Bursary Award Winners 2019

Polly Alderton

When was the last time you celebrated an event without taking a moment to document the occasion on camera? In the #selfie age, we’ve developed a knee-jerk reaction to snap and share every special occasion. But what about the memories we’d rather forget and don’t want anyone else to see? In her research-stage project, documentary photographer Polly Alderton explores trauma, memory, loss and poverty. Through a series of photography books, she revisits the 13 houses she lived in for the first 15 years of her life. The bursary will enable her to embark upon and navigate her journey through the complex world of text and image in documentary photography in the context of her own story.


Abbie Cairns

Exploring the way we make sense of the literal world around us through language and location, site-specific installation artist Abbie Cairns mixes mediums to play with our perception. Using everyday materials such as electrical tape, and ready-mixes paint, she maps our interaction with physical surroundings. With her bursary funding, Abbie will be able to take a Photoshop course in order to hone her digital skills.


Simon Carter & Jevan Watkins Jones – ‘Point-to-Point’

Just how different are our different perceptions? Can one person ever see the same thing in the same way again? Can two people view the same landscape differently? Starting on opposite shores of Pennyhole Bay, Bay, the stretch of sea between Felixstowe and Walton-on-the-Naze, Simon Carter and Jevan Watkins Jones plan to find out in a novel artistic experiment. Landscape painter Simon Carter and personal narrator Jevan Watkins Jones plan to document their parallel perceptions of the same landscape. The bursary award will support their exploration through funding for materials and for design and production of a printed catalogue and digital publication.


Sian Fan – ‘Orbit’

What does it mean to be human in the digital age? How does the virtual intercept our mind, body and behaviour? In an ambitious project due to launch at the Tate Exchange in 2020, digital, installation and performance artist Sian Fan choreographs the uncertain dance of our modern existence. Employing a mind-bending mix of augmented reality, 3D scanning animation and live performance, she interrogates the impact technology has on our lives. In her upcoming Orbit, she will use a drone to overlay digital imagery onto a performer’s body that circles her as she moves. Her bursary funding will enable her to buy the drone, in order to communicate this vital aspect of her work.


Simon Keenleyslide 

What does the Essex landscape mean to you? For landscape artist Simon Keenleyslide, the area evokes greater mystery and ambiguity with each revisit. Until now, he has communicated his vision largely through traditional the traditional medium of paint. However, in a time when preservation of the environment and technological innovation become exponentially enmeshed, bursary funding will enable Kennleyslide to evolve his work from the paintbrush to the PC, in a series of digital drawings. It will also provide financial support for him to showcase art in unexpected locations, such as the church on the edge of the Bowers Gifford marshes.


Joe Lichtenstein

In an age of increasing distraction and overstimulation, it’s harder than ever to find the time to simply appreciate the beauty of what’s right in front of us. In his charcoal and oil pictures, landscape artist Joe Lichtenstein encourages us to do just that by documenting the simply beauty of the view from the train window on the Wivenhoe-Colchester route. Unlike many landscape artists, Lichtenstein does not censor the manmade incursions into our natural space: pylons, telegraph poles and cable boxes all have a home in his scenes. The Firstsite Collectors’ Group Bursary Award will allow Lichtenstein to take a series of trips on the train to new areas on the Essex border and fund material to allow him to document the area in order to produce large artworks which will explore the variety of geography the county has to offer.


George Morl – ‘Synapses, sonnets, self’

Just how important is the ability to read another person’s mind, when it comes to social connection? Can we ever truly understand each other? In his self-initiated residency at a medieval church in Wickford, multi-disciplinary artist with autism George Morl plans to explore social inclusion within the arts. Through this, he plans to research into community outreach and the role of social imagination and engagement in the neurodiverse community. Firstsite’s Collectors’ Group bursary will enable him to access the tools to develop professionally as a person living with autism and the means to bring his work to the public space.


Nelly Randall 

What do you get when you combine full-time employment with motherhood? Very little time or resources for your own personal passions. With a vision for how the traditional form of portraiture could be revolutionized to comment on women’s changing role in society, Nelly Randall’s bursary will enable to her access to the resources she needs to bring her creations to life. Subverting the stasis of the sitter’s muse with dynamic and evocative portraits, her work discusses the shifts needed to facilitate real change.


We would like to congratulate all our winners and wish them every success with their projects.


Find out more about the Firstsite Collectors’ Group and the bursary awards