Otago's 2018 Arts Fellows (from left) Caroline Plummer Fellow in Community Dance Matthew Smith, Robert Burns Fellow Rhian Gallagher, University of Otago College of Education/Creative New Zealand Children's Writer in Residence Raymond Huber and Frances Hodgkins Fellow Louise Menzies. Absent: Mozart Fellow Dylan Lardelli. Photo: Sharron Bennett.
Otago's 2018 Arts Fellows were officially welcomed to the University yesterday, at a function at the Hocken Collections.
Caroline Plummer Fellow in Community Dance Matthew Smith, Robert Burns Fellow Rhian Gallagher, University of Otago College of Education/Creative New Zealand Children's Writer in Residence Raymond Huber and Frances Hodgkins Fellow Louise Menzies were welcomed to the University by Vice-Chancellor Professor Harlene Hayne. Mozart Fellow Dylan Lardelli was unable to attend the welcome.
Professor Hayne told the crowd that last night's welcome was the beginning of an important next step in the life journey of these Fellows.
"We welcome them to Otago and warmly embrace them as part of the heart and soul of the University of Otago."
“We welcome them to Otago and warmly embrace them as part of the heart and soul of the University of Otago.”
Also welcoming the Fellows were Pro-Vice-Chancellor (Humanities) Professor Tony Ballantyne and Hocken Librarian Sharon Dell.
"The Fellowships are a clear manifestation of the University's ongoing desire to support our creative artists, and to help enable the public to engage with original work created here on our campus and in our city,” Professor Ballantyne said.
Mrs Dell spoke of the interest and pride the University, and the Hocken in particular, takes in the work and ongoing careers of the Fellows.
“Within the Hocken Collections there are many examples of the work of the Fellows, and the relationships and collaborative creations between them. We will follow your careers carefully and hope to collect examples of your work and document your practice.”
Each of the Fellows told the 100-strong audience of the pride they felt in being selected for these prestigious fellowships and briefly described the work they intend to create over the year.
Mr Smith said he was very grateful for the opportunity to return to his home town to take up the Caroline Plummer Fellowship.
"I will try and do my little bit in encouraging people to move more with better health as a positive outcome."
“I'd like to translate the passion that Caroline [Plummer] obviously had for dance into my own projects and try to spread my joy of movement.
“It's paradoxical that we might be at the height of our power in terms of intelligence but we are also at our weakest physically. I will try and do my little bit in encouraging people to move more with better health as a positive outcome.”
Raymond Huber intends to use his time as the Children's Writer in Residence to complete a book about the biggest, oldest, living things on earth – trees.
“Trees are the green skin of the planet, they refresh the air, renew the soil and they actually drive the water cycle. Trees are the green warriors of the planet, they protect the land, they filter pollutants from air and they store up our damaging CO2. And trees are the green goodness of the planet, they give us fruits and nuts, they give us the wood we build with and of course they give us the paper to write books, which is why I'm here.
“In fact I can't think why I've ignored trees for so long in my writing. I'm grateful for the residency, it's not often we are given such a gift of time to pay attention to just one thing.”
For Rhian Gallagher taking up the Burns fellowship will give her the opportunity to write about Irish migration in relation to Seacliff Asylum.
“I feel a sense of gratitude, in particular to that group who set up the fellowship and the terms in which they set it up so that is was always protected.”
"The people who have welcomed me have been so warm and generous that it made me feel that this is the place that I absolutely needed to be in 2018."
Louise Menzies said she was very honoured to begin her year as the University's Frances Hodgkins Fellow and was honoured by the warm welcome she has received.
“The people who have welcomed me have been so warm and generous that it made me feel that this is the place that I absolutely needed to be in 2018.”
She says being short of time is the hardest thing about being an artist – with so many more ideas entering the studio than she feels able to create.
“This year feels like a time to get those things into the world.”
The 2018 Mozart Fellow, Dylan Lardelli, was unfortunately not able to attend, but has previously said he is thrilled by his appointment, and looking forward to getting to know Dunedin and all it can offer.
“I'm really looking forward to getting to know the Otago Music Department, and a wide range of musicians and music groups in the region.”
Following the formal welcome, Mrs Dell invited the 2018 Fellows and guests to view the current exhibition toot floor by Campbell Patterson, last year's Frances Hodgkin's Fellow, in the upper gallery.