UWS Performance Artist wins Major Scholarship

Date: 26/08/2002

A University of Western Sydney student has received a valuable boost into the world of professional performance art, by winning a prestigious scholarship award.

23 year old BA Fine Arts Honours student Ben Denham has been awarded this year's Helen Lempriere Travelling Art Scholarship for emerging artists, valued at $40,000, and funded by the Helen Lempriere Bequest. The scholarship, administered by the NSW Ministry for the Arts, is the only one of its type in Australia which enables young artists to study overseas.

The selection committee says Ben's entry for this year's award "stood out in the field". The Wentworth Falls student submitted video taped performances, which relied heavily on writing and language.

In one piece, Ben writes mirror image words on a large sheet of paper, holding two pens in each hand. Other performances see him tearing his way out of a cardboard enclosure, using microphones and speakers to make the sound of his escape more realistic for the audience.

"I often practice my writing performances on the train on my way home from uni. It's a productive space to work in, because it's so dynamic, with passengers constantly getting on and off. The changing environment creates a new aspect to my work."

"Most people will stop what they're doing to watch because of curiosity, and that's the exact response I'm seeking," Ben Denham says.

Ben says he'll use the Scholarship to realise his dream of studying in Mexico City, with renowned performance artist Francis Alys. Much of Alys' work is centred on city walks.

"Francis is probably one of the most respected performance artists of his type in the world, and I'm sure I'll learn a lot from him," Ben says.

He says the structure of the Fine Arts courses at UWS has been crucial in the development of his study.

"I'm encouraged to move into areas relevant to what I want to do, with strong guidance from lecturers and tutors. The course is flexible, in that I can set my own path," Ben says.

In previous years, the Helen Lempriere Travelling Art Scholarship has been awarded to some of Australia's outstanding young artists, such as Lin Li, Maria Ionico and Monika Tichacek. UWS hopes the award will allow Ben Denham to excel in his field, and become one of the world's top performance artists.

For more information, or interview requests, contact:
Angela McIntyre
Senior Media Officer
University of Western Sydney
(Ph) 02-9678 7424
0419 244 595
Email: a.mcintyre@uws.edu.au