Denise Beckwith is a documentary photographer and artist for Blur Projects. Denise uses traditional documentary photography in her practice, and has curated several of Blur Projects exhibitions. She is also the Diversity and Inclusion Consultant for Blur Projects. Denise has a Bachelor of Social Work Honours and is currently undertaking a PhD within the School of Social Sciences and Psychology at Western Sydney University, using PhotoVoice to explore the sexual identity of women with disability. Denise’s career as a disability advocate spans 15 years including roles with both People with Disability Australia (PWDA) and the NSW Mental Health Advocacy Service. During her time at PWDA Denise had the opportunity to attend the United Nations, New York to observe the formation of the Committee on the Rights of Persons with Disability in 2005. Denise identifies as a person with physical disability.
For nine years, Denise held various roles including Vice President for Touching Base an advocacy organisation for the sexual rights of people with disability and the rights of sex workers, two equally marginalised communities. Denise is a member of Women With Disabilities Australia and a member of the Australian National Committee for UN Women.
Denise sees artistic endeavors such as photography as a tool of social activism and advocacy, framing people’s stories, allowing them to share their insights, knowledge and experiences to create social change. Since 2013, Denise has been undertaking a Denise was a participant in one of Belinda Mason’s photographic exhibitions Intimate Encounters which challenges sexuality body image and intimacy of and for people with disability.
In 2015 – 18, Denise worked with artist Belinda Mason, videographer Dieter Knierim and Curator Kon Gouriotis OAM to create the mutli-media exhibition Silent Tears, which was funded by the Australia Council for the Arts and the Department of Prime Minister and Cabinet. The project was developed in collaboration with the participants who are women with disabilities who have experienced violence or women who have acquired their disability as a direct result of violence. The Australian component of the exhibition was launched in Australia at the Ballarat International Foto Biennale in August 2015. In both 2016 and 2018, the exhibition then travelled to New York to be a part of the United Nations Commission on the Status of Women in New York. Denise and Belinda produced a presentation for the United Nations in Geneva about the project with the support of CBM International at the Committee on the Rights of People with Disability in 2016.
Additionally, as a Paralympian, she represented Australia at the 2000 Sydney Paralympic Games in the sport of swimming. She was a member of the 4 x 50m Freestyle Relay team that won the bronze medal. Denise has a Bachelor of Science, majoring in Chemistry from University of Canberra 2001, and a Bachelor of Theology from Australian National University 1998.