Supporting Creative Holography
The Shearwater Foundation 1987 - 2004

Andrew Pepper
Holography Program Director 1998 - 2004


The Shearwater Foundation was the only organisation of its type to exclusively offer grants, awards and financial support for a wide variety of groups, individuals and activities which furthered the art of holography world-wide.

This paper details the history of the foundation and its development over 16 years. It began by giving awards to artists, working with holography, as a way of acknowledging their significant contribution to the field. Over subsequent years it expanded its program to include grants for the support of other holographic activities.

Full details are given of all grants and awards as well as reviews of some of the significant activities supported by the foundation.


The Shearwater Foundation Holography Program began in 1987 and was directed by Rosemary (Posy) Jackson [1] known, internationally, for her pioneering activities as director of the Museum of Holography in New York. [2] Her expertise and passion for supporting aspects of creative holography provided a driving force in the later establishment of this holography program.

The First Awards

The Holography Program made up one part of the Shearwater Foundation (which also supported areas of hospital care and modern dance), and was originally designed by Jackson to recognise the important contribution made by pioneering artists in the field and, in so doing, support and promote creative holography world-wide.

Interestingly it did not announce its intentions, prior to making the first awards, and therefore took the creative holography community by surprise, particularly as each awardee received a cheque for $10,000.00 with no prior knowledge that it would be arriving!

During the spring of 1987 an international group of advisors were contracted to the foundation for a period of 6 months and invited to identify individual artists who, in their expert view, had made a major contribution to the field. As the program began before the establishment of a publicly accessible Internet and World Wide Web, their research was based on published articles, reviews, catalogues, books, personal expert knowledge and archival material held in public and private collections.

They were provided with a set of criteria on which to base their suggestions. Artists should have been involved with the medium for at least 8 years, have a recongnisable body of work and have made a major contribution to the field. At the end of their research period advisors provided a written recommendation for each artist and ranked them in order from 1-8, with '1' being the person they felt most suitable for the award. These reports were then collated by Jackson and presented to the Foundation's board of directors who always took the advisors' opinions when selecting awardees.

In December 1987, the first 6 recipients of the Shearwater Foundation Holography Award were announced:

Margaret Benyon, England
Rudie Berkhout, USA (Netherlands)
Harriet Casdin-Silver, USA
Sam Moree, USA
Ruben Nunez, USA (Venezuela)
Daniel Schweitzer, USA

A press release, issued on 31st December 1987 stated that the award program had been set up …..”to promote and further the development of art holography by bringing honor and recognition to the premier artists in the field. The 1987 awards, the first presented by the Foundation, honor those selected artists who have been active in the field for at least eight years and whose work has attained the highest caliber of artistic achievement.” " These artists ", announced the Foundation's Board, "have provided the standard of excellence for the entire field.[3]"

One of the unusual characteristics of these awards was that no accounting for their use was requested and there were no restrictions placed on how the funds should be used. The foundation felt that artists should be free to use the funds in any way they felt would be supportive. Over the years recipients have used their award to extend or equip their studios, purchase materials and equipment, travel, attend educational and professional events or simply, in some cases, survive. [4]

Advisor Confidentiality

During this first award cycle the advisors worked in isolation, not knowing who else had been contracted to the Foundation. Their research activities were also confidential, a stipulation in their contract. They were not permitted to represent themselves as agents of the Foundation or announce their activities during their contracted period. The Foundation has never publicly identified any of its advisors but allowed them the option to announce their own involvement. On completion of their contract, and after the awards were publicly announced, advisors could list their advisory role on their own publicity.

The Foundation felt that working confidentially would help each advisor research the field without the distraction of receiving unsolicited material from artists who, by supplying extra information, might hope to improve their chances of being recommended. This was clearly not a problem during the first year of awards, but as the Foundation became better known within the community it was hoped that this stipulation would make the advisory role less open to external influence. It did, however make their job more complex as it became increasingly difficult to collect up-to-date research material without alerting the artists to the fact that they were being researched.

In 1989 the advisory contract was changed slightly and advisors were given a list of others working on the research that year so, if required, they could contact each other to assist with the swapping of information and background research material. It was, however, impressed on each advisor that the recommendations submitted to the foundation were their own opinion and not a group decision.

Expansion of the Program

In 1988 the advisory cycle was repeated with a newly selected group of advisors. The criteria for selection remained unchanged, however, the amount of time an artist had been involved in the medium was set at 5 years or more. At the end of December, that year, a further 6 awards were announced : [5]

Rebecca Deem, USA
Setsuko Ishii, Japan
Dieter Jung, Germany
John Kaufman, USA
Douglas Tyler, USA
Doris Vila, USA

Again each awardee was mailed a cheque for $10,000 with a letter of congratulation. This amount was originally chosen to be the maximum permitted which could be declared to tax authorities without tax being deducted. Countries and regions do have their own tax laws, but generally it appears that most artists were able to receive the full benefit of these awards.

