Joyce Spencer

Joyce Spencer (1928-2019) was an artist who lived in Narrandera and liked making 'things' associated with arts and crafts, exploring the history and techniques of weaving, painting, ceramics and more. Joyce loved sharing her knowledge by teaching and giving workshops. Joyce published five books, with "Folk Art Cards" a best seller among craft circles. Joyce's personal motto was "a creative mess is better than tidy idleness.”


About The Fellowship


The Joyce Spencer Textiles Fellowship is to support a regional NSW textile artist or collective to deliver a new artwork or exhibition. Named after the textile artist Joyce Spencer (1928 – 2019), the fellowship is made possible with funds from the Spencer family and Western Riverina Arts, in partnership with the Cad Factory. 

The Joyce Spencer Textiles Fellowship will be administered over two years; with applications open in June 2020 and June 2021. Each year, one fellowship of $4000 will be awarded. 

To Apply

Applicants who meet the selection criteria will be asked to submit their application via an online form. The form will ask you to include:

  • Name, pronouns, date of birth, contact information, local regional arts board

  • 300 words about your project or exhibition

  • 1 page CV of the lead artist

  • Confirmation letter of where the project will be presented. Eg letter from a gallery, local council, RADO, arts organisation etc outlining you have either 1) a confirmed venue or site-specific location, or 2) that they will assist you to find a space to present your work in before December 2023.

  • Up to 10 images of work with clearly labelled titles 

Round 1
Round 1 applications are now closed. All applicants will be notified of the results on 3 August 2020. Proposed projects should be delivered between August 2020 – December 2022. 

Round 2
Round 2 applications are now closed. All applicants will be notified of the results on 2 August 2021. Proposed projects should be delivered between August 2021 – December 2023. 


Selection Criteria
1. The lead artist/s must reside in regional NSW. Regional NSW does not include: Greater Sydney, the Central Coast, Newcastle, Wollongong and the Blue Mountains. 

2. The artwork can be presented anywhere in the world, including in traditional spaces or outside.

Selection Panel
Llewelyn Tuckett: Daughter of Joyce Spencer
Sarah McEwan: Artist/Cad Factory
Vic McEwan: Artist/Cad Factory
Julie Montgarrett: Artist, Curator, Academic

Aanya Whitehead: EO, Western Riverina Arts

More Information
Sarah McEwan, Creative Producer at the Cad Factory
P: 0405 447 490


Deborah O’Brien Reflects on the Life of Joyce Spencer

For over twenty-five years I had the honour and pleasure of being Joyce Spencer’s friend. We met through our mutual interest in all things artistic. Even then, I was struck by the innovative nature of Joyce’s work and the scope and diversity of the art forms and techniques she embraced.

As an artist, maker and craft practitioner, Joyce was active in spinning and weaving, ceramics, folk art and decorative painting, mosaics, metalwork and sculpture. In each of these fields she took traditional techniques and turned them into something ground-breaking and unique. Two decades ago, I recall Joyce showing me some faux relief pieces she had created using dimensional T-shirt paint on hard surfaces. To my knowledge, no-one had ever done this before. Being Joyce, she most generously explained the technique and encouraged me to use it in my own work.

Even though Joyce often pushed the boundaries in the way she used paint, fabric and other materials, she also had a deep respect for past traditions. For example, she adapted the styles of traditional folk art such as Bauernmalerei and Rosemaling and made them her own.

Joyce’s enthusiasm for life and art was infectious. That’s what made her such an outstanding teacher. She was the consummate mentor, both talented and generous of spirit. In fact, passing on the traditions and techniques was as important to Joyce as creating her own artworks.

For years Joyce taught folk art and decorative painting and became renowned for her accessible ‘Light Airy Fairy’ style which was showcased in several books in the Milner Craft Series including “Folk Art Cards” and “Folk Art Weddings”. She is the author (along with me) of “The Art of Teaching Craft” which was published internationally and became an influential book in helping artists to share their techniques effectively with others. By the way, Joyce was a fine writer too and was active in Sydney poetry circles before moving to the Southern Highlands and then Narrandera.

Joyce was involved in a number of collaborative projects including the iconic ‘Cod Fish’ she designed for the ‘On Common Ground’ festival, an initiative of Sarah and Vic McEwan from the Cad Factory. The fish was cut out of wire mesh by the Men’s Shed and woven with textiles by many helpers.

