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2021 Arts Fellows welcomed to University of Otago

Tuesday 22 June 2021 5:37pm

The 2021 University of Otago Arts Fellows Heather McQuillan, Bridget Reweti, Kenneth Young, Lucy Marinkovich and Becky Manawatu

A welcome event at the Hocken Collections on 2 June celebrated the 2021 University of Otago Arts Fellows’ wide-ranging contribution to culture in Aotearoa New Zealand.

Acting Vice-Chancellor Professor Helen Nicholson

Acting Vice-Chancellor Professor Helen Nicholson welcomed the Fellows, saying their work had added significance following the COVID-19 pandemic as it underscored the importance of the arts as a source of support in challenging times.

“At the University of Otago, we believe that our writers, artists, composers, musicians and dancers have a vital role to play in the health and wellbeing of our community – not just the University community or the Dunedin community, but the wider community of New Zealand.

“We look to them to offer us visions we cannot make ourselves; we rely on their craft to generate the experiences that will challenge us, entertain us, provoke and reassure us, and tell us who we are.”

Division of Humanities Pro-Vice-Chancellor Professor Jessica Palmer

Division of Humanities Pro-Vice-Chancellor Professor Jessica Palmer introduced the five Fellows, saying the University was “privileged to provide vital opportunities for leading artists to come and join our campus community.”

“The Fellowships are a clear manifestation of the University’s ongoing desire to support our creative artists and to help the public engage with original work created here on our campus and in our city,” Professor Palmer said.

Becky Manawatu – Robert Burns Fellow

During the Fellowship, Becky Manawatu (Kai Tahu, Kati Mamoe, Waitaha, Pākehā) will write her second novel, which has the working title Papahaua after the mountain range near where she grew up on the West Coast.

Becky Manawatu

In 2020, Manawatu won two Ockham New Zealand Book awards with her first novel, Auē, which also gained Best Crime Novel at the 2020 Ngaio Marsh Awards.

She has written for E Tangata, The Spinoff, Newsroom and The Westport News for the past four years.

“I’m ruined for real life … the Fellowship is an amazing opportunity for writers. I’m so grateful that this exists and that I was given it.”

Manawatu says the Fellowship has also provided an opportunity to reconnect with her southern whakapapa.

Heather McQuillan – the University of Otago College of Education/Creative New Zealand Children’s Writer in Residence

Heather McQuillan has published children’s literature, short fiction, flash fiction and poetry, and is a three-time winner of the Storylines Notable Books Awards.

Heather McQuillan

Her short fiction awards include the 2018 Meniscus/ Australian Copyright Agency Ltd Best Prose prize, winner of NZ National Flash Fiction Day 2016, and her work was selected for three editions of the international Best Small Fictions anthology; 2017, 2019 and 2020.

McQuillan loved teaching for many years and is now the Director of Write On School for Young Writers in Christchurch. During the Fellowship, she was resident at the Robert Lord Writer’s Cottage in North Dunedin.

“The Robert Lord cottage is such a conducive place to write. It’s in the middle of the student flatting area, which makes it an adventure. I have a tiny window out to the world of student life, which may be an influence on my work.”

Lucy Marinkovich – Caroline Plummer Fellow in Community Dance and
Caselberg Trust Creative Connections Resident

Lucy Marinkovich is a New Zealand-based contemporary dancer and choreographer, and the Artistic Director of the critically-acclaimed and multi-award-winning dance theatre company Borderline Arts Ensemble. She is also founder of In Motion: Dancing with Parkinson’s, a programme of dance classes with live music for people living with Parkinson’s Disease.

Lucy Marinkovich

In May, her vision for the Fellowship came to life when she ran a series of dance workshops in Otago for people with Parkinson’s. During the movement sessions, live music was provided by Otago’s William Evans Senior Lecturer in Violin, Tessa Petersen.

In 2018 Marinkovich was co-recipient, alongside composer Lucien Johnson, of the Arts Foundation’s prestigious Harriet Friedlander New York Residency.

In 2020 the Borderline Arts Ensemble performed “Strasbourg 1518” at the New Zealand Festival of the Arts; the work had a repeat season in 2021 and headlined the Auckland Arts Festival.

“I have been the grateful recipient of so much genuine support, warmth and manaakitanga down here in Dunedin. Thanks to neighbourly deliveries I've never been so well fed in my life! As a dance artist it has been very special to contribute what I do so meaningfully to such a wonderful community.”

Bridget Reweti – Frances Hodgkins Fellow

Bridget Reweti (Ngāti Ranginui, Ngāi Te Rangi) said it was “amazing to have time and space to work” during the Fellowship.

Bridget Reweti

A visual artist whose lens-based practice focuses on Māori histories of place, Reweti has held many international and national residencies.

Noting it had been 21 years since a Māori artist was Frances Hodgkins Fellow, and 31 years since a Māori writer was the Robbie Burns Fellow, Reweti challenged the University to "work toward seeing the necessary changes in the Fellowships to reflect Otago’s desire to be a good Treaty partner.”

Bridget has a collaborative practice with Mata Aho Collective, which has had work exhibited internationally, and is advisor to the Trust of Enjoy Public Art Gallery. She is currently co-editor of the ATE Journal of Māori Art and is co-curating the next iteration of Māori Moving Image: An Open Archive, which exhibited over 20 Māori artists at both the Dowse Art Museum and Christchurch Art Gallery. Professor Palmer said through all activities, Reweti has shown a vested interest in making space – from governance to operations to audience – for more Māori to feel safe and brave in the arts.

Kenneth Young – Mozart Fellow

Kenneth Young’s career has spanned more than 40 years, during which time he’s become one of New Zealand’s most well-known and performed composers.

Kenneth Young

Young’s numerous commissions from orchestras and ensembles throughout New Zealand and Australia are performed regularly nationwide and in Australia, Europe and America.

His output encompasses various genres; three symphonies, concertos, opera, chamber music and solo piano works.

“These Fellowships are how we should foster the arts. They are a dream for any composer and an extraordinary opportunity. I’ve damn near finished an opera because of it. To be able to sit back and reflect on your career and what you do now is a blessing. This is a very special time in my life. I love Dunedin and am planning to stay on after the Fellowship.”

Young regularly conducts the New Zealand Symphony Orchestra, the Auckland Philharmonia and regional orchestras.

Outside New Zealand, Young has worked with the Melbourne, Queensland, Tasmanian, Adelaide and West Australian Symphony Orchestras, Orchestra Victoria, the City of Osaka Sinfonia, and the BBC Scottish Symphony Orchestra.

An ongoing commitment to the Fellowships: The Robert Burns Fellowship was established in 1958, the Frances Hodgkins Fellowship was first taken up in 1966, and the Mozart Fellowship was established in 1969. More recently, Otago added the University of Otago College of Education/Creative New Zealand Children’s Writer in Residence and the Caroline Plummer Fellowship in Community Dance.