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Craft ACT: Craft + Design Centre invites contemporary craft practitioners to apply for CO:LAB, a new development program which includes an exhibition, mentoring, sustainability advice, professional photography and an artist fee.

Two artists will be selected for this opportunity, receiving $5000 each:

  • 1 Craft ACT Accredited Professional Member
  • 1 Craft ACT member (any category)

An initiative supported by the Craft ACT Circle of Hands donor circle, the new CO:LAB program encourages cross-disciplinary collaboration and supports creative industries.

We encourage applications from artists who embrace a spirit of collaboration and wish to work across disciplines and gain exposure to commercial environments with other designers and clients.

The pilot of the CO:LAB program will be implemented to coincide with Craft ACT’s 50th anniversary year in 2021.

The opportunity

The Craft ACT CO:LAB is open to professional, practicing craft practitioners and designer-makers who have a demonstrated history of excellence in their practice. Applications are open to current Craft ACT members. Not a member? Join today online.

In 2021, two opportunities will be offered for craft practitioners to work with an architect and their clients to develop new work for a residential project in Canberra. The craft practitioners can work in any medium and be at any stage of practice.

The key requirement is that this opportunity will enhance or transform the craft practitioner’s practice.

At this stage, it is likely that each of the craft practitioners will develop a new light (fixture, fitting or pendant, for instance) for the project. 

This is an opportunity to learn about design collaboration in a real-life application. The selected artists will work closely with architects and their clients to respond to the site and client needs and develop an understanding of the residential architecture design process. A detailed briefing will occur with the selected artists. We do not require a detailed plan or proposal for works in the application process.

During the design process, the craft practitioner will receive professional support including sustainability advice, mentoring, and sales, marketing and technical support (eg electrical advice). We also hope to deliver some professional workshop visits to studios who are already designing lights for inspiration and advice. (This could include Canberra and Sydney studios such as Mud Ceramics, Cloth Fabric, Publisher Textiles, Koskela, F!NK, SKEEHAN, for example.)

A curated exhibition in November 2021 will be the culmination of a year-long program of professional development and exchange to forge new directions in the creative industries. The exhibition may include prototypes and the finished product, for instance.

We hope that this opportunity will become an annual program for Craft ACT based on the evaluation of the 2021 pilot.

To support the exhibition, Craft ACT will provide:

  • professional photography of the design process, finished work and installation
  • installation, demount and staffing for the duration of the exhibition
  • insurance and public liability at Craft ACT
  • an opening function (depending on COVID19 social distancing measures)
  • publicity, media engagement, social media and digital marketing including a video gallery tour
  • a commissioned essay to foster deeper critical engagement with contemporary craft practice
  • design and production of an e-catalogue which is shared on social media and the Craft ACT website
  • printed copies of the catalogue will be provided free of charge to the participating artists, architect, home owners and Circle of Hands donors.


October 2020: 

  • Select architect and residential architecture project for collaboration 

November 2020: 

  • Note – DESIGN Canberra 9-29 November

December 2020: 

  • 11 December - Call out opens for artists to apply for the CO:LAB opportunity

January 2021:

  • Craft ACT is closed for the annual summer shut down and reopens 28 January 2021.

February 2021:

  •  Call out closes 8 February 2021
  • Proposals are reviewed by a selection panel of Circle of Hands members and peers (Craft ACT Accredited Professional members)
  • Successful artists advised
  • Contracts signed
  • End Feb: Briefing meeting: artists and design collaborator

March-August 2021:

  •  Develop concept, seek feedback/input from client (attend approximately 6 meetings on dates to be agreed by all parties)
  • Studio tours – Canberra and Sydney (TBC)

September 2021:

  • Work finalised, professionally photographed, installed in situ 
  • Evaluate the pilot and outcomes to inform whether project will take place again in 2021.

