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2017 Vita Brown Bequest Bursary awarded

Thursday 1 September 2016

Intaglio etching with post press hand inking and watercolour, Sonia StrongVita Ethel Brown (11 October 1916 – 15 December 2012) generously bequeathed funds to Arts Tasmania "to make a grant to assist two or more emerging artists to purchase materials provided always that the artist chosen shall be justified by their work."

As a result, Arts Tasmania offers two $500 bursaries each year to artists who have spent less than two years working in any artform or have been absent from professional practice for the last two years.

In 2017, the Vita Brown Bequest Bursaries have been awarded to Sonia Strong and Ruth Evenhuis.

Sonia Strong is a visual artist and children’s book author based in Kettering. In recent years, she’s written and illustrated two successful children’s books focusing on native flora and fauna. She regularly attends children’s book festivals and events, and has also exhibited her visual artworks across the state. Sonia recently started to explore printmaking as a medium for creating wearable products such as bags. With the help of the bursary she will buy a printmaking press to pursue this emerging aspect of her practice.

Ruth Evenhuis, of Bellerive, is an emerging jeweller who produces distinctive pieces with sustainable and recycled materials. She launched re:jewellery in 2014 to showcase her contemporary jewellery and her work is now featured in boutiques interstate. She graduated from Charles Sturt University with degrees in fine arts and business studies in 2015 and received the Dean’s Award for the Bachelor of Arts (jewellery). Ruth will use the bursary to purchase a vibratory tumbler that will allow her to safely polish jewellery pieces and grow her practice.  

Vita Ethel Brown was born on 11 October 1916 in Mildura, Victoria. She was the only child of a Swedish mother and English father. She went to school in Melbourne and excelled in sports becoming the Victorian State backstroke and diving champion. Vita's mother died when Vita was only 17 so independence came early. She went to secretarial school and worked at different jobs, including one as a wallpaper designer, an engagement that her family credit with igniting her artistic talent.

In 1934, Vita married Jeff Brown, better known as 'Buster', who was a commercial pilot. Eighteen months later with a newborn baby they moved to Tasmania and purchased a farm – 'Landridge' at Apsley. They spent 30 years on the farm before moving to Triabunna.

When her youngest daughter left school in 1971, Vita took the opportunity to pursue a Fine Arts Diploma at the School of Art in Hobart. She loved colour and movement and dared to paint in different mediums and styles. She studied in Sydney and London and along the way met many people who encouraged her.

The Vita Brown Bequest Bursaries provide encouragement to emerging Tasmanian artists.

Image caption: Intaglio etching with post press hand inking and watercolour, Sonia Strong