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Fellowship recipient’s exhibition at Objectspace

Media release
To: Arts Reporters
Date: 22 April 2004

Fellowship recipient’s exhibition
opens at Objectspace

Acclaimed Waiheke Island artist Malcolm Harrison’s installation, Minus Reason, opening tonight at Auckland gallery Objectspace, is a celebration of the work he’s created as the inaugural recipient of the 2004 Creative New Zealand Craft/Object Art Fellowship.

The installation, a series of fibre works, deals with the folly of acting without reason. It was spurred, in particular, by recent events in Afghanistan and Iraq. Harrison said the subject matter pushed him to experiment with the form.

“It’s like a newspaper. It’s various aspects of the whole thing - parts of human existence that happen without reason,” he said.

A starting point for the exhibition, which runs until 21 May, was Francisco Goya’s famous etching, The Dream of Reason Produces Monsters. This work portrays an artist sleeping at his desk surrounded by looming creatures of the night.

Alastair Carruthers, Chair of the Arts Board of Creative New Zealand, opened the exhibition and described it as a major body of work by a senior artist.

“The Creative New Zealand Craft/Object Art Fellowship gave Malcolm two commodities vital for an artist: the time and resources to focus on creating new work. He was the inaugural recipient of this major fellowship and it’s wonderful to see such impressive results.”

Harrison’s work features in public and private collections throughout New Zealand, Australia and the United States. In 1994, he was commissioned by the Parliamentary Service Commission to design and create two works. Matter of Pride is the largest public artwork commissioned in New Zealand while the wall hanging Whanaungatanga (Relationships) involved him in working with four Mâori weavers and more than 700 embroiderers from 52 embroidery guilds.

For Harrison, receiving the $65,000 Creative New Zealand Craft /Object Art Fellowship has allowed him to continue pushing the boundaries of his work. “Once you get on a roll it just keeps getting bigger. With the resources to do the job, you can keep on that roll,” he said.

The Creative New Zealand Craft/Object Art Fellowship was established last year in response to recommendations in a strategy for the craft/object art sector, developed by Creative New Zealand in close consultation with the sector. Aimed at mid-career and senior practitioners, the annual fellowship is available to artists, writers and curators. Applications to this year’s fellowship have closed and the recipient will be announced in mid-2005.

Mr Carruthers said the Arts Board was delighted to see the fruition of one of the strategy’s recommendations: support for individual practitioners. Two other recommendations in the strategy include support for a non-commercial exhibition space dedicated to craft/object art and professional development opportunities for curators.

Objectspace opened its doors in Ponsonby, Auckland early last year. Established to promote New Zealand craft and design and provide an exhibition space for the sector, Objectspace receives annual funding of $130,000 from Creative New Zealand.

A third recommendation was addressed when Creative New Zealand formed a partnership with the Blumhardt Foundation and The Dowse to offer an annual curatorial internship. The 2005 selected intern, Grant Thompson, is researching and developing the first exhibition for the new Blumhardt Gallery at The Dowse for its opening in late 2006.

“Through the strategy, Creative New Zealand is targeting its support for the sector and this approach is benefiting craft and object art practitioners,” Mr Carruthers said.


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