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Extraordinary life story nominated for top award

Extraordinary life story from Te Papa Press nominated for top award

Peter McLeavey: The Life and Times of a New Zealand Art Dealer from New Zealand’s unique museum publisher, Te Papa Press, has been nominated in the non-fiction category of the 2014 New Zealand Post Book Awards. This is the first ever biography of the charismatic, pioneering art dealer who has shaped, even transformed, New Zealand art since the 1960s.

The latest nomination follows hot on the heels of the book’s success at the 2014 PANZ Book Design Awards last week, where it won the Random House New Zealand Award for Best Illustrated Book. Author Jill Trevelyan is a skilled biographer and no stranger to literary awards. Her best-selling and much-loved biography Rita Angus: An Artist’s Life, also published by Te Papa Press, won two accolades at the 2009 New Zealand Montana Book Awards; the biography category and New Zealand’s top prize for non-fiction, the Montana Medal.

She says this latest acknowledgement is an honour. “It is a thrill to be nominated, and is yet further recognition of Peter McLeavey and the exceptional artists he has shown over nearly fifty years.” The book offers intriguing insights into the ‘who’s who’ of the artists McLeavey represented from the time he opened his ground-breaking Cuba Street gallery almost half a century ago. The experiences of Colin McCahon, Toss Woollaston, Len Lye, Milan Mrkusich, Michael Smither, Michael Illingworth, Don Driver, Robin White and many more are recounted in their own words.

Peter McLeavey granted Trevelyan exclusive access to his private papers; an extensive and previously untapped archive of letters, diaries, exhibition files and more. He has said that reading her book made him feel “like one of those 16th century explorers discovering a new land. What an adventure it’s been.”

Te Papa Press publisher, Claire Murdoch, says, “It is a great joy to see Jill’s work recognised again in this way. She’s a talented biographical writer at the top of her game and has made her subject as fascinating, significant and intriguing to a broad popular readership as he is to those who know him well. Alongside Peter’s story runs the much bigger story of contemporary New Zealand art itself. This nomination is a welcome endorsement of Jill’s skill as a storyteller.”

The New Zealand Post Book Awards nomination reinforces the book’s positive reception by the public, critics and reviewers. Te Papa’s Acting Chief Executive and Kaihautū, Arapata Hakiwai, says “This book is an extraordinary achievement, and we are delighted that Te Papa Press and Jill Trevelyan are receiving such well-deserved recognition for their dedication and skill. Publishing of such high quality allows Te Papa to reach audiences outside the walls of the national museum. Te Papa Press is committed to telling New Zealand stories, and this award recognises the value of those stories.”

New Zealand Post Book Awards winners will be announced during a ceremony at Te Papa in Wellington on Wednesday 27 August 2014.

View the full list of 2014 finalists here:


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