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Recipient of first curatorial internship announced

18 February 2005

Recipient of first curatorial internship announced

"a significant milestone for the craft/object art sector"

Auckland jeweller, writer, curator and teacher Grant Thompson is the inaugural curatorial intern in decorative arts and design, and is working with Dowse staff and the Blumhardt Foundation to research and develop the first exhibition for the new Blumhardt Gallery at The Dowse in Lower Hutt when it opens in late 2006.

The annual curatorial internship is the result of a partnership between The Dowse, the Blumhardt Foundation and Creative New Zealand.

Thompson, who is currently Programme Leader, Contextual Studies at the Manukau School of Visual Arts, also maintains his own active exhibition and writing practice. He trained as a jeweller and later completed a Master of Fine Arts from the Otago Polytechnic School of Art.

Creative New Zealand's support for the internship includes $15,000, which provides the selected intern with a curatorial stipend, travel and other costs. Chief Executive Elizabeth Kerr says the appointment of the inaugural intern represents "a significant milestone for the craft/object art sector".

The need for professional development opportunities for New Zealand curators was identified as a priority in a strategy for the craft/object art sector, developed by Creative New Zealand in close consultation with the sector.

"This is the first curatorial internship available in New Zealand for the craft/object art sector and we're delighted to be working with The Dowse and the Blumhardt Foundation to support this important initiative," Miss Kerr says.

For Thompson, the internship offers him the opportunity to develop new knowledge and skills. "My interest in applying for the internship arose from developments in my own practice. My preference for materials has always been the 'found'. My early work modified common found natural materials to produce jewellery. More recent work uses large quantities of found manufactured items to explore notions of the decorative and ornamental.

"The curator's task - the collection, selection and arrangement of objects - seems to me a further development of my methodology."

The Blumhardt Foundation was established by acclaimed New Zealand potter and educator Doreen Blumhardt last year to support and develop decorative arts and design in New Zealand.
Blumhardt Foundation trustee Justine Olsen says that the Foundation established a partnership with The Dowse to set up a gallery dedicated to decorative arts and design.

"We'll also be building a focussed collection and developing education programmes," she said. "The internship is an important part of fulfilling Doreen's vision that decorative art and design, in their widest sense, are nurtured and supported in New Zealand."

Two other recommendations in Creative New Zealand's craft/object art strategy have also been implemented. They are:

* support for individual practitioners, which includes the annual $65,000 Creative New Zealand Craft/Object Art Fellowship. Last year's inaugural recipient was Malcolm Harrison.

* the establishment of a non-commercial exhibition space dedicated to craft/object art. Objectspace was opened in Auckland early last year to promote New Zealand craft and design, and provide an exhibition space for the sector. Creative New Zealand supports Objectspace with annual funding for its programme of activities - $130,000 for 2005.


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