The awards very quickly became a symbol of excellence in the field and helped draw attention to the pioneering aspects of artists working with the medium of holography.

In 1989 a change took place in how the foundation supported creative holography. Not only were 6 more artists honoured for their contribution to the field [6], but extra grants were provided to events and projects which aimed to further the understanding of the medium. The first of these to be announced was an initial grant of $15.000 awarded to Douglas Tyler of St. Mary's College, Notre Dame, Indiana, USA, to support the first International Congress on Art in Holography. Tyler was planning an experimental conference aimed entirely at artists, which would take place the following year and, he hoped, act as a research event towards the mounting of a much larger public conference. This grant became the first part of a two-year payment [7] and set a precedence for multi-year project funding.

Also awarded during 1989 was a grant of $5,000 to the Artist-in-Residence Program of the Museum of Holography, New York, USA, to enable established art holographers to have access to creative facilities at the Museum. Interestingly, this was actually the third payment of $5,000 made to the Artist-in-Residence program. Previous grants had not been announced. Similarly a grant of $15,000 was given to the Museum of Holography for “General Support” and was announced as the “final year of general support for this institution” [8]. So, although the Foundation had not announced these direct grants in previous years, it appears to have been offering funding in this way since 1987.

By 1990 there was a perceivable shift in the way the foundation was organising its grants. Only three Holography awards were made to artists that year, but funding for other activities was beginning to increase. It was during this granting cycle that the Foundation gave $25,000 to the Museum of Holography for the salary of a new curatorial position. This was the first time a grant had been used in this way and the funds were used to employ Canadian artist Sydney Dinsmore whose curatorial duties included the completion of cataloguing the Museum's collection, research into archival storage for the collection and providing means to make the collection more accessible.[9]

Further Expansion

The Holography Program continued to develop during the early 1990's. Each year a new advisory group researched the field and made recommendations for the Holography Award, but there was also an expansion of the direct grant program, allowing groups and individuals to apply for specific amounts of funding for designated projects.

During 1991 three more Holography awards were made to artists in recognition of their contribution to the field [10] and, interestingly, this was the first occasion when an artist received a second award.

Rudie Berkhout was one of the first artists to be given the Holography Award in 1987. He then received a second award in 1991 and a third in 2001. Artists were not eligible to be recommended for an award for 3 years after they had received one, but the Foundation felt that if, after this time, advisors identified a further significant contribution to creative holography, then artists in this position should be considered along with the rest of those active in the field at that time. American artist Harriet Casdin-Silver was the only other person to receive the award more than once (1987 and 2001).

It was also during 1991 that a grant of $15,000 was made to the Fourth Annual Symposium on Display Holography, held at Lake Forest College, Lake Forest, Illinois, USA .The grant provided thirty scholarships to artists, chosen by a committee chaired by Symposium Director Dr. Tung H. Jeong. This was the start of a long relationship with the Lake Forest Symposia over the years. These grants allowed many artists to receive financial support so that they could attend these important meetings of holography scientists, industrialists, researchers, manufactures, entrepreneurs and designers.

Another project which aimed to provide timely information and discussion on the specific subject of artists' involvement with holography was the Creative Holography Index[11], The International Catalogue for Holography . Founded and edited by Andrew Pepper it was distributed, internationally, as a quarterly publication, each edition providing high quality colour illustrations [12], artist statements, up-to-date biographic information about each artist and specially commissioned, critical texts. It was even able to include an artist produced hologram as one of its illustrations. An important part of the original proposal for this grant was that artists chosen to be included would also receive, free of charge, 200 copies of their individual pages which they could then use to promote themselves.

During the following years grants to an expanding variety of projects were awarded which included conferences, publications, traveling exhibitions, museums, video productions, artist-in-residence programs, as well as web and CD-ROM publications.

Shifting Priorities

In 1997 a major event affected the holography community and influenced that year's distribution of Foundation awards and grants. It was during this year that Agfa-Gaevert announced it would stop production of holographic material, a significant blow to the creative holography community. The Foundation negotiated with AGFA to purchase as much film stock as possible, spending slightly over $50,000 in the process. It then arranged to give this material away, free of charge[13] , to the creative community. Two distribution centers were established in the USA (administered by Tung Jeong) and UK (administered by Andrew Pepper). Artists were asked to fax their request for a box of film to either centre on one specific day and material would be distributed on a first come first served basis.

