Michelle Cawthorn is a Dharawal/Sydney based artist who invokes memory and personal experience through her distinctive visual language of repetitive mark making. Exploring themes related to childhood, identity, sexuality, and place, and she creates intricate and enigmatic works that meld figuration and abstraction. Though grounded in drawing, her practice intersects with painting, sculpture, and installation.


Cawthorn has presented solo exhibitions in Sydney since 2012, most significantly Bittersweet at Hazelhurst Regional Gallery, Sydney in 2015, and her work has been included in group exhibitions in public galleries and museums throughout Australia since 2003. She has twice won the Hazelhurst Art on Paper, Local Artist Award (2017, 2013) and was a finalist in the Sulman Prize at the Art Gallery of NSW in 2017, as well as other national prizes including the Ravenswood Australian Women’s Art Prize (2022, 2021, 2020, 2019, 2017), the Adelaide Perry Prize for Drawing (2022, 2018), and the Paul Guest Prize in 2022. Her work has been reviewed and profiled in national publications including the SMH, The Art Life, ArtsHub, and ARTAND, and she is featured in the Spring 2023 edition of Artist Profile magazine, Issue 64.


Cawthorn has received grants from NAVA and Create NSW and postgraduate research scholarships, including an Australian Government Research Training Program Scholarship from the University of New South Wales (UNSW). In 2018 she was awarded a Bundanon Fellowship to undertake a residency at Bundanon. Cawthorn trained at the College of Fine Arts, UNSW where she completed a Bachelor of Fine Arts (Hons) and later a Master of Fine Arts. In 2021 she was awarded her PhD from UNSW. Cawthorn’s work is held in various public collections, including Artbank, Sydney.