004, Tasmanian Museum and Art Gallery, Hobart

Hutchins Drawing Prize, Long Gallery, Hobart.

Melbourne International Arts Festival, Melbourne (curated by Robyn Archer in consultation with Juliana Engberg) 

Finalist: The Helen Lempriere National Sculpture Award, Werribee Park, Melbourne

Haven, curated by Kevin Murray, Long Gallery, Salamanca Arts Centre, Hobart + Craft Victoria Melbourne + Burnie Regional Art Gallery, Burnie (2004)

Bodybag – Somewhere over the rainbow. curated by Malcom Bywaters,

Academy Gallery, Launceston + Carnegie Gallery, Hobart (2004)

Art/History, curated by Catherine Wolfhagen, Woolmers Estate, Longford


Queue Here, curated by Lisa Byrne + Silvia Velez, CCAS, Canberra

LSS@arts@work, arts@work, Hobart

TerraTowel, installation, National Multicultural Festival, Canberra

Touching From a Distance, curated by Tiia Valentina Covich and Julie-Ann Hall, Moores Building, Fremantle

Sculpture by the Sea, (selected by Jim Crooke and Tom Arthur) Bondi, Sydney

TerraTowel, installation -10 Days on the Island Festival, directed by Robyn Archer, Hobart

Hutchins Drawing Prize, Long Gallery, Hobart

Axiom, curated by Linda Goodman, The Australia Council, Sydney

Australian Contemporary Art Fair, Royal Exhibition Building, Melbourne

Do Not Touch, curated by Kelly Squires, CAST Gallery Hobart (Touring)


WARP, curated by David Hansen, CAST Gallery Hobart (Touring)

Liquid Evasions, curated by Jessica Ball/Anjanette Shaw, Plimsoll Gallery, Hobart

Sublime Absence, curated by Renai Stoneley, Smith+Stoneley Gallery, Brisbane

Duo, Exhibition with Derek O’Connor, Dick Bett Gallery, Hobart

Hutchins Drawing Prize, Long Gallery, Hobart

Selected to represent Centre for the Arts, ACUADS, Gallery 101, Melbourne

Hutchins Drawing Prize, Long Gallery Hobart


House, Entrepot Art Gallery, Hobart


Finalist, NSW Travelling Art Scholarship exhibition, COFA, UNSW, Sydney


Finalist, NSW Travelling Art Scholarship exhibition, COFA, UNSW, Sydney

Finalist, Lloyd Rees Memorial Youth Art award, ABC Centre, Sydney

Recognising the Republic, Michael Nagy Fine Art Gallery, Sydney


Finalist, NSW Travelling Art Scholarship exhibition, COFA, UNSW, Sydney

Fishers Ghost Art Award, Judge’s choice exhibition, Campbelltown City Art Gallery

Selected as Painting representative, National Art School, Inter College Comp.

Many Ways of Seeing, Graduate exhibition, Cell Block Gallery, National Art School, Sydney



S C A P E, Hydro Consulting, Cambridge, Hobart (collaboration with Scottish artist Stephen Hurrel)


Lifelines / Graduate Gallery, Royal Hobart


Silicone Valley, Rose Bay High School, Hobart


Coles Old World, Coles Sandy Bay, Hobart


Munch Boxes, Clarence Dental Clinic, Hobart



Tasmanian Community Fund


Community Engagement Grant, University of Tasmania


Institute for Social Change Flagship grant, University of Tasmania

Ian Potter Arts funding

Community Engagement Grant, University of Tasmania


Research Enhancement Grants Scheme, University of Tasmania

Australian Learning and Teaching Council (ALTC) Citation for Outstanding Contribution to Student Learning / VC’s Award Outstanding Contributions to Teaching and Learning (UTAS) 


UTAS Teaching Development Grant

UTAS Community Engagement Grant (part of team / SRL / HACRU)


Australia Council funded Tasmanian representative for International Conference

Empires Ruins + Networks, Art in Real Time Culture, Federation Square, Melbourne


New Work Grant (established), Australia Council

Artsbridge Grant, Arts Tasmania


Arts/ Events Grant, Arts Tasmania

Arts Industry Grant, Arts Tasmania


Pat Corrigan Artists’ Grant

Artsbridge Grant, Arts Tasmania


New Work Grant (emerging), Australia Council

Artsbridge Grant, Arts Tasmania


Artists Development Grant, Arts Tasmania

Professional Development Grant, Arts Tasmania

Artsbridge Grant, Arts Tasmania

Book Chapters and Conference papers (selected)


Keep Calm and Carry on, Book chapter in Associations: Creative Practice and Research, James Oliver (ed.), MUP Academic