The project was massively oversubscribed and caused a huge amount of irritation to those whose fax requests arrived later than others. Giving away free film was one of the most complex and contested operations conducted by the Foundation in its 16 years of operation.

As the purchase of the AGFA material used up over half of the foundation's budget and the demand for grants in other areas had also increased, this was the first period that no Holography Award was made, the remaining funds that year being split between 5 other projects.

New Director - expanding program

In 1998 Posy Jackson embarked on a three-year program of professional development, outside the Foundation, and Andrew Pepper was appointed as the new Director for the Holography Program. This was initially contracted to cover the three years that Jackson would be undertaking her studies but was subsequently extended and Pepper continued to administer the grants and awards until the foundation closed in 2004.

Pepper was active in the field as an artist in his own right and had received the Shearwater Foundation Holography Award in 1989. One stipulation, made by Pepper when accepting the Directorship, was that any material dealing with him being recommended for the award would not be forwarded to him when all the files were transferred to the UK, where he would subsequently administer the program. Also he would not be eligible to apply for grants himself or receive funds from events which were subsequently funded by the Foundation, as this would have caused a conflict of interest.

The shift in how grants were made continued to change in response to the requirements of the creative community. The Holography Award was given to single artists in 1998 and 1999, after which it was awarded in alternate years (2001, 2003). However, grants to other projects increased substantially with almost all of the Foundation's annual budget being diverted to this area. One significant grant had been established by Jackson before she handed over to Pepper and this provided substantial support to the Centre for the Holographic Arts, Long Island City, New York, USA. The Center was founded by pioneering holographers Dan Schweitzer and Ana Maria Nicholson to act as a focal point for creative holography. As an established organisation, they were able to apply for a grant to assist with the running of their artist-in-residence program and received five annual grants of $50,000, and a final grant of $40,000.

Holography Purchase Program

One area of innovation begun by Pepper during his directorship was the formation of an Holography Purchase Program, which would allow established museums, galleries or collections to apply for support to purchase a piece of creative holography. This provided an ideal opportunity for examples of excellence in the filed to be placed in significant art collections. It appeared that everyone involved in the process benefited from the opportunities offered by this part of the Shearwater Foundation Program. Artists were paid for the purchase of a piece of their work, this work was acquired by an established museum or collection, it was professionally archived, publicly displayed and presented to a new gallery visiting public which might not, otherwise, have had access to exceptional examples of creative holography.

A limit of $10,000 was placed on this part of the program by the Foundation's board, as there was concern that it could very easily exhaust the annual budget if not capped. Generally the feeling was that as artists were always looking at ways to persuade established museums and galleries to collect their work, they would, knowing about the offer of help from Shearwater, approach their local museum, show them their work and suggest that help to purchase it was readily available. Interestingly, this did not happen on the scale anticipated and the Foundation was able to support the purchase of several works within its restricted budget. Through this part of the grants program work was acquired by the Museum of New Mexico Foundation, USA, the DeCordova Museum, USA, the Butler Institute of American Art, USA, the Russell-Cotes Art Gallery, UK, the University of Essex, UK and the University of Rhode Island, USA.


On 15th November the Shearwater Foundation ceased operation after the sudden death of the last member of the Foundation's Board of funding Trustees. An announcement was posted on the Foundation's web site dated 22nd November 2004 to this effect [14]. This marked the end of an energetic 17 years [15] where over one and a half million dollars had been distributed via 128 grants and awards. Sadly this sudden close of the Foundation meant that proposed grants for that year could not be honoured and the dedicated support that the Foundation had provided would no longer be available.

Financial support is clearly a great asset in any field, but there is another element in this configuration which is sometimes overlooked. Simply knowing that someone is willing to offer support to the field, even if you are not a direct beneficiary, provides an immense amount of moral support - something which is incalculable. In November 2004 a substantial amount of moral and financial support for creative holography was lost. However, a legacy remains. Holograms are preserved in creative collections, publications (both print and electronic) are archived in libraries and servers around the world, new work has been inspired or created by artists who received grants and diverse individuals in the field have been brought together in conferences and symposia. Those who financed the Shearwater Foundation made an indelible mark on the history of the creative process.

“The Shearwater Foundation leaves a memorable record of philanthropic achievement in the areas of hospital care, modern dance and the emerging field of holography - a consuming interest of the Trustees for the past ten years. The Foundation has always done its work with anonymity, honoring the wishes of the four people who founded it. As a result, their names will not be disclosed with this notice. The legacy of their generosity, however, lives on in the support they have given to so many worthy causes over the years”.[16]


Full list of all grants given during the lifetime of the Shearwater Foundation, including brief details of the nature of each grant.
Artists who received the Foundation's Holography Award are shown at the beginning of each year list in italics.

