Special degrees recognise artist, wine scientist

Friday, 24 December 2004

Two major Australians have been awarded special degrees during the University of Adelaide's recent graduation ceremonies.

The December graduations spanned 12 ceremonies across six days (from December 16-23) with more than 3700 students graduating.

Joining those graduates were two worthy recipients of the University of Adelaide's Doctor of the University honoris causa degree, a degree that recognises outstanding achievement.

The recipients were:
· Arthur Ray Beckwith, for a contribution of the highest order to the development of the Australian wine industry; and
· John Stuart Dowie, for his contributions to the spiritual and artistic life of the city of Adelaide, South Australia and the nation over more than 60 years.

Arthur Ray Beckwith

Ray Beckwith graduated 72 years ago from Roseworthy Agricultural College with the Diploma of Agriculture and has since then fulfilled a successful career.

Ray started as a shed hand and trainee wool classer during the Depression, until accepting a cadetship at Roseworthy's chemistry laboratory.

At Roseworthy, he worked under Alan Hickinbotham researching the use of pure cultured yeasts in winemaking. While this is now taken for granted, it was rare in the 1930s: most winemakers preferred to utilise the naturally occurring yeasts found on the skin of the grape instead. His research clearly demonstrated the value of using selected cultured yeasts in the production of wines, and that different yeasts could affect both flavour and bouquet.

Ray joined Penfolds in 1935, where he remained until his retirement in 1973. There, his yeast research was put successfully into practice, and he branched out into research on the role of pH in winemaking. He concluded that pH was a useful aid in the control of bacteria in wine.

Penfolds led by example in the application of Ray's research, and by the mid 1950s most larger wineries routinely used pH as the means of controlling of bacterial spoilage, with extraordinary results. In all his years with Penfolds, not a litre of wine was lost to spoilage.

Ray was not afraid to share his knowledge - notably with Max Schubert, whom he tutored on pH. Schubert applied this to all his future winemaking, and there is no doubt that Ray made a significant contribution to the success of Grange once it commenced production in the 1950s.

In presenting Ray Beckwith for his DUniv honoris causa, Vice-Chancellor Professor James McWha said:

"Ray is not a man to seek recognition, though that has not been entirely absent, and there is no doubt that his friends and colleagues in the wine industry hold his contribution in the highest esteem. In the past few weeks alone, he has been elevated to Honorary Life Membership of the American Society of Enology and Viticulture.

"To say that Ray's research and its application were pioneering is merely to state a fact. To say that he has given more to Australian oenology than any other may well be closer to the truth. His has been a unique contribution to a primary industry of vital importance for Australia, and the international markets in which Australian wine is prized."

John Stuart Dowie

As sculptor, painter and writer, John Dowie has made an extraordinary contribution to the arts in Australia, and especially in South Australia, in a career that already spans a remarkable 80 years, with the promise of more to come.

His first studies in art were in the mid 1920s at the South Australian School of Art. He studied architecture at the University of Adelaide from 1936 to 1940 while working with Hubert Cowell & Co as a draughtsman - and studying at night at the School of Art.

The outbreak of World War II in 1939 abruptly altered John's career. He enlisted in June 1940 and served in Palestine, New Guinea, and at Tobruk.

In 1954, John was commissioned to carve a stone sculpture for Michelmore's War Memorial Chapel at Roseworthy. Along with the 1957 sculpture the Sir Ross and Sir Keith Smith Memorial for Michelmore's Ross Smith Memorial Pavilion at Adelaide Airport, these two successful and high-profile public commissions marked a watershed in his career, inaugurating an unbroken chain of public and private commissions which continue to this day.

His artistic career to date includes more than 50 public sculpture commissions, many of which are truly iconic South Australian art, including:
· The Three Rivers fountain in Victoria Square;
· Alice in Rymill Park;
· Girl on a slide in Rundle Mall; and
· the Victor Richardson Gates at Adelaide Oval

His bronze portraits on North Terrace and elsewhere commemorate many of Australia's, and the University of Adelaide's, greatest achievers, including:
· former Governor Sir Mark Oliphant;
· Professor John Bishop, Elder Professor of Music, who founded the Adelaide Festival;
· one of Australia's greatest jurists, and a former Chancellor, Dr John Bray;
· Sir Douglas Mawson; and
· Lord Howard Florey.

All three South Australian universities proudly include John Dowie's work in their collections.

In 1981, John was made a Member of the Order of Australia for his services to Australian art. Recently, he was named South Australia's "Senior Australian of the Year" in the Australian of the Year Awards for 2005.

In presenting John Dowie for his DUniv honoris causa, Vice-Chancellor Professor James McWha said:

"John Dowie's art, in all its forms, is informed by an inquiring mind that approaches the opportunities life presents with energy and excitement, with industry and intensity, and with a dynamism that would weary a man half his age.

"His many public art works enjoy a familiarity and popularity that few artists can hope to achieve. He is generous with his time and talents, and encouraging of other artists.

"Throughout a long and productive life, John Dowie has blended extraordinary talent with a famous sense of humour and a charming manner. He is a truly remarkable man."


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