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University names prestigious Arts Fellows for 2013


Tuesday 11 September 2012 3:25pm

Five talented individuals were today named as next year’s recipients of the coveted University of Otago Arts Fellowships in literature, art, music, dance and children’s writing.

The Robert Burns Fellowship goes to Dunedin writer and poet David Howard; the Frances Hodgkins Fellowship to Christchurch painter and sculptor Zina Swanson; the Mozart Fellowship to Auckland-based composer Samuel Holloway; the Caroline Plummer Fellowship in Community Dance to Dunedin performer and choreographer Hahna Briggs; and the University of Otago College of Education Creative NZ Children’s Writer in Residence to Auckland-based writer Leonie Agnew.

Announcing the 2013 recipients, Vice-Chancellor Professor Harlene Hayne says the five were selected from a strong group of contenders for the prestigious fellowships.

“Otago is enormously proud to continue its support of the arts with fellowships that have brought New Zealand so many renowned and much loved artists over so many decades,” she says.

To single out a few from the exhaustive list of distinguished former fellows, these include literary luminaries Janet Frame, Keri Hulme, James K Baxter, Michael King and Maurice Shadbolt, the artists Ralph Hotere and Grahame Sydney, not to mention many of New Zealand's significant composers, dancers and children’s book writers.

The Fellows receive a stipend for between six months and one year and space on campus to indulge in their creative projects. Past Fellows have created dance performances, orchestral compositions, poetry, novels and children’s books during this time.

Robert Burns Fellow

David HowardRobert Burns Fellow David Howard says he was “astonished and honoured” to learn he had secured the fellowship for 2013.

“The Robert Burns Fellowship is my exact and exacting contemporary. I was born in 1959, when the inaugural fellow, Ian Cross, was at his desk,” he says.

“Over my lifetime Burns fellows have produced some of this country’s most compelling and, it must be said, eccentric work.”

David Howard is also a winner of the Gordon & Gotch Poetry Award, the NZ Poetry Society Competition, the NZSA Mid‐Career Writers Award, and the University of South Pacific Press Poetry Prize.

David Howard's major publication is The Incomplete Poems (Cold Hub Press, 2011). He also has a long-standing interest in collaboration. In 2004 his long poem There you go was set by the Czech composer, Marta Jirackova. In 2007 Brina Jez-Brezavscek presented her electro-acoustic setting of The Flax Heckler at a new music festival in Slovenia. And Johanna Selleck's setting of Air, Water, Earth Meld was premiered by soprano Judith Dodsworth at The University of Melbourne in September 2009. David's work with the visual artist Peter Ransom, You're So Pretty When You're Unfaithful To Me, will be launched by Holloway Press at the Going West Festival later this month.

Frances Hodgkins Fellow

Zina SwansonFrances Hodgkins Fellow Zina Swanson is looking forward to coming to Dunedin and is “incredibly excited” at the news.

“It is such a generous award and I feel very privileged to be the recipient. To be honest I was so excited when I received the phone call that I could hardly speak,” she says.

“The Fellowship will provide me with the luxury of having the time and resources to develop and complete art works in a full-time capacity. Additionally I lost my studio in Central Christchurch and have been working from home since then. So I can't wait for a year of dedicated studio time.”

Zina’s works on paper and sculptures draw content from the organic and plant world, with a particular interest in varying aspects of the relationship between plants and humans.

A graduate of the University of Canterbury School of Fine Arts, Zina has exhibited widely in solo and group exhibitions throughout the country.

Mozart Fellow

Samuel HollowayMozart Fellow Samuel Holloway is pleased to have the opportunity to focus more consistently on his creative research, free from his usual pressures.

“I am interested in creating work that has a seriousness and rigour, and the Fellowship offers the necessary time and freedom to achieve this,” he says.

Samuel has won a number of national and international awards, including first prize in the Asian Composers League Young Composer Competition in 2007. His work has been performed by many prominent artists and ensembles, including the New Zealand Symphony Orchestra, the NZTrio, Stroma and the BBC Scottish Symphony Orchestra.



