The studio is where 21-year-old Shannon Dwyer feels at home.

"I like painting. I'm quite a lonesome person and I enjoy my own space."

Soon that space will move to China.

Dwyer's artistic interpretation of life in 2018 has been recognised, as she heads off to China later this year to further her studies on a Prime Minister's Scholarship for Asia.


The multimedia arts student at Wintec in Hamilton draws inspiration from the environment around her and recreates paintings from photographs she takes.

Her work was described by some as "challenging and confronting" with references to sex, alcohol, parties and drugs.

"It's just what I'm around, I'm not involved. I think it's kind of interesting," Dwyer said. "It makes people uncomfortable to see it and I kind of like that."

Dwyer's works sometimes look incomplete, but she has a reason for that.

"I like to have only parts finished. You select in the image what's important to you - like a little bit in, a little bit out," she said. "It's kind of like fractured memories."

Her trip to China would be her first time abroad.

"I haven't even been on a plane ever, which is a bit intimidating," she said. "I couldn't afford to do it alone, the scholarship's there to help me out so it means heaps."

During the five-month exchange in Chengdu, Shannon will complete an arts multimedia paper while learning about the local culture and language.


"I could be influenced by something from their culture or what is in their art. It will just broaden my experiences."

Sam Cunnane, the Head of the School of Media Arts at Wintec says October this year marks a 10-year partnership between the Hamilton institute and Chengdu University in China.

"Essentially the trip is about broadening the experience and for me, education is all about expanding and raising our horizons, looking out to more things," Cunnane said.

"So that's the ultimate end goal of it. Obviously, students are enabled to complete some qualifications there, they do a few modules and learn Mandarin as well."

Since 2013 Education New Zealand has spent almost $9million on Prime Minister's Scholarship for Asia scholarships.

"The Prime Minister's Scholarship for Asia enables talented Kiwi students to enjoy unique experiences living and studying in Asia at a formative time in their lives," Education Minister Chris Hipkins said.

"It means New Zealand is growing the collective skills and cultural understanding required to make a mark on the global stage and show leadership in matters of significance to the Asian region."

But despite knowing very little about China, there's one thing Dwyer is certain of.

"I love the food, I know that much" she said.

Shannon and her work can be found at Instagram

Made with funding from