Two southeast Queensland artists have taken out top honours at this year’s Access Arts Achievement Awards.
Winning the sought after Access Arts Achievement Award for 2020 was Brisbane artist Alexandra Ellen who received the $10,000 award to put toward the creative development of her upcoming show Conversations with my Walker.
A judging panel of industry professionals chose the 30-year-old actress, writer and visual artist after they were blown away by the original idea which explores her relationship with disability through her friendship with her wheelie-walker, named Betsy.
Ms Ellen said she was so grateful for the recognition and funding from Access Arts, because it will give her the chance to live out her dream.
“I couldn't believe I won," Ms Ellen said.
“The grant will allow me to explore what it means to be disabled through honest and funny conversations with Betsy, and create a space where I can merge together my creative and visual arts.
“Being a part of Access Arts has opened up so many opportunities for me in the disability arts realm that I would not have otherwise had.”
Due to the incredibly high calibre of submissions, the judging panel also awarded Sunshine Coast Artist Ruby Donohoe a Highly Commended Award of $5,000.
Ms Donohoe, a movement artist with a background in contemporary performance, said she intends to use the grant to fund the creative development behind her contemporary dance-theatre performance JERK.
Named after the small, involuntary movements experienced before and during a seizure, Ms Donohoe said JERK would be based on her experience living with epilepsy.
“I was diagnosed with epilepsy 16 years ago, but this is the first time I have really explored my disability,” she said.
“It's taken me a long time to come to terms with epilepsy, how I understand it and how it impacts my life.
“It’s quite different for everyone, but this aspect of who I am has informed my artistic practice and my capacity for art-making, and I want to share that.”
Access Arts CEO Pat Swell said the Access Arts Achievement Award, now in its seventh year, provides a wealth of opportunity for artists.
“From publishing books, creating spirited performances, producing music, and designing clothing lines, the Award and support from Access Arts provides the artists with every opportunity to excel,” Ms Swell said.
“We’re so excited Alexandra and Ruby are our winners this year. Their talent is outstanding. We can’t wait to see the new shows they create with the help of the Access Arts Achievement Award.”
The Access Arts Achievement Award is sponsored by CPL – Choice, Passion, Life, one of Queensland’s leading disability service providers.