The Whether project: transformative ‘Extra Tertiary’ platforms in Tasmania (with Lucy Bleach & Wendy Fountain) in Transformative Pedagogies in the Visual Domain, Marie Sierra & Kit Wise (eds.) Common Ground Publishing


Dilemmas of the Diaspora, presented at Maltese Living Abroad Convention, Malta, Europe


Wilderness… The Second’s Coming, presented at ASLEC conference, Monash, Melbourne


Remote control: Frangibility and the art of blood letting the permanent, presented at One Day Sculpture: International Symposium, New Zealand


Site Specificity, The Local And The Faking Of Belonging, presented at ACUADS Conference, Sydney


Beauty as the beast: creativity, the exotic and the dark side of desirability, refereed / published paper presented at ACUADS Conference, Melbourne

Trailertrashed: Detritus inspired strategies for interrogating place paper presented at Senses of Place, Conference, Hobart also published in Island Magazine


Monumentalities: public art and the culture of civic branding refereed / published paper presented at ACUADS Conference, Perth


Artbank / University of NSW / Tasmanian Museum & Art Gallery / Private collections

Selected articles/reviews



Report on the Panopticon Exhibition, ABC Radio Hobart, Hobart, Statewide Evenings, Firas Massouh, 19 Jun 2017, 7:11 PM

CAT website –

gallery guide –

post for EDGE RADIO radio interview –


WARP music and arts / July 2016 p.20  Review: Brainstorm at the Plimsoll Gallery, September 21, Penelope Benton.

S—storm – Art school takes down Dark Mofo artwork. ABC radio 936

Dark Mofo lineup announcement trailer for embedding from Friday 8 April at 6.25pm:


Oysters heal river, MONA Heavy Metal Porject, Artlink, vol 34 No. 3, Stephanie Radock  April 16 Cassandra Smith

Witness: Linden Centre For Contemporary Arts – Dan Rule



Realtime 106, Lucy Hawthorne,


Monkey Business: John Vella’s HANGBANG(nightshift) Kit Wise Un Magazine 5.1, pp.17-18


I Walk the Line: New Australian Drawing, Art & Australia, Vol 47 No. 1 Spring, Craig Judd

SRL: Stigma Research Laboratory, Artlink, vol 29 No. 3, Andrew Harper

SCAPE, Landscape Architecture Australia, August 09, pp.36-38, Judith Abell

Sydney Morning Herald, John McDonald

Ten Days on the Island, Art Monthly June issue, pp. 22 – 25, Daniel Thomas

The sound many hands clapping, Artlink, vol 29. No.2, pp 11-13, Stephanie Radok

Art Notes, Art Monthly, September issue, p.60, Rebecca Tudor

John Vella, permissiontosit, Gallery Guide, PhiIip Watkins


Commissions in Brief, Sculpture (USA publication) vol. 27, no.7 September, p.27, Elizabeth Lynch

Lifelines and Graduate Gallery, Artichoke vl. 23, pp. 89-92, Judith Abell

SCAPE, featured on Stateline, ABC TV,


STUDIO: Australian Painters on the Nature of Creativity, John McDonald (book & DVD)

New Deities, Artlink vol 27 no.3, Briony Downes


Commissions (Internationally juried public art commissions), Sculpture (USA publication) vol. 25 no. 8 October, pp.18.19, Laura Dillon

Silicone Wonder, Urbis (New Zealand publication), issue 33, pp.54-55, Melinda Williams

FUME, Artlink, vol  26 #4, p.117 Jane Deeth

Subpoena, Art around the galleries, A2 The Age, Nov 11, Megan Backhouse

Subpoena, Visual Arts, Preview The Age, Nov 5, Penny Webb

Beyond the Big City, Art Gallery Guide, Nov/Dec, pp.14-15, Andrew Mackenzie

Control-Shift, State of the Arts, p.81, Adam Haddow

Art Attacks, Good Weekend: Sydney Morning Herald + The Age, pp. 221-223, John McDonald

Too Cool 4 School, Silicone Valley, Black + White, no. 83 March 06, p.123, Nick Dent

Silicone Valley, Artichoke vl. 14, pp.111–113, Judith Abell, republished in UTAS Alumni, pp.12-13


Claiming Ground: 25 years of Tasmania’s Art for Public Buildings Scheme, pp.80-81Noel Frankham (Ed.)