Margaret Benyon, England, Holography Award
Rudie Berkhout,(USA) Netherlands, Holography Award
Harriet Casdin-Silver, USA, Holography Award
Sam Moree, USA, Holography Award
Ruben Nunez, USA (Venezuela), Holography Award
Daniel Schweitzer, USA, Holography Award

Museum of Holography, NY, USA. Artist-in-Residence program
Museum of Holography, NY, USA. General programs

Rebecca Deem, USA, Holography Award
Setsuko Ishii, Japan, Holography Award
Dieter Jung, Germany, Holography Award
John Kaufman, USA, Holography Award
Douglas Tyler, USA, Holography Award
Doris Vila, USA, Holography Award

Museum of Holography, NY, USA. Artist-in-Residence program
Museum of Holography, NY, USA. General programs

Marie Andrée Cossette, Canada, Holography Award
Melissa Crenshaw, Canada, Holography Award
Paula Dawson, Australia, Holography Award
Susan Gamble and Michael Wenyon, England, Holography Award
Andrew Pepper, England, Holography Award

St. Mary's College, USA, International Congress
Museum of Holography, USA. Artist-in-Residence program
Museum of Holography, USA. General programs

Fred Unterseher, USA, Holography Award
Sally Weber, USA, Holography Award
Steve Weinstock, USA, Holography Award

St. Mary's College, USA, International Congress
Museum of Holography, USA. Curatorship

Patrick Boyd, England, Holography Award
Rudie Berkhout, Netherlands, Holography Award
Pascal Gauchet, France, Holography Award

Lake Forest College, USA, Symposium support for artists
The Creative Holography Index, Germany, Publication
The Museum of Holography, USA, Curatorship

Brigitte Burgmer, Germany, Holography Award
Nancy Gorglione, USA, Holography Award
Frithioff Johansen, Denmark, Holography Award
Dean Randazzo, USA, Holography Award

Fringe Research Holographics, Canada, General support, special grant
New York Holographic Laboratories, USA, General support, special grant
SPIE/Holographics International '92 , England, Symposium support for artists
LEONARDO Journal, USA, Publication
The Creative Holography Index, Germany, Publication
The Museum of Holography, USA, Curatorial support

Mary Harman, Canada, Holography Award
Ana Maria Nicholson, USA, Holography Award

The Creative Holography Index, Germany, Publication
Mississippi Museum of Art, USA, Traveling exhibition
M.I.T. Museum, USA, Curatorial support
SPIE/Optics Quebec '93, Canada, Symposium support for artists
Lake Forest College, USA, Symposium support for artists

Sydney Dinsmore, Canada, Holography Award
Georges Dyens, Canada, Holography Award
Vito Orazem/Thomas Lück, Germany, Holography Award

The Creative Holography Index, Germany, Publication
The Photon League, Canada, General support
Sally Weber & Al Razutis, USA, Video production
YLEM, USA, Publication.

Claudette Abrams, Canada, Holography Award
Eduardo Kac, USA (Brazil), Holography Award
Shu-Min Lin, USA (Taiwan), Holography Award

Art in Holography 2, England, Symposium
HoloNet, Germany, Web site support
MIT Museum, USA, Traveling exhibition
Sharon McCormack, USA, Traveling exhibition
Sally Weber & Al Razutis, USA, Video production
L.A.S.E.R. NEWS, USA, Publication
Holographics North, USA, Artist-in-Residence program
H'Ologrammi , France, Artist-in-Residence program

Ana MacArthur, USA, Holography Award
Shunsuke Mitamura , Japan, Holography Award
August Muth, USA, Holography Award
lkuo Nakamura, USA, (Japan), Holography Award

Art in Holography 2, England, Symposium organisation
HoloNet, Germany, Web site support
GRAM, Canada, CD-ROM research

AGFA/Holotest, Global, distribution of free holographic film
Lake Forest College, USA, Symposium support for artists
Art In Holography2, England, Symposium organisation
Eduardo Kac, USA, Book research
Holographic Network Conference, Germany, Symposium organisation
Al Razutis, USA, Video post production

Philippe Boissonnet, Canada, Holography Award

The DeCordova Museum, USA, Exhibition catalogue
Holographic Network Conference, Germany, Publication
Art In Holography2, England, Publication
The Center for the Holographic Arts, USA, Artist-in-Residence program
Eduardo Kac, USA, Book research
The German Society for Holography, Germany, Publication

