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Artists take up Creative NZ residencies in Asia

Date: 4 October 2005

Artists take up Creative New Zealand residencies in Asia

Ri Williamson will spend the next three months in “the world’s largest construction site” as an artist-in-residence at the Red Gate Gallery in Beijing, with the support of Creative New Zealand in partnership with the Asia New Zealand Foundation.

Williamson, who grew up in Christchurch and studied at Canterbury University, has been based in Auckland for the past 18 months. In Beijing, she will develop work grounded in research she’s been undertaking in Europe and Asia as a recipient of the Ethel Susan Jones Travelling Scholarship, awarded by Canterbury University’s School of Fine Arts, and a professional development grant from Creative New Zealand.

“Beijing is under immense pressure to emerge as a world-class, functioning mega-city before the Olympic flame ignites in 2008,” she says. “Architecture fuels my practice as an artist and I’m curious to see just how this situation plays out in a city where there are high expectations and 14 million residents.”

Williamson is one of two New Zealand artists offered residencies in Asia by Creative New Zealand. Wanganui painter Prakash Patel will spend three months from January 2006 as artist-in-residence at the Sanskriti Foundation’s Sanskriti Kendra campus on the outskirts of New Delhi.

This is the second year that Creative New Zealand has offered the Asian residencies. Last year’s recipients were visual artist Simon Kaan (Red Gate Gallery, Beijing) and textile artist Kelly Thompson (Sanskriti Foundation’s Sanskriti Kendra campus, New Delhi). Creative New Zealand covers accommodation costs and provides $10,000 stipends while the artists are in residence. The Asia New Zealand Foundation meets the costs of the return airfares.

Alastair Carruthers, Chair of the Arts Board of Creative New Zealand, says the Arts Board is delighted to support the residencies for a second year and welcomes the continued support of the Asia New Zealand Foundation.

“Asia is an important region for New Zealand for trade, migration and cultural exchange,” Mr Carruthers says. “These residencies offer New Zealand artists the chance to extend their practice, inspired by new and stimulating environments increasingly relevant to our society.”

Asia New Zealand Foundation acting Director Adele Mason says the residencies are an ideal way to promote cultural understanding. “These two very different residencies offer tremendous learning and networking opportunities for New Zealand artists. We believe they’ll produce far-reaching benefits for New Zealand as a whole over the years to come.”

For Patel, the residency is an opportunity to immerse himself in Indian life and philosophy, creating work in the “contemplative, creative environment of the Sanskriti Kendra campus”.

Born in Wanganui, Patel first travelled with his parents to their birthplace of Gujurat in 1978 and returned to India with his older brother in 1998. The second journey inspired his 1998 series of works, including Cosmic Mind Temple.

“With this third journey to India, I’ll be focussed on my art practice,” Patel says. “I want to explore the holistic nature of Indian life, be open to new ideas and inspirations, and see where it takes my art.”


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