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University of Otago Arts Fellowships for 2015 announced

Clocktower clock

Tuesday 9 September 2014 3:20pm

The names of six talented individuals who will take up prestigious arts fellowships and residencies with the University in 2015 were announced by Vice-Chancellor Professor Harlene Hayne today.

Robert Burns Fellow

Burns Fellow Louise Wallace thumb
Louise Wallace

The 2015 Robert Burns Fellow is acclaimed Wellington-based poet Louise Wallace.

She holds an MA in Creative Writing from Victoria University, is the author of two books of poetry published by Victoria University Press, and her work has featured in both the 2011 anthology The Best of Best New Zealand Poems and this year’s Essential New Zealand Poems: Facing the Empty Page.

She has previously taught creative writing at Massey University in Wellington, and also at the Nelson Marlborough Institute of Technology.

Frances Hodgkins Fellow

Frances Hodgkins Fellow John Ward Knox
John Ward Knox

The 2015 Frances Hodgkins Fellowship goes to Auckland-based multi-disciplinary artist John Ward Knox, whose works have appeared in galleries throughout New Zealand, Australia, and in Germany.

Ward Knox, who is a 2008 graduate of the Elam School of Fine Arts, University of Auckland, has also instigated and co-directed Newcall Gallery in Auckland.

Caroline Plummer Dance fellow

Uzoamaka Nwankpa

The 2015 Caroline Plummer Dance fellow is United States-based Uzoamaka Nwankpa who, as a result of an interest stemming from her career as a community health nurse, is planning to use the fellowship to engage in a maternal-child dance project.

Through focus groups, community dance sessions and a performance/art installation, she hopes to raise awareness about these serious conditions.

Mozart Fellow

Mozart fellow Jeremy Mayall
Jeremy Mayall

The 2015 Mozart Fellow is Jeremy Mayall for the second year in a row. His compositions and performances include classical, jazz, blues, hip hop, funk, electronica styles, and more.

He won first place in the Electroacoustic/Multimedia section of the 2013 Lilburn  Composition Competition for both 'Push for Miles' for cello and backing track, as well as, 'Flow' - a fixed multimedia video piece. In 2014, Jeremy worked on a range of compositions and performances, including collaborative works with other 2014 arts fellows.

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

Jennifer Beck

A joint project will see children’s writers Jennifer Beck, from Auckland, and Robyn Belton, from Dunedin, take up the six-month University of Otago College of Education/Creative New Zealand Children’s Writer in Residence from 2 February – to 31 July, with Jennifer staying at the Robert Lord Writer’s Cottage for her three-month portion of the residency.

Each year, Dunedin resident Nonnita Mann kindly provides the Cottage rent-free for this residency.

Professor Hayne announced the recipients at a University Council meeting today.

Robyn Belton

“We are privileged to host these creative individuals, who highlight the role this University plays in nurturing New Zealand’s diverse arts community,” she says.

“I look forward to the prose, art and performances that almost always result from these prestigious fellows, who walk in the footsteps of some of New Zealand’s greatest writers, performers and artists who have held these fellowships before them,” 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.

Fellows thrilled with their selection

Next year’s recipients say they greatly appreciate the time and space the fellowships give them to work, unimpeded, on their various creative projects.

"I'm excited to see what I can do with such a generous block of writing time. But I'm also looking forward to exploring Dunedin and the south, and I'm very honoured and grateful to be following in the footsteps of previous Robert Burns fellows - it is an amazing list,” says new Burns Fellow Louise Wallace.

Her sentiments echo those of John Ward Knox, who says he is “honoured and humbled to become the Francis Hodgkins fellow for 2015.”

“Receiving the phone call spun my head from disbelief to possibility and back again. Frankly the reality has yet to set in,” he says.

Jeremy Mayall, Mozart Fellow, says he is delighted and thrilled to have the residency for a second year.

All the 2015 fellows are planning exciting new projects; Jeremy will continue to develop some of the collaborative cross-disciplinary work he started this year, to focus on some new recording projects, and perhaps compose a new orchestral piece.

John Ward Knox says the generosity of the Frances Hodgkins Fellowship will allow him to devote his time to an expansive studio practice and to undertake sculptural projects.

The children’s writers in residence, Jennifer Beck and Robyn Belton, are planning to jointly produce a picture book set in WW1. With its beginning and ending in Dunedin, the story is based on a former Otago Boys High School student, Alexander Aitken, who fought in that war. Alexander was a gifted young man who brought solace to his comrades by playing the violin, even in seemingly impossible conditions such as the trenches of Gallipoli and The Somme.

Jennifer is delighted to have the opportunity to concentrate on a writing project for three months, live in Dunedin and collaborate on another book with Robyn. They both believe in the importance of working closely together on a picture book.

Robyn regards the fellowship as an honour, and says she and Jennifer welcome the opportunity to work in such a supportive and well-resourced environment that values children’s literature.
Burns Fellow Louise Wallace plans to research conversation in poetry, and create her third collection of poetry based on this.

“I'm also interested in all the off-shoots and side projects that the year as a Robert Burns fellow will bring."

Nigerian-born Caroline Plummer Dance Fellow Uzoamaka Nwankpa says she plans to address prenatal and post-partum mood disorders as part of her dance project.

“I believe in Caroline Plummer’s vision and embody a great deal of passion for dance as a healing resource. Music and dance truly supports my Haoura ; spiritual (te taha wairua), psychological( te taha hinengaro), physical (te taha tinana )and family health (te taha whanau) in ways that I aspire to share with the world using a multidisciplinary approach,” says Uzoamaka.

“As a community health nurse, working in the field of mothers and babies, I have observed the positive impact music and dance has on overall wellbeing.”

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 designed to encourage imaginative New Zealand literature and to bring 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, the initiator of 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 Caroline's parents.

The University of Otago College of Education/Creative New Zealand Children's Writer in Residence is the only residency for a children’s writer in New Zealand. Begun by the Dunedin College of Education in 1992, it allows writers to work full time in a compatible environment among colleagues who are concerned with the teaching of reading and literature to children.

It is jointly funded by the University and Creative New Zealand. The annual residency is for a six month period between February and August and includes an office within the College of Education.

The residency is offered in association with the Robert Lord Trust which provides rent-free accommodation to writers in the historic Titan Street cottage bequeathed by the late playwright Robert Lord. Recent Residents include Central Otago children’s book writer Kyle Mewburn, and Dunedin writers Karen Trebilcock and Bill O’Brien.

For more information contact:

Jo Galer
Senior Communications Adviser
University of Otago
Tel: 64 3 479 8263

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