University of Western Australia: New creative fellowships to support arts sector

Two of Western Australia’s leading arts practitioners have been awarded creative research fellowships as part of a new program to encourage arts and humanities professionals to pursue further study in their areas of interest.

Elham Eshraghian-Haakansson and Dr Jo Pollitt have been named inaugural recipients of Forrest Research Foundation’s Creative and Performance Leadership Fellowships.

A Fine Arts graduate from The University of Western Australia, as well as award-winning Iranian-Australian Bahai video artist, research director and researcher, Ms Eshraghian-Haakansson has exhibited her work nationally and internationally.

Working in community arts and collaborative social practice, she examines empathy in film-poems, uncovering ways to build identity in first and second generation Iranian-Australians and the Bahá’í community.

For her fellowship Ms Eshraghian-Haakansson will explore new ground in digital media, particularly in the area of virtual reality, looking at the techniques and methods needed to help audiences to become co-authors of her work, rather than just passive bystanders.

She will be working in collaboration with creative arts therapist Cara Phillips, Dr Ionat Zurr (UWA School of Design), Immerse Australia and Dr. Jason Eshraghian, with the support of Spaced, as part of the Know Thy Neighbour #3 Program.

Dr Pollitt is a senior research fellow in the School of Education and a lecturer in dance improvisation at the Western Australian Academy of Performing Arts. Through her fellowship, she will bring together artists, scientists and educators to enable more nuanced and deeply felt relations with the natural world in response to environmental crises.

Since Forrest Research Foundation was founded in 2014, many of the applicants for Forrest Scholarships and Fellowships have been from traditional STEM backgrounds. The new fellowship program has been designed to offer a route to nurture the artistic talents and research leadership skills of those working in the arts and creative sector.

Construction is currently under way on the second building as part of the Forrest Hall Precinct. The completed precinct will be an activated and accessible location, not only for Forrest Reseach Foundation scholars and fellows, but for the broader local community and the State.

Once completed the precinct will include both student and short-stay accommodation facilities, food and beverage offerings and office space. It’s hoped the research precinct will transform into a vibrant hub, with regular community events and activities to promote the inspirational work of the scholars, increasing the reputation and philanthropic impact of the Forrest Research Foundation.

Following the completion of a competitive tender process, negotiations are currently under way to appoint an experienced hotel operator to manage the short-stay accommodation facilities. Members of the public including visitors and members of the University and Forrest Research Foundation community will be able to book accommodation.

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