Keith and Elisabeth Murdoch Fellowship winners 2015

Young artists set to travel the globe

By Scott McLachlan

The 2015 Keith and Elisabeth Murdoch Travelling Fellowships worth $63,500 were awarded on Thursday 6 August to four University of Melbourne graduates from the Victorian College of the Arts (VCA).

Awarded biennially to theatre, music and visual arts graduates, the late Dame Elisabeth AC DBE established the first Travelling Fellowship at the VCA in 1994 to enable young artists to travel and study overseas in the early stages of their career.

Dame Elisabeth ’s granddaughter, Julie Kantor, presented the awards last night on behalf of her late grandparents.

“My grandmother and grandfather believed that young artists need to be able to experience the world beyond the place of their study and residence.  These Fellowships were created to help students from the VCA become artists of the world,” said Ms Kantor.

“I am sure that my wonderful granny would agree that we are all here to serve and I feel sure that this year’s Fellows will all develop brilliant careers and, in doing so, contribute greatly to the life of this community,” she said.

Professor Barry Conyngham, Dean of the Victorian College of the Arts and Melbourne Conservatorium of Music (VCA & MCM), said that providing young artists with the opportunity to travel internationally enriches Australian arts.

“International travel can provide young artists, musicians and performers with inspiration and connections that inform their personal creative development throughout their lives.  This enhances the Australian cultural landscape and benefits all Australians,” he said.

The main $25,000 Prize for Visual Art went to VCA Master of Fine Art graduate Rebecca Agnew. Ms Agnew’s piece, along with the shortlisted works for the visual art prize, will be on display at the 2015 Keith and Elisabeth Murdoch Travelling Fellowship Exhibition in the Margaret Lawrence Gallery (40 Dodds St, Southbank) from 7 to 15 August.

The 2015 Keith and Elisabeth Murdoch Travelling Fellowship recipients include:

Visual Art

Rebecca Agnew (Master of Fine Art, 2012). Ms Agnew, who specialised in figurative drawings and stop animation at the VCA, will use the scholarship improve her craftsmanship and exchange ideas through travel to Asia, Europe and the Democratic Republic of Congo. Award $25,000.


Samara Hersch (Master of Theatre Practice, 2009). Ms Hersch, who specialised in directing at the VCA, will spend three months in Sweden as resident director at Mooms Teatern, an award-winning theatre company for performers with intellectual disabilities. She will then spend five days in Wales at the Hijinx Unity Festival, where Mooms Teatern will perform. Award of $18,500.

Music (two recipients):

Lisa Illean (Bachelor of Music Performance, 2011). Ms Illean, who specialised in acoustic and electronic composition at the VCA, has been offered a place in the doctoral program at the Royal College of Music in London. She begins in September and her doctoral research will focus on tuning systems in the field of contemporary composition. Award of $12,000.

Tamara Kohler (Bachelor of Music Performance, 2012). Ms Kohler, who specialised in flute at the VCA, has recently spent five weeks in the US. In New York, she took lessons and met with mentors and artists to assist in her professional development. She then travelled to Massachusetts where she was one of 34 international musicians selected to participate in the 2015 Bang on a Can Festival. Award of $8,000.

Visit the Faculty of VCA & MCM website for information about how to apply for the Keith and Elisabeth Murdoch Travelling Fellowships.

A version of this article originally appeared on Channel, the Faculty’s previous publishing platform.