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Sylvia Marsters receive Cook Is Artist's Residency

Sylvia Marsters "honoured" to receive Cook Islands Artist's Residency

Auckland artist Sylvia Marsters, the recipient of the 2003 Cook Islands Artist's Residency awarded by the Pacific Arts Committee of Creative New Zealand, feels "honoured" to be able to spend time in the Cook Islands, developing new work and contributing to the local arts community.

Marsters, who will undertake the three-month residency from August this year, plans to create work drawing on her research and the practical experience she will gain in the art of tivaevae making (traditional Cook Islands quilting).

"The main subjects of my paintings are depictions of the hibiscus and frangipani, which are evocative symbols of femininity and the Pacific," she says. "I have started investigating Cook Islands culture, particularly the making of tivaevae, and wish to honour this traditional form of expression in my contemporary work."

Chair of the Pacific Arts Committee Marilyn Kohlhase says this is the third year the residency has been offered and the Committee is delighted at the way it has built valuable links between New Zealand and the Cook Islands.

"Sylvia has a great deal to share with the Cook Islands community," Ms Kohlhase says. "Her work makes reference to her Cook Islands heritage and I look forward to seeing new developments in her work as a result of the residency."

Marsters, who has taught art to secondary school students in New Zealand, says the Cook Islands and its culture are an important part of her life. Her father is from Aitutaki while her husband's family are from Palmerston and Mangaia.

Born in Auckland in 1962, Marsters is visiting the Cook Islands for the first time and is looking forward to visiting family and "returning" to the family home.

"This residency will have a major impact on my art and is a wonderful opportunity to get in touch with my Cook Islands heritage," she says. "I am also looking forward to taking workshops and sharing my experience as a practising artist with the local community."

Artist Ian George, a former art teacher at Hillary College in South Auckland and former member of the Pacific Arts Committee, is now living in Rarotonga where he works for the Cook Islands Ministry of Education.

"Sylvia's teaching background will be valuable because she will bring a classroom perspective and an understanding of the visual arts curriculum," he says. "We're organising a workshop where she'll work with NCEA art students, and we'll also be involving her in other workshops with teachers and pupils."

Marsters has been a practising artist and printmaker for the past six years and her work is in private collections in the Asia Pacific region, Britain and the United States. She participated in Fresh Horizons, a workshop for emerging visual artists organised by the Pacific Arts Committee in 2000.

Gillian Thomas, Director of the Morgan Street Gallery in Newmarket, Auckland, says she is one of the gallery's top-selling artists. Since 1999, she has had two successful solo exhibitions at the gallery and has participated in various group shows.

"I'm very keen to see the work that will evolve from Sylvia's residency and exhibiting it here at this gallery on her return to Auckland," she says.

The Cook Islands Artist's Residency is open to all visual artists of Pacific Islands heritage living, working and exhibiting in New Zealand.

The Pacific Arts Committee administers the residency, covers the costs of the airfares and materials, and provides a $3000 a month stipend. The Cook Islands Ministry of Cultural Development provides accommodation, studio space and other support while the artist is in the Cook Islands.

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