proposed Artist Residency at the National Bonsai and Penjing Collection

National Arboretum, Canberra


I have been a regular visitor to the National Arboretum, and in particular to the National Bonsai and Penjing Collection, for a number of years. I have always considered that the Collection would be an ideal host for an Artist Residency. I would like to offer the following proposal for your consideration, and would welcome the opportunity for further dialogue.

about me



Phone: +61 403 755 672

Address: 4 Bunga Street / Bermagui / NSW / 2546


I'm a full-time studio artist, illustrator and freelance writer, working between Sydney, Taipei and Bermagui. I work primarily in drawing, painting and installation, documenting landscape, portrait and still-life subjects. As a writer, I examine Australian visual culture and national identity, most recently for Meanjin Quarterly and Runway Experimental Art Magazine. I'm currently working on a folio of illustrations of native Australian birds for Little Hare Books to be published as a picture book in late 2018. I'm also currently creating new work for 3 separate solo shows in 2018, at May Space in Waterloo, 107 in Redfern and Pon Ding Space in Taipei.

recent cv

Please find a list of my recent and upcoming exhibitions, residencies, publications and achievements here.



I would like to propose an 8-week period of visual research as artist-in-residence at the National Bonsai and Penjing Collection. During this tenure, I would work 6 days per week on site, to create a folio of 25 - 30 detailed observational drawings of trees in the Collection.

Concept and technique

I would work in pencil and watercolour on paper, on a 300x500mm scale. The footprint of my workspace would be little more than a chair, and would be non-disruptive to the everyday operation and management of the collection.

I am particularly interested in Asian spacial aesthetics and perspective devices, which began to influence my work over 2 separate artist residencies in Taipei in 2016 and 2017, where I also began to investigate my Chinese heritage. I became interested in Bonsai during this research, as an expression of form, temporality and liminal space.


I would immediately begin a dialogue with potential venues for exhibition of the resultant works. May Space, the Sydney gallery with which I currently show, would be happy to discuss an exhibition of the series.

In Canberra, I would speak to my contacts at Nishi Gallery and New Acton to discuss options for the presentation of outcomes.  I have participated in a number of cultural events at New Acton, and held a solo exhibition at Nishi in 2016.

Also, I have recently established a relationship with a contemporary exhibition space in Taipei, where it would be possible to present an exhibition of these outcomes.

Additionally, I would mount a studio exhibition of these drawings at Mister Jones, an open studio and exhibition space that I have been successfully operating in Bermagui, NSW, for the last 8 years.

I would speak to my publisher, Little Hare, about the suitability of the drawings for publication or, alternatively, I would self-publish the drawings as a limited edition.

Public engagement

During a residency, visitors to the Collection would be given access to my artistic processes and conceptual considerations. As resident artist, I would happily engage with the public, staff and volunteers. I believe that art could provide a alternative prism, through which the collection may be perceived, re-examined or interpreted.

Following the residency period, a large audience in both Metropolitan and Regional NSW, and beyond, would be exposed to the NBPC and its objectives through my work.


The Arboretum and NBPC would provide visitors with the opportunity to experience an artist's process, and hence offer a new point of public engagement with the form and culture of trees.

At the Arboretum's discretion, my residency experience, resultant images, documentation, public engagement, future exhibitions or publications may be used to promote the objectives of the Arboretum.

The proposed residency would provide me with an intense and dedicated period of creative production, during which I would explore a fascinating subject in great detail. This would be invaluable to my practice.

The Arboretum and NBPC would be acknowledged on all publications, media and promotional material related to Residency outcomes.


Ideally, a tenure as artist in residence would take place any period between September 2018 and early 2019, and may proceed as follows:

Late 2017 - Early 2018: Consultation with prospective exhibition spaces, media outlets and publishers.

Week 1 of Residency: Orientation; consultation with Arboretum and NBPC; layout roughs; Preliminary sketches.

Weeks 2 - 8: Artwork production; research; community engagement.

Mid 2019: Presentation and/or publication of outcomes as described.


I would seek Professional Development funding through Australia Council for the Arts, Create NSW or other arts organisations / sponsors. Ideally, this would cover my accommodation and living expenses in Canberra during the Residency, and costs associated with the production and promotion of outcomes.

However, I would happily self-fund the project in the absence of external funding.

hosting requirements

As artist-in-residence, I would ask that the Arboretum:

Provide, initially, a letter of invitation and, later, a letter of support if these are required within my application to arts organisations, galleries, art spaces or publishers.

Provide reasonable access to the subject matter.

Assist in promoting the Residency and/or its outcomes to Arboretum visitors and through local media organisations if appropriate.

examples of recent work

1. facing / live art and drawing project

 Live Art Performance in collaboration with Nexas Quartet / Hotel Hotel Grand Stair / Art Not Apart Festival / NewActon 2017

Live Art Performance in collaboration with Nexas Quartet / Hotel Hotel Grand Stair / Art Not Apart Festival / NewActon 2017

2. Public Mural Project for Lonsdale st roasters

3. Guandu Residency

Public Artwork, Community Engagement and Children's Workshops as one of 6 international artists invited to make site-specific work for Guandu International Art Festival, Taipei.

 Studio Works

Studio Works

 Studio Works

Studio Works

 Exhibition Catalogue

Exhibition Catalogue

 Taipei Studio

Taipei Studio

4. Far South

Solo Exhibition an Nishi Gallery, Canberra, in 2016.


5. Birds

Working sketches towards a picture book to be published in 2018 by Little Hare Books:


6. Travel Sketches

 Malaysian Borneo / pencil and acrylic on plywood / 

Malaysian Borneo / pencil and acrylic on plywood / 

 Alice Springs

Alice Springs



Thank you for taking the time to review this proposal. I look forward to your feedback.

Kind Regards, Matt Chun