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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 the Queensland Art Gallery | Gallery of Modern Art (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.

QAGOMA Director Chris Saines CNZM, said that 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, and administered by the QAGOMA Foundation, the scholarship awards $40,000 for Matthew 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,’ said Mr Saines.

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 Mr 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.

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