Stephen Benwell

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Stephen Benwell
Born 1953
Melbourne, Australia
Nationality Australia Australian

Victorian College of the Arts

Monash University
Known for Ceramics, Painting, Drawing
Awards Sidney Myer Fund Australian Ceramic Award, 2010

Stephen Benwell, born in Melbourne in 1953, is one of Australia's most distinguished ceramicists. He received a Diploma of Art from the Victorian College of the Arts in 1974, a Diploma of Education from Melbourne State College in 1976 included studies in Ceramics under Professor Noel John Flood and a Masters of Fine Arts from Monash University in 2005. This medium became the basis of his art practice, Benwell stating "I moved sideways into craft and pottery as a way to find a surface, a form, that I could put my painting onto”.[1] His work marries studio based investigations of the ceramicist with the painterly and sculptural concerns of the contemporary artist. For the last decade Benwell has been focused on ceramic statues, inspired by an investigation of 18th century figurines and the grandeur of Greco-Roman statuary.[2] However, Benwell eyes the classical through the present, drawing on images of athletes from newspaper clippings and video stills, coupling high art with low art or low culture.[3]


Benwell has exhibited consistently since 1975, holding over 30 solo shows and participating in over 60 group shows. He exhibits regularly at Niagara Galleries, Melbourne, as well as interstate and overseas. He has exhibited as part of Australian Contemporary at SOFA Art & Design, in Chicago, Australian Glass and Ceramic Art at Galerie Ursula Rosenhauer in Germany and A Secret History of Blue and White, an Asialink exhibition which toured Asia from 2006 to 2009. He has also been included in exhibitions such as Craft from Scratch: 8th Triennale (Australia and Germany) at the Museum of Applied Art, Frankfurt, and Australian Art 1940-1990 at the Museum of Fine Arts, Gifu, Japan.[4] From August to November 2013, Heide Museum of Modern Art will present a retrospective of Benwell’s work, surveying his ceramics from 1970 to the present day, entitled Stephen Benwell: Beauty, Desire Anarchy – A Retrospective.[5]


Benwell's work is featured in the permanent collections of prominent galleries across Australia and overseas. He is included in major Australian state galleries, such as National Gallery of Australia, National Gallery of Victoria, Art Gallery of South Australia and Art Gallery of Western Australia, as well as numerous regional, university, public and private collections throughout Australia. Benwell is also included in the collection of the Victoria and Albert Museum in London.[6]


Benwell has been the recipient of numerous awards, including the Sidney Myer Fund Australian Ceramic Award, from Shepparton Art Gallery, in 1992, 1994, 1995, 1996 and, most recently, in 2010. He was also awarded the inaugural Deakin University Contemporary Small Sculpture Award in 2009. Benwell has received several Australian Council grants over his career, allowing him the opportunity to travel extensively. From 1984-1985 he undertook a residency at the Cité Internationale des Arts in Paris and in 2008 undertook a study tour of Greece, confirming his interest in classical art.[7]


  1. ^ "Stephen Benwell Ceramicist". Australian Art Review. Retrieved 16 August 2013. 
  2. ^ "Biography". Retrieved 16 August 2013. 
  3. ^ "Stephen Benwell Ceramicist". Australian Art Review. Retrieved 16 August 2013. 
  4. ^ "Stephen Benwell Biography". Greenaway Art Gallery. Retrieved 16 August 2013. 
  5. ^ "Stephen Benwell: Beauty, Anarchy, Desire – A Retrospective". Heide Museum of Modern Art. Retrieved 16 August 2013. 
  6. ^ "Biography". Retrieved 16 August 2013. 
  7. ^ "Biography". Retrieved 16 August 2013.