Susan Cowles-Dumitru, USA (England) Holography Award

The MIT Museum, USA, Archive research
HoloNet, Germany, Web site development
Royal Photographic Society Holography Group, England, Conference organisation
Editorial Arte, Venezuela, Publication distribution
Alan Rhody, USA, Oral history research
The German Society for Holography, Germany, Publication
The Center for the Holographic Arts, USA, Artist-in-Residence program

Editorial Arte, Venezuela, Publication distribution
Holography 2000, Austria, Conference support for artists
The Center for the Holographic Arts, USA, Artist-in-Residence program
Royal Photographic Society Holography Group, England, Conference organisation
Optische Fenomenen, Netherlands, Publication distribution
The MIT Museum, USA, Holography archive project
The Museum of New Mexico Foundation, USA, Hologram purchase
The DeCordova Museum, USA, Hologram purchase

Marie-Christiane Mathieu, Canada, Holography Award
Matthew Schreiber, USA, Holography Award
Harriet Casdin-Silver, USA, Holography Award
Rudie Berkhout , USA (Netherlands), Holography Award

The Center for the Holographic Arts, USA, Artist-in-Residence program
Stephanie Hunt, USA, Interactive online research
Optische Fenomenen, Netherlands, Publication distribution
The Butler Institute of American Art, USA, Hologram purchase

The Center for the Holographic Arts, USA, Artist-in-Residence program
St Mary's College, USA, Exhibition catalogue
SPIE/Practical Holography XVII, USA, Symposium support for artists
Al Razutis, USA, DVD production
Dr. Sean Johnston, Scotland, publication research
GRAM, Canada, CD-ROM distribution
The Russell-Cotes Art Gallery, England, Hologram purchase
University of Essex Collection, England, Hologram purchase
Light from Shadows, Australia, Exhibition support

Pearl John, England, Holography Award
Waldemar Mattis-Teusch, Germany, Holography Award
Martin Richardson, England, Holography Award

Benton Visions, MIT, USA, Memorial gathering
SPIE/Practical Holography XVIII, USA, Symposium support for artists
Royal Photographic Society Holography Group, England, Conference organisation
Glass Studio, Sonoran Art Foundation, USA, Holography workshops
St Mary's College, USA, Exhibition catalogue distribution
Holographic Networks, Germany, Publication distribution
University of New South Wales, Australia, Exhibition support
The Academy of Media Arts Cologne, Germany, Artist-in-Residence program
The Center for the Holographic Arts, USA, Artist-in-Residence program
University of Rhode Island, USA, Hologram purchase

Total amount of grants and awards given between 1987 - 2003

Full details of each grant can be found at the Shearwater Foundation Archive
Many thanks to Urs Fries of HoloNet ( ) for hosting the Foundation's web site from 1998 - 20004 and for continuing to host the archive.

End notes

1, Johnston, Sean F. Holographic Visions, A History of New Science, (Oxford University Press, 2006) pp 345.
2, Posy Jackson directed the Museum of Holography, located in the SoHo district of Manhattan, New York, USA, 1976-1983. The Museum closed in 1991 and its entire collection was purchased by the MIT Museum, Boston, USA, at auction.
3, First Shearwater Foundation press release issued in New York on 31st December 1987. The entire text from the release (and all others from 1987 - 2004) is available in the Shearwater Foundation Archive at
4, Details about award usage have been volunteered by some awardees in letters of thanks received by the Foundation. No official feedback was requested by the Foundation and details are given here as a general guide.
5, Shearwater Foundation press release issued in New York on 31st December 1988
6, A full list of all Shearwater Foundation Holography Awards can be found in list 1 at the end of this paper.
7, A further $10,000 was awarded to the experimental congress in 1990 as the second payment.
8, Shearwater Foundation press release issued in New York on 1st November 1989.
9, Shearwater Foundation press release issued in New York on 1st December 1990.
10, See full list at end of paper.
11, The Creative Holography Index received grants to assist with its production which were spread over 4 successive years. Although no longer published a few 'collectors' examples of the entire publication are still available via
12, German artist Dieter Jung provided an embossed hologram of his work, which was printed into the pages of the Index by Dutch Holographic Laboratories. This proved to be a popular addition and was to be the first of several holographic examples. Sadly the costs of producing and distributing the Index rocketed and no others were included.
13, Recipients were asked to pay a small amount for packing and shipping of the film.
15, Although the Foundation existed for 17 years, grants were not distributed during the final year (2004).
16, Final press release from the Shearwater Foundation issued in Miami Florida on 22nd November 2004.

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