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Kingsley Baird awarded Flanders residency

Media release

29 November 2006

Kingsley Baird awarded Flanders residency

Kingsley Baird, the artist who led the team that created the Tomb of the Unknown New Zealand Warrior memorial in front of the National War Museum in Wellington, has been awarded a residency at the In Flanders Fields Museum in Ypres, Belgium.

Baird, a senior lecturer at the School of Visual and Material Culture, College of Creative Arts, Massey University in Wellington, is the first New Zealand artist to undertake the two-month residency.

The residency will take place in the lead-up to events marking the 90th anniversary of the Battles of Messines and Passchendaele, taking place between June and November 2007. The In Flanders Fields Museum is a leading museum on the history of World War One and is visited by a large and growing number of people who travel to Belgium and visit that historic region. From July to November 2007 particularly large numbers of visitors are expected to visit for the 90th Anniversary Commemorations.

The residency, offered by the City of Ypres, is supported by the New Zealand Embassy in Brussels, New Zealand businesses in Belgium and Creative New Zealand. A selection panel convened by Creative New Zealand shortlisted the applicants and the final selection was made by the In Flanders Field Museum.

During the residency, Baird will create work in response to his environment. He says that themes of memory and remembrance, and loss and reconciliation are central to his practice.

“The inspiration gained from the residency will add considerably to my development as an artist exploring memory and remembrance and national identity,” Baird says. ‘I hope that through the residency, I can contribute to New Zealand’s understanding of how our experience of war has contributed to how we see ourselves and how others see us.

“I look forward to sharing the results of my experience with the people of Ypres and with people back home in New Zealand.”

The announcement was made this month at Remembrance Day ceremonies in Ypres, along with a performance by the London-based Ngati Ranana Cultural Group. Announcing the recipient, the Mayor of Ypres said that 2007 would be an important year for commemoration.

“It is fitting that the City of Ypres, in close co-operation with the New Zealand Embassy and the New Zealand Government, has offered this opportunity to a New Zealand artist to commemorate the Battles of Messines and Passchendaele.”

Historian Jock Phillips says that Kingsley Baird has made “a major contribution to the memorialising of war, not only in New Zealand but internationally”.

This year, Baird designed The Cloak of Peace Te Korowai Rangimarie, which commemorates the bombing of Nagasaki and is situated in the Nagasaki Peace Park in Japan. This sculpture was unveiled in October.

He has also created a number of other public art works and in 2001, he co-designed the New Zealand Memorial in Canberra, Australia with Studio of Pacific Architecture.


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