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Applications to Cook Islands Artist's Residency

Pacific Arts Committee seeks applications to Cook Islands Artists' Residency

The Pacific Arts Committee of Creative New Zealand is seeking applications to the 2004 Cook Islands Artists' Residency.

The annual three-month residency in the Cook Islands is open to all visual artists of Pacific Islands heritage living, working and exhibiting in New Zealand. Applications close on Friday 28 May and the residency will take place between August and November 2004.

This is the fourth year the Pacific Arts Committee has offered the residency. In 2001, the inaugural recipient was new media artist Veronica Vaevae; in 2002, the recipient was senior Pacific artist Fatu Feu'u and last year's recipient was Auckland artist Sylvia Marsters. The Pacific Arts Committee have committed to the residency for a further two years following a positive evaluation of its impact on artists and the community.

For Sylvia Marsters, the residency had a profound impact on her and her work. "The opportunity to step aside from my everyday life was extremely valuable," Marsters says. "It was an amazing experience and changed my life for the better."

She had never been to the Cook Islands before and says the experience of reconnecting with her roots and her family has deeply affected her. "Spending a stretch of time in the Cook Islands gave me much more confidence. I know where I come from now. I also found the Pacific Islands community extraordinarily supportive."

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.

The aims of the residency are two-fold. It provides the selected artist with an opportunity to work on a body of work in a new environment. The artist is also expected to work with local artists and students.

Marilyn Kohlhase, Chair of the Pacific Arts Committee, encourages visual artists from any genre and at any stage of their careers to apply for the Cook Islands Artists' Residency.

"We're delighted at the way the residency has built valuable links between New Zealand and the Cook Islands," she says. "It is proving valuable for both the artists who take up the residency and for the Cook Islands community they spend time with.

"The visual arts scene in the Cook Islands is vibrant and there are now several galleries showing artists' work. I believe our residency has contributed to this vibrancy and in turn, the artists we send benefit from an environment where there is greater awareness of the visual arts and greater expectations among Cook Islands artists."

Ngatuaine Maui, curator of the Cook Islands National Museum is also enthusiastic about the residency:

"The Creative New Zealand residency programme has created a greater interest in the visual arts on Rarotonga and in the Cook Islands in general. The programme is a contributing factor to the recent growth and development of Cook Islands art. During the three-year programme, the recipients of the residency have managed to inspire, encourage and support individuals of all ages, and, more importantly, further the artistic abilities of current practicing artists to new levels.

"The Ministry of Cultural Development is proud to be a part of a programme that advances the natural talent, creativity and skills of new artists and current practitioners. It is devoted to strengthening the visual arts and its presence in the Cook Islands.

"Creative New Zealand has played a major role in this sector and through its partnership with the Ministry of Culture it is envisaged that visual arts in the Cook Islands will continue to grow."

During her residency, Marsters held two workshops for local artists and high school students. She also worked on a body of new work, Sons and Daughters of Polynesia, which was shown in Uxbridge, Howick in February 2004. She also plans to exhibit work at the Cook Islands National Museum in November this year.

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