October 2021:

  • Consider architect and project for 2022 collaboration*
  • Call out for artists to apply for the 2022 opportunity*

November 2021 

  • 11 November: CO:LAB 21 exhibition opens
  • Note: DESIGN Canberra 8-28 November 2021
  • Circle members meet to select an artist for the 2022 opportunity*

December 2021

  • 18 December 2021: CO:LAB 21 exhibition closes 2022 call out closes
  • Successful 2022 artist advised*

*if program recurs in 2022

Background information

Circle of Hands

Members of the Craft ACT donors circle ‘Circle of Hands’ agree that for Australia to have a healthy visual arts ecosystem, it needs a sustainable craft sector and a thriving independent studio practice.

Donor circle members include

  • Jenny Edwards, environmental scientist, Light House Architecture & Science  
  • Peta Furnell, craft supporter 
  • Graham Humphries, acclaimed architect, Cox Architecture
  • Paul Kerr, respected builder, Preferred Builders.

Circle of Hands members are supported by Craft ACT CEO + Artistic Director Rachael Coghlan.

Circle of Hands members support our vibrant community of contemporary jewellers, furniture-makers, ceramic and textiles artists, glassmakers and designers. Their engagement and donations help Craft ACT to forge new international collaborations and residencies, invest in artist development and mentoring, and sustain Australia’s high-quality studio practice. Most importantly, their support will ensure more artists, more audiences and more venues can be part of the CraftACT story for many more years.

Craft ACT

For almost 50 years, Craft ACT has been sustaining the practice of craft – locally, nationally and internationally. Craft ACT: Craft + Design Centre is a not-for-profit membership-based organisation which supports artists, craft practitioners, designers and makers at every stage of their careers. We promote and celebrate excellence and innovation in contemporary craft in everything we do – in our retail space, exhibitions, events and membership program. Craft ACT is one of the longest continuously running visual arts membership organisations in Australia, supporting artists, craft practitioners and designers at every stage of their careers. In 2021, Craft ACT will be celebrating our 50th anniversary. We look forward to transitioning Craft ACT towards its next 50 years, creating greater opportunities for this community of craftspeople and designers, and for the growing audience who admire and appreciate the beauty, skill and excellence of their work. 

The architect and project

The practice

Light House Architecture and Science is a unique architectural practice based in Canberra founded on a philosophy of simplifying the sustainable design process to create comfortable, clever, energy efficient homes that are light-filled and light-footed. 

Through excellent design and scientific testing, they create homes that feel spacious and comfortable, and function beautifully, on a smaller than average floor area. Many of the homes they design achieve an energy efficiency rating of 8+ stars (6 stars being the current minimum standard). These houses require half as much energy per year to heat and cool them to comfortable temperatures compared to a 6 star home. Light House has been recognized in multiple awards, including the HIA Australian GreenSmart Energy Efficiency awards in 2020. They are true collaborators, providing an integrated service with an experienced team of architects, scientists and cost estimator, and Director Jenny Edwards is a keen collector of contemporary craft made in Canberra.

The project

Light House have designed a light-footed and light-filled new home in Ainslie for their clients Deb and Rom. Deb and Rom were keen to down-size into a beautiful, flexible, and energy-efficient home for their retirement. The smaller, smarter, sustainable home designed by Light House has a beautiful connection to the rear garden: it will be flooded with northern light on winter days and beautifully shaded in summer. With raked ceilings, concrete floors and custom joinery, the living areas of the home will feel delightful and lend themselves to lots of exciting lighting design ideas.

Passionate supporters of the arts, owners Deb and Rom are excited to be involved in this unique project.

Who can apply?

Applicants are required to be Craft ACT members in order to submit a proposal.

Two artists will be selected for this opportunity:

  • 1 Craft ACT Accredited Professional Member
  • 1 Craft ACT member (any category)


Craft ACT will arrange an exhibition of the work in the Craft ACT gallery from 11 November 2021 to 18 December 2021. A contract and schedule of required deadlines including delivery of works, professional photography and artist statements will be provided to selected artists.

Application process

All applications must be submitted via Submittable and will be considered by a committee.

The opportunity is open to professional, practicing craft practitioners and designer-makers who have a demonstrated history of excellence in their practice. Applications are open to current Craft ACT members. Not a member? Join today online.