Caroline Plummer Dance Fellow

Hahna BriggsCaroline Plummer Dance Fellow Hahna Briggs says winning the Fellowship was always one of her personal goals and she is delighted to have achieved it. She has danced in performances by two previous Caroline Plummer Fellows - Suzanne Cowan's 'House of Memories' (2010), and Lyne Pringle's 'Ocean Wave' (2011).

“The Caroline Plummer Fellowship emphasises the many connections between dance and the community. It removes dance from the 'stage', as something that is unattainable to most people, and reminds us that dance actually interweaves with community, culture and society, and is something all people can actively engage in,” she says.

Hahna has a Bachelor of Physical Education (Otago), a Postgraduate Diploma in Rehabilitation (Massey) and a Masters in Dance Studies (Otago). Her works include: dancer for “Done to Perfection ', Weave Movement Theatre, Victoria, Australia (2012); and “Dances About Love” (2011) in collaboration with local dance practitioner Lisa Wilkinson.

University of Otago College of Education/Creative New Zealand Children’s Writer in Residence

Leonie AgnewUniversity of Otago College of Education/Creative New Zealand Children’s Writer in Residence Leonie Agnew says the residency is important to help her complete her writing projects.

“It’s difficult to place a value on mental space, the freedom to write when and where I feel like it. I’m extremely pleased,” she says.

She is looking forward to what will be her first visit to Dunedin, and to living in a place which has its own chocolate factory.

“Everyone who's lived there keeps telling me the people are friendly and I'm looking forward to that. I've also been told by many people that it's quite an atmospheric place, especially in winter, and that it could add an extra layer of inspiration to my writing,” she says.

Leonie is fresh from success at the NZ Post Book Awards, where she won the Junior Fiction Prize, the Best New Book award and the Children's Choice Award for the Junior Fiction section with her book Super Finn. This children’s book also won the Storylines Tom Fitzgibbon Award.

About the Fellowships:

The Robert Burns Fellowship is New Zealand's premier literary residency. The Fellowship was established in 1958 to commemorate the bicentenary of the birth of Robert Burns, and it is aimed to encourage imaginative New Zealand literature and to bring gifted writers to the University. Past fellows include Janet Frame, Roger Hall, Keri Hulme, James K. Baxter, Maurice Shadbolt, Michael King, Ian Cross, Owen Marshall, Ruth Dallas, James Norcliffe, David Eggleton, Sarah Quigley and Sue Wootton.

Charles Brasch, who did much to establish the Fellowship, once wrote: “Part of a university's proper business is to act as nurse to the arts, or, more exactly, to the imagination as it expresses itself in the arts and sciences. Imagination may flourish anywhere. But it should flourish as a matter of course in the university, for it is only through imaginative thinking that society grows, materially and intellectually.” (Landfall, March 1959).

The Frances Hodgkins Fellowship, named after one of New Zealand's most distinguished artists, was established in 1962 to aid and encourage painters, sculptors and other artists and to foster an interest in the arts in the University. Past winners include Ralph Hotere, Grahame Sydney, Marilynn Webb, Fiona Pardington, Shane Cotton and Heather Straka.

The Mozart Fellowship was established by the University of Otago in 1969. The purpose of the Fellowship is to aid and encourage composers and performers of music in the practice and advancement of their art, to associate them with the life of the University and to foster an interest in contemporary music. Mozart Fellows often produce a concert of their works during their Fellowship year. Successful applicants include many of New Zealand's significant composers, including John Rimmer, Anthony Ritchie, Gillian Whitehead and Christopher Watson.

The Caroline Plummer Fellowship in Community Dance was established in 2003 and honours Caroline Plummer (1978-2003). Caroline completed a Bachelor of Arts in Anthropology and a Diploma for Graduates in Dance, and was awarded the University of Otago Prestige Scholarship in Arts. The Fellowship acknowledges Caroline's passion for dance and her vision for community dance in New Zealand. It was made possible by a Memorial Trust set up by her parents.

University of Otago College of Education Creative New Zealand Children’s Writer in Residence
The residency, which has run at the College since 1992, provides for a writer to work fulltime for six months in a College of Education environment. It is jointly funded by Creative New Zealand and the University of Otago.

Previous recipients include Bill O’Brien, Vincent Ford, David Hill, Katerina Mataira and Paula Boock.

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