We are privileged to be involved in managing several funds in memory of loved ones that have passed away. Sometimes these come from alumni and friends who have decided to leave a gift to Essex in their will, other times they come from friends or relatives of an Essex staff member or alumni who set up a fund in their honour. The Eleonore Koch Fund, however, had the unusual distinction that neither the recipient nor donor have any connection to Essex at all. 

Eleonore Koch was a German-born Brazilian painter and sculptor. She is best known for paintings that evoke the memory of everyday objects, while also exploring the sensory nature of painting through a tension between colour planes and line. She studied in Brazil, Paris, and most significantly London, where she became sponsored by the art collector Alistair McAlpine for a number of years. She sadly died in 2018, aged 92.

In 2018, we were approached by a friend of Eleonore’s who gave a £25,000 donation as a founding gift to the fund. Essex was chosen to celebrate the life of renowned artist Eleonore Koch because of our pedigree in the teaching of Latin American Art in ESCALA.

The Essex Collection of Art from Latin America (ESCALA) was established in 1993 by the University of Essex to enhance teaching and research in Latin American Art. The collection comprises 750 artworks in a broad range of media, as well as a library of 4,500 archival items and over 10,000 Latin American Art Books.

Thanks to the generous donation in honour of Eleonore Koch, an annual bursary of £5,000 is awarded to a student from Latin America to study an MA Art History & Theory at Essex. The bursary can be put towards tuition fees, accommodation or travel costs.

The first bursary has been awarded this year to Cecilia Vilela Do Nascimento, we’re thrilled to be able to support and inspire the next generation of Latin American creatives.

Cecilia said, “The Eleonore Koch Fund has been a unique opportunity to allow me to resume my studies and steer my career towards the curatorial practice and I am so determined to honour this opportunity! Just as I believe that art itself can, the valuing of cultural studies and practices through initiatives like this can open horizons and change lives - not only of those directly benefiting by them but, hopefully, of those who might enjoy what the due value of cultural practices can bring to the world more broadly. My sincere thank you!”

If you wish to know more about making a gift to Essex in your will, please email thankyou@essex.ac.uk