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 1953) is a Melbourne-based artist working predominantly in the medium of comprises ceramics. Over the course of his career his body of work has also extended into the mediums of drawing, painting and works on paper. Benwell trained as an artist in Melbourne, Australia. He received a Diploma of Art from the Victorian College of the Arts in 1974. He went onto attain a Diploma of Education from Melbourne State College in 1976 where he studied ceramics under Professor Noel John Flood. In 2005 he completed his formal education with a Masters of Fine Arts from Monash University.

Art Practice[edit]

Through the medium of ceramics Stephen Benwell seeks to challenge local and international pottery traditions and art-craft context.[1] He achieves this through transcending the boundaries between traditional standards of painting, drawing and sculpture, he stating: "I moved sideways into craft and pottery as a way to find a surface, a form, that I could put my painting onto”.[2] Aesthetically, his work marries studio-based investigations of the ceramicist with the painterly and sculptural concerns of the contemporary artist that manifests in how he couples high art with low art or low culture.[3]

Exhibitions and Collections[edit]

Stephen Benwell has exhibited consistently since 1975. His work has been exhibited in over 30 solo and over 60 group shows. He exhibits regularly at Niagara Galleries in Melbourne, as well as throughout Australia and overseas in both commercial and public galleries.[4] His work has exhibited as part of Australian Contemporary at SOFA Art & Design, in Chicago, Craft from Scratch: 8th Triennale (Australia and Germany) at the Museum of Applied Art, Frankfurt, Australian Glass and Ceramic Art at Galerie Ursula Rosenhauer in Germany, and A Secret History of Blue and White, which travelled throughout Asia between 2006 and 2009 through funding from Asialink. In 2013 Benwell’s ceramic work from 1970 and onwards was exhibited in a major retrospective entitled Stephen Benwell: Beauty, Anarchy, Desire – A Retrospective at Heide Museum of Modern Art.[5] Benwell’s work is also represented in a number of prolific permanent collections including; National Gallery of Australia, Canberra; National Gallery of Victoria, Melbourne; Art Gallery of South Australia, Adelaide; Art Gallery of Western Australia, Perth; Queensland Art Gallery, Brisbane; Tasmanian Museum and Art Gallery, Hobart; and Victoria and Albert Museum, London.


Over the course of his career Stephen Benwell has been the recipient of numerous awards, grants and residencies. This has included the Sidney Myer Fund Australian Ceramic Award, from Shepparton Art Gallery, in 1992, 1994, 1995, 1996 and 2010. In 2009 he received the inaugural Deakin University Contemporary Small Sculpture Award. Benwell has received several Australian Council grants over the course of his career, which have allowed him to travel extensively. Between 1984 and 1985 he undertook a studio residency at the Cité Internationale des Arts in Paris. Later in 2008 he undertook a study tour of Greece.


  1. ^ Smith, Jason (August 2013). "'Stephen benwell: Beauty, Anarchy, Desire- A Retrospevtive'". Heide Museum of Modern Art. 
  2. ^ McPhee, John (2007). "Ceramic Beefcake and Other Desires: The Art of Stephen Benwell" (PDF). Art & Australia. 
  3. ^ Louise, Klerks (August 2014). "Stephen Benwell: 3 Vases". Chapter House Lane. 
  4. ^ "Biography". Retrieved 16 August 2013. 
  5. ^ Nelson, Robert (11 September 2013). "The Age, 'Clay shaped into the past'". The Age.