Inaugural recipient of $40,000 scholarship announced

QAGOMA Director Chris Saines CNZM (left) with Matthew Perkins (right), recipient of the inaugural $40,000 Vida Lahey Memorial Travelling Scholarship, pictured with Vida Lahey’s Monday Morning 1912, Gift of Madame Emily Coungeau through the Queensland Art Society 1912 / Collection: Queensland Art Gallery / Installation view of ‘The Founding Years 1895-1915: A Collection of Queensland’

The inaugural recipient of the $40,000 Vida Lahey Memorial Travelling Scholarship has been announced as Melbourne-based curator, artist and writer Matthew Perkins.

The scholarship, established by QAGOMA late last year in honour of pre-eminent Australian painter Vida Lahey (1882-1968), was made possible through the generous bequest of Shirley Lahey, the artist’s niece.

The 2015 scholarship will see Perkins undertake extensive travel throughout the country, visiting important archives and collections to research the history of video art in Australia. Perkins’ research would document this important history through interviews with artists, curators and collectors of moving image works, and would fill an evident gap in knowledge of the medium.

Generously funded through the Estate of Shirley Lahey, the scholarship awards $40,000 for Perkins to travel within Australia to complete his valuable research project exploring the history of video art in this country, and also overseas to share this research internationally. A recent surge of interest in video as a medium has led to the urgent need to research and understand this area of art history, specifically the history of the practice in Australia over the last 50 years.

In its inaugural year, the scholarship attracted a strong field of applicants including both artists and researchers. The scholarship offers an emerging Australian artist or art history student the extraordinary opportunity to develop their practice or research through an itinerary of national or overseas travel.

‘This scholarship will have an amazing effect on my research. It will allow me to interview pioneering video artists while excavating archives around Australia. The scholarship, in fact, provides the foundation from which my research can grow into a new book and exhibition on Australian video art. This is of vital importance because most people know very little about the history of Australian video art,’ said Perkins.

Melbourne-based Perkins has worked as an independent curator in Melbourne, Brisbane and Tasmania since 2006. He has authored numerous scholarly publications including Video Void: Australian Video Art 1970–2010, and multiple catalogue essays. He holds a Master of Fine Arts from Monash University and a Bachelor of Fine Arts (Honours), University of Tasmania and is currently completing his PhD at Swinburne University.

Vida Lahey Memorial Travelling Scholarship

The Scholarship is funded through the Estate of Shirley Lahey (1925 – 2011), the niece of Vida Lahey, whose specific bequest made this scholarship possible. A great admirer of Vida Lahey’s artistic and social work, she honours not only the woman and her achievements but also the significance of travel in her life and art.

The Vida Lahey Memorial Travelling Scholarship gives one emerging Australian artist or Australian art history student the extraordinary opportunity to develop their practice or research through an itinerary of national or overseas travel.

The scholarship offers a generous $40 000 towards a travel budget that ensures the further development of art practice or research that will make a contribution to an understanding of Australian art.