The craft practitioners can work in any craft medium (wood, glass, ceramics, metal and textiles) and be at any stage of practice.

Craft ACT works in partnership with a peer review panel of leading craft practitioners and designers to review proposals for artistic rigour, diversity, a reflection of current trends in Australian craft and design practice, innovation and experimentation. Members of the Craft ACT Circle of Hands will be part of the review process. Incomplete applications will not be accepted.

Please note, this is an open-ended process of development and collaboration. It will be shaped by the distinctive elements of the site, the architecture, and the clients – together with the artist’s expertise, sensibilities and aesthetics. A detailed briefing will occur with the selected artists, architects, clients and Craft ACT. We do not require a detailed plan or proposal for works in the application process. We encourage applications from artists who embrace a spirit of collaboration and wish to work across disciplines and gain exposure to commercial environments with other designers and clients.

Applications will be assessed on the following criteria:

Your application:

  • Value of this development program to extending the artist’s practice.

Your images

  • Artistic excellence (eg. Demonstrating technical expertise).

Your CV

  • External recognition (eg. formal qualifications, representation in collections, completed residencies and exhibitions)
  • Connection to contemporary design and craft practice, and mediums (wood, glass, ceramics, metal and textiles).

Submissions close: Monday 8 February 2021, 12 noon*

*Please note that Submittable is a US-based platform, and therefore the expiry date is displayed as mm/dd/yyyy

Applicants will be notified by late February 2021.

The Fine Print - a must read


Craft ACT: Craft + Design Centre requires each artist to enter into a standard short-term contract with the Centre for the duration of the professional development program and the exhibition in 2021. The contract must be signed by both parties before the program commences. The contract will be provided on confirmation of the successful applicants.

At all times, the artist retains intellectual property on the designs developed in this program.

Fees, Costs and Subsidies

The CO:LAB program is supported by Craft ACT thanks to donations from the Circle of Hands.

The artists (contemporary craft practitioners) selected for the 2021 Craft ACT CO:LAB will receive:

  • $5,000 (inc GST) artist fee
  • Craft ACT: Craft + Design Centre will provide a materials subsidy to each artist of up to $2,000 AUD once the proposed works for the project are approved by Craft ACT.

Artists will cover all living and transport expenses in Canberra for the duration of the program. If the Sydney professional development trip proceeds, it is likely that Craft ACT will car pool and/or reimburse petrol costs to attend.

The home owners will make the final decision about whether the proposed work/s will be purchased and installed in their home. If they choose to install the work, a purchase price will be agreed by the artist, home owner and Craft ACT. Craft ACT will take the standard 35% commission on the agreed sale price.

The artist will agree to:

  • Undertake the professional development program for the purpose of creating new craft and design work in response to the client and architect’s brief
  • Comply with all occupational, health and safety requirements when participating in the program
  • Participate in community engagement activities during the exhibition (including a floor talk and media interviews)
  • Make work (craft and design based) for the exhibition
  • Transportation of and transit insurance for exhibition work
  • Installation assistance, if applicable
  • Supplying the work with suitable display accessories including stands, hanging materials or other aids necessary, by the installation date
  • Punctual delivery of promotional information - a current curriculum vitae, artist statement
  • Supply information about the exhibition works to the gallery prior to the exhibition commencing.

Craft ACT: Craft and Design Centre is responsible for:

  • Organising the development program, providing development opportunities, and supporting the exhibition installation and demount
  • Insurance and public liability for the exhibition in 2021
  • Publicity, promotion and advertising of the program.

Sale of works during exhibition

The artist will make all work produced during the program available for sale unless prior approval to the contrary has been given in writing by Craft ACT.

Craft ACT: Craft + Design Centre applies a standard 35% commission on the selling price of all works sold during the exhibition period. If Australian, the artist will supply an ABN or Statement by a Supplier and GST status before the exhibition commences.

For further information, please contact:

Rachael Coghlan CEO + Artistic Director Craft ACT: Craft + Design


We use Submittable to accept and review our submissions.