Michelle Cawthorn is a multidisciplinary artist who invokes memory and personal experience through her unique visual language of repetitive mark making. Exploring themes related to childhood and place, sexuality and identity, she creates intricate and enigmatic works that hover between abstraction and figuration. Though grounded in drawing, her practice intersects with painting, sculpture, and installation.
Throughout her career Cawthorn has exhibited in a range of contexts including by selection, curation, and invitation. She has staged 12 solo exhibitions and participated in over 60 national group exhibitions since 2003. Her work has been exhibited in public galleries and museums, including her 2015 solo exhibition Bittersweet at Hazelhurst Regional Gallery, and Songbird at Shoalhaven Regional Gallery in 2021.
Cawthorn has been a finalist in a number of national prizes including, the Splash McClelland Contemporary Watercolour Award, the Ravenswood Australian Women's Art Prize and the Fishers Ghost Art Award, one of Australia's longest continuous art prizes. She has twice been winner of the Hazelhurst Art on Paper, Friends of Hazelhurst Local Artist Award (2017 and 2013) and twice received Highly Commended in the Tim Olsen Drawing Prize (2018 and 2014), the premier prize for drawing at UNSW. In 2017 she was a finalist in the prestigious Sulman Prize at the Art Gallery of NSW.
Cawthorn has received grants from NAVA and Create NSW and been the recipient of a Bundanon Trust Artist in Residence Fellowship, an Australian Postgraduate Award and an Australian Government Training Research Program Scholarship. She holds a PhD in Fine Art from UNSW Art & Design and her artwork is held in several Australian public collections, including ARTBANK.