Apartment, BroadSheet, vol 33 no 4, Feb, pp.44-45, Andrew Gaynor

Free time, Photofile No 73, Celia Lendis

Silicone Valley, Architectural Review – …andscape (ar) 095, 2005, pp. 26-28, Philip Watkins

Art Notes, Art Monthly, April, Peter Timms

Free time, Photofile 73: Summer 05, p.77, Stephen Rainbird

Keys to Education, UniTas, Issue 289, November, p.9

2004 Island magazine cover

… Visual Arts in Regional Australia, Craft Arts International 61, pp 68-74 Jonathan Holmes

Product Lines/ Inklein artist  page, Artlink, vol 24 #2, pp38-39

No time to Waste…, Sunday Tasmanian, July 4, p.30 Jane Rankin-Reid

 A statue you can’t turn a blind eye to, Sunday Tasmanian, March. 21, p.31 Jane Rankin-Reid


Placemats: a series of fundamental floors, Photofile 69: August 03, p.77, Philip Watkins

Ten Days on the Island with Tasmanian Art, Art Monthly #159, May, pp32-34, Daniel Thomas

Border Crossings, The Sydney Morning Herald, (Spectrum) June 14-15, pp. 12-13, Peter Hill

Art In The Park, Helen Lempriere National Sculpture Award Melbourne,

Monument 54, April/May 03, pp34-35, Katrina Shwarz

Mixing Perception with Space: Helen Lempriere National Sculpture Award,

The Age: The Culture Review, March 26, p. 6, Robert Nelson

Winning sculptor’s dizzy stroll speaks volumes: Helen Lempriere National Sculpture Award,

The Age: The Culture Review, March 6, p. 3, Gabriella Coslovich

Hunt for a $105,000 standout winner: Helen Lempriere National Sculpture Award

The Herald Sun, March 5, Alison Barclay

Winning sculptor’s dizzy stroll speaks volumes: Helen Lempriere National Sculpture Award,

The Age: Domain March 5, pp. 10-12, Mary O’Brien

The Divine Essentials, Helen Lempriere National Sculpture Award,

The Weekend Australian Review, March 29-30, p.17, Susan McCulloch

2003       Out of the Gothic and into the Blue, Artlink vol 23 #1, p.60, Kevin Murray

What Queue?, Artlink vol 23 #1, pp.66-67, Merryn Gates


Product Lines, BroadSheet, vol 31 no 4, Dec, p.26, Sean Kelly

Cut Outs and Cardboard, Artichoke, 01/02, pp. 112-113, Helen Norrie

Product Lines, Monument 53, Dec/Jan 02/03, p.93, Gerard Reinmuth

Art round up: Tasmania – A glass half empty, Art Monthly, October, pp. 18-20, Jane Rankin-Reid

Art Notes, Art Monthly, September, Peter Timms

Glory Box, exh. cat. essay for Product Lines, Kit Wise

Hobart’s L-shaped room, RealTime, June – July 02 No. 49, p.24, Diana Klaosen

Wirja mhux tas soltu – TerraTowel, Maltese Herald, March 19, Lawrence Dimech

Touching from a Distance, Artlink vol 22 #1, March, p.88, Sean Kelly

TerraTowel, Times of Malta, February 7

Creative Thinking, The Mercury, March 10,p.11, Jane Rankin-Reid


Touching From a Distance, exh. cat., essay by Julie-Ann Hall

Art’s more fun with sea and sun, The Sydney Morning Herald, November 7, p.25, Anne Loxley

Sculpture by the Sea, The Sunday Telegraph, November 11, p.121

Sunday Metro, The Sun Herald, November 4, Angie Kelly

Days are too short at the Long Gallery, The Sunday Tas., October 28, p.11, Jane Rankin-Reid

Towel art rides the wind, The Mercury, April 8, p.13, Jane Rankin-Reid

ABC, documentary TerraTowel shown as part of the Ten Days on the Island coverage, April

Maltese Television broadcast on Net Television’s ‘Waltzing Matilda’

On loan from a private collection, Togatus, Feb. issue, p.16, Felix Ratcliff

On loan from a private collection, The Mercury, March 4, p.11, Jane Rankin-Reid


Six = Nine, Monument no. 39, D/Jan. 2000-2001, p.108, Richard Blythe

Six = Nine, exh. cat., interview with Gerard Reinmuth and curator Jessica Ball

Bare Necessities, exh. cat., essay by Felix Ratcliff

Profiles, Art Almanac, August issue, p.105


Undiscovered, unmasked: Artists for a new millennium, Australian Art and Collector Magazine, April-June pp33-40, Edward Colless

Rising Stars in Tasmanian Photography, Photofile No. 56 May 99 pp.58-61, Diana Klaosen

  Liquid Evasions exh. cat., p.28, Clifford Davey

WARP, exh. cat., essay by David Hansen

WARP, Artlink vl 19 #4, p.91, Sally Rees

Do Not Touch, exh. cat., Kelly Squires

Sublime Absence, exh. cat., essay by Renai Stoneley

Blindspot Go Looking, Real Time, Dec. 98 – Jan. 99, Diana Klaosen ACUADS Catalogue