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Aspiring scholars seek jewel in the crown

Bella Dower with Her Excellency at Government House

An agriculture student is announced as the Tasmanian Rhodes Scholar, while a talented alumna and artist is still hoping to be given the opportunity to study at Oxford University.

University of Tasmania student Oliver Gales was named Tasmania’s newest Rhodes Scholar last week. The 22 year old, who is studying an honours degree in agricultural science at the Tasmanian Institute of Agriculture (TIA), aspires to find ways to meet the food production challenges of a growing world population. The prestigious award will enable Oliver to study a master’s degree in Development Studies at the University of Oxford.

"The Rhodes Scholarship is an amazing platform from which to contribute to food security in developing countries,” he said. 

Oliver’s studies have been supported by several scholarships, including the Fruit Growers Tasmania Honours Scholarship and the Neale Edwards Scholarship in Agricultural Science or Forestry.

Alumna Bella Dower (BVC 2017, BFA Hons 2018) is a contender for the Australia-at-large Rhodes Scholarship round in early December. Bella hopes to be one of the first visual artists to receive the scholarship.

“I am so thrilled to have another opportunity to talk to the panel, especially about ideas surrounding why artists create and how we can do so in an environmentally responsible manner,” Bella said.

When she was researching the scholarship Bella couldn’t find any Rhodes Scholars who were visual artists, art historians or theorists.

“I want the significance visual art plays in society to be recognised by the Rhodes, specifically in terms of the arts capacity to act as a catalyst for social and political change, as well as how we remember our history and why.”

The 24 year old was the 2019 Artist in Residence at the University of Tasmania’s School of Creative Arts and Media. She was also awarded the Cultural Environments and Heritage Honours Scholarship during her studies. 

Bella is also a finalist in the Design Tasmania awards for a piece of jewellery she designed after a fire razed her parent’s shed, destroying 40 years of the family’s belongings. Bella made a ring from the devastated debris, a reflection of her interest in memory and temporality.

The other Rhodes Scholarship finalists were alumnus Nikolai Sakov (BA/BEc 2018) undertaking honours in philosophy and alumna Charlotte Jones (BSocSc 2018) who is currently undertaking honours in geography. 

Her Excellency Professor The Honourable Kate Warner AC said the selection of the Tasmanian Rhodes Scholar was the most difficult in all the years she had been involved.

“All four finalists are exceptional leaders in diverse fields.”

Image: Bella Dower with Her Excellency at Government House

Published on: 07 Nov 2019 4:31pm