Even in her late eighties Joyce continued to be a prolific creator. She often said, “Nothing is safe from my paintbrush”, and she upcycled and decorated many an item that other people might have consigned to the tip – hat boxes, watering cans, even a bowls’ bag and a pair of cowboy boots – turning them into heirlooms of the future. Melding function and decoration was at the heart of Joyce’s work. In that respect, she followed in the tradition of William Morris who said: Have nothing in your house that you do not know to be useful or believe to be beautiful.

Congratulations to Round 2 Recipient Hilary Peterson

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Hilary Peterson. Photo courtesy of the artist.

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Australian Sojourn (detail), 2019, Hilary Peterson. Plant dye, sublistatic printing, etching, stencilling, ochre, acrylic, stitching, cotton and polycotton fabric. Image courtesy of the artist.

“I am thrilled to be the recipient of the Joyce Spencer Textile Fellowship and grateful for her bequest that will allow me the time to produce a cohesive body of textile work that also expresses my wider environmental concerns and interest in wetlands. I am inspired by Joyce’s creativity, commitment to innovation and sharing through teaching and hope to further her legacy.” 
~ Hilary Peterson

The Cad Factory, Western Riverina Arts and the Spencer Family are delighted to announce that Hilary Peterson from Pambula, on Yuin country in the South Coast, has been awarded the 2021 Joyce Spencer Textiles Fellowship.

This $4000 Fellowship will support Hilary to present a new exhibition in 2023 at the Spiral Gallery in Bega exploring the significance of the Pambula Wetlands. The exhibition research is combining ecology, history and artmaking to tell a complex story around place.

Hilary has been a practicing artist for over twenty years combining painting, drawing, printing, dyeing and stitching. Her career began as a textile designer, and in 2002 she made the move into creative practice combining her textiles knowledge with deeper philosophical concerns around our inter-connectivity to the landscape and place. Hilary often uses natural dyeing in her work to attach what she is making to place, and fixing it within time.

Congratulations to Round 1 Recipient Dr Treahna Hamm

Image 1 - Dr Treahna Hamm Canberra Glass

Dr Treahna Hamm with her work at Canberra Glassworks. Photographer Kelli Cole

Image 2 - Dr Treahna Hamm WW1 Possum Ski

Dr Treahna Hamm Possum Skin Cloak in memory of WW1 servicemen & servicewomen, Open House: 3rd Tamworth Textile Triennial. Photographer Jules Boag

"As an artist and teacher, I am very honoured to receive the Joyce Spencer Fellowship in its inaugural year. I was first drawn to Joyce's art and story which highlighted many parallels of my own life experiences - being a regional artist, connecting with my culture through my arts practice and having a love for the environment, wildlife and learning. I was inspired by Joyce's openness for sharing personal and artistic skills through teaching, and, the many people who benefitted from the encouragement that Joyce gave during her lifetime." 
~ Dr Treahna Hamm

The Cad Factory, Western Riverina Arts and the Spencer Family are delighted to announce that Dr Treahna Hamm has been awarded the 2020 inaugural Joyce Spencer Textiles Fellowship of $4000. 


In 2022, Treahna will present new work at Burraja Gallery (Albury), Griffith Regional Art Gallery and the Narrandera Arts and Community Centre. 


Treahna has been a practicing visual artist for over three decades. Her career began at Wangaratta TAFE in 1982, before completing five degrees in Visual Arts, Teaching and Education and a Doctorate of Philosophy (School of Education) at RMIT University in 2008.

Treahna's artworks are composed with multiple-layers of storytelling garnered from her Yorta Yorta upbringing by the Murray River in Northern Victoria and Southern NSW. This, along with contemporary practices such as printmaking, painting, photography, public art, sculpture, possum skin cloaks, murals and fibre weaving, allows for diverse artwork creation.
Treahna has exhibited in South Korea, Hawaii, New Zealand, France, Belgium, Germany and the United States. Her vibrant works are in national and international collections. 

Listen to the ABC Riverina interview with Treahna 

The work Treahna has develeoped through this Fellowship will be on exhibition at:

Griffith Regional Art Gallery: 25 March - 10 April 2022

Narrandera Arts and Community Centre: 4 - 29 May 2022

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