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Prestigious Laureate Arts Awards Announced

As of today, New Zealand has four new Arts Laureates.

The identities of the four new Arts Foundation of New Zealand Laureates were revealed at a special ceremony in Auckland (at the University of Auckland’s School of Creative and Performing Arts) tonight.

The new Laureates are : intermedia artist/musician Phil Dadson, writer Kate De Goldi, sculptor Michael Parekowhai, and film maker Gaylene Preston. (Note: biographies attached.)

In addition to the Arts Laureate title, each artist was honoured with a cash grant of $30,000, and a bronze statuette designed by New Zealand sculptor Terry Stringer.

The awards were held with the support of the Arts Foundation’s principle sponsor, AMP.

The Laureates were selected for the honour by an independent panel of their peers. None of the four artists knew they were being considered for the honour, and were contacted, “out of the blue” by panel members.

Panel chairman Robin Congreve said the panel looked at many, many names in making the decision as to who would be selected for this year’s awards.

He said the awards were distinctive because they were not being made to people at the end of their careers, or for past services, nor were they for artists at the beginning of their careers.

“They’re ‘work in progress’ awards,” he said, “which offer recipients an opportunity to boost their careers to a new level.”

The artists are free to use their $30,000 cash grant for whatever purpose they choose.

Kate Di Goldi encapsulated the feelings of the four award winners:

“The recognition of the award is wonderful, but the real worth of it is that we can work for a year without worrying about how we’re going to pay our power and grocery bills.”

As Laureates the four artists join an elite academy of their fellows, bringing to nine the number of Arts Laureates in New Zealand.

Phil Dadson is an intermedia artist working essentially in sound, music, performance and moving image. Born in Napier, Hawkes Bay, he is Fine Arts graduate in sculpture from the University of Auckland/Elam School of Fine Arts. While still studying for his fine arts degree, it was Dadson’s experience, as a member of the foundation group for the London based Scratch Orchestra, that hooked him on rhythm and on the idea of making music ‘from scratch’. He founded his music/performance group, From Scratch in 1974 and the group has performed to wide acclaim, in New Zealand and overseas, ever since. (The membership may have changed through the years, but Dadson has remained the group’s anchor, inventor and creative genius). Dadson is now head of Intermedia/time-based arts at Elam, founder of the Elam Art-on-Air radio programme, Auckland’s interdigitate videowall festival, and a co-founder of the Sound/Watch festival series at Auckland’s Artspace. Since 1990 he has received many major awards and commissions including a Fullbright travel award to the USA, and travel and research grants to Canada, Thailand, Indonesia, Hungary, Austria and the UK. His performances and exhibitions include sound/performance, video/performance, film/performance, music compostitions, video, short film, intermedia installations, sound sculptures, and improvisations on invented instruments. The works Gung Ho 1,2,3d, Pacific 3, 2, 1, Zero, Global Hockets have been described as “among the greatest works in any art form to come of this country” (Wystan Curnow, 2000). Phil lives in Auckland with his wife Camilla and three of his four daughters. (248)

Kate De Goldi is a writer of short fiction and novels. Her books reach across the spectrum of readers, from young children to teenagers and adults. She launched her career in 1988 by winning the American Express Short Story Award, and three years later won the BNZ/Katherine Mansfield Short Story Award. Her first novel (for adult readers), Like You, Really, was published in 1994 under the pseudonym Kate Flannery. Her provocative and challenging stories about contemporary teenagers and their struggle to craft their identity both inside and outside the family dynamic, are set in her native South Island, in Canterbury or Westland. She has written three books for young adults: Sanctuary (1996) which won the New Zealand Post Senior Ficton Award and the Esther Glen medal; Love, Charlie Mike, which was short-listed in the 1998 New Zealand Post Children’s Book Awards; and Closed, Stranger, which took out the Honours Award in the same competition in 2000. A Cantabrian, she now lives in Wellington with her husband, photographer Bruce Foster and two of their three children. Kate is now writing a collection of younger children’s stories and her fifth novel (for adults) Monumental Mason. She is a regular reviewer of children’s books on National Radio’s Kim Hill programme and hosted the TVNZ/Gibson Group programme Bookenz on TV One from 1999 to 2000. Her books for young adults are published in Australia and Denmark, and regularly feature on school curricula in both New Zealand and across the Tasman. (246)

Gaylene Preston is a truly independent filmmaker. After a fine arts training, she started making films in England in 1972 as part of art and drama therapy with psychiatric patients. Returning to New Zealand in 1977, she worked briefly with John O’Shea at Pacific Films. She has been writing, directing and producing New Zealand dramas and documentaries ever since. These include: Mr Wrong (1985), Ruby & Rata (1990), and the mini series Bread and Roses (1993) (all three made in partnership with producer Robin Laing), War Stories our mother never told us (1995), and Punitive Damage (as producer) (1999). Her work has won eleven New Zealand Film Awards, including Best Film, and international awards in Australia, Switzerland, Canada, France, Spain and the USA. Her films have regularly been selected for major international film festivals including Venice and Sundance, and retrospective seasons of her work have screened in several US universities. Gaylene grew up in Greymouth and Napier, and has lived in Wellington for many years, with her daughter Chelsie and mother Tui, whose story was so poignantly told in War Stories. Gaylene tells the stories of “things my community and I get upset about”. Her latest film, Titless Wonders, about the emotional journeys travelled by women with breast cancer, recently screened to sell-out audiences in the New Zealand Film Festival. (220)

Michael Parekowhai, sculptor, Nga Ariki/Ngati Whakarongo, M.F.A Auckland University, failed florist and former cub scout. Has exhibited since 1990. Work references big boy artists including McCahon’s abstraction (The Indefinite Article), Walters’ formalism (Kiss the Baby Goodbye), Broodthaers’ conceptualism (After Dunlop) and Duchamp’s humour (Waewae Takahia). Has exhibited in Australia, Europe and the States. Lives in Auckland and teaches sculpture. (61)

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