Brisbane, 3 June 2009: The LAUNCH: Clayton Utz Travelling Arts Scholarship has helped launch yet another promising Queensland artist into the next stage of their career.
Established in 2008, the LAUNCH: Clayton Utz Travelling Arts Scholarship is awarded annually to a Queensland-based visual artist or an artist with a close connection to the state who can demonstrate their commitment to artistic practice.
Brisbane-based artist Gemma Smith was last night announced the winner of the Scholarship for 2009 by The Hon. Judy Spence MP at a special function held at the Metro Arts Gallery in Edward Street, Brisbane. Gemma receives $10,000 towards further travel and study.
Gemma's work 'Boulder #2'― a three-dimensional, crystal-like structure with panes of clear and opaque coloured cut acrylic ― was one of 27 works short-listed as finalists for the Scholarship, judged by prominent arts producer and consultant Michael Snelling. The works range from emerging to established and represent a mix of the traditional and experimental, across a range of media.
Mr Snelling said among other qualities, he was looking for an artist "who could display enough depth in their practice to convince me that they had conviction and commitment, an intelligent edge to engage my brain, and technical confidence to pull off what they were attempting".
"It was a difficult choice [but] in the end a choice has to be made and I felt that Clayton Utz' intent with the LAUNCH Scholarship would be wonderfully served by Gemma," he said.
Gemma said she planned to use the Scholarship proceeds to travel overseas to research art practices, with a particular interest in Brazilian artist Hélio Oiticica.
"Winning the Scholarship is very exciting. I am very interested in delving into the practices of other artists ― getting into their minds to see what they were thinking when they created their works. I am particularly interested in researching the work of Brazilian artist Hélio Oiticica (who lived from 1937-1980) and his foundation, Project Hélio Oiticica, is based in Rio de Janeiro. I like the sensitivity of colour in his art and the way he worked between mediums.
"Without the Scholarship, there is no way I would have been able to travel to Brazil and now I can ― which is thoroughly great."
Clayton Utz Brisbane managing partner Michael Klug said the firm was pleased to be able to give a talented artist the opportunity to further their career.
"Clayton Utz has always been a strong supporter of the arts nationally. Queensland has a very active and vibrant arts community and the LAUNCH: Clayton Utz Travelling Arts Scholarship is a way we can make a contribution to that community by supporting some of the state's most promising talent," he said.
"We congratulate Gemma on her win and look forward to following her career."
Gemma's work and that of the other finalists will be on display at the Metro Arts Gallery until 10 June, and then at Clayton Utz' offices at Riparian Plaza on Eagle Street, Brisbane for twelve months.
The LAUNCH: Clayton Utz Travelling Arts Scholarship was developed and managed for Clayton Utz by arts consultancy Positive Solutions.
 Michael Snelling is currently Director of the Cairns Indigenous Art Fair. He was previously CEO of Major Brisbane Festivals, and CEO and Artistic Director of both the Institute of Modern Art in Brisbane and the Experimental Art Foundation in Adelaide, and Director of the Australian Centre for Photography Workshop in Sydney. For five years he ran the visual arts and crafts National Infrastructure and Projects Portfolios in the Australia Council. Prior to this he was a professional photographer and teacher for over a decade.
 Brisbane-based Positive Solutions was formed in 1990 in response to the changing environment for cultural organisations. It provides research, policy and cultural planning, visual art projects, business planning and related services to non-profit, government and commercial clients. Visit www.positive-solutions.com.au.