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Distinguished Alumni Award recognises talented artist

Distinguished Alumni Award recognises talented artist

Artist Lisa Reihana (Ngā Puhi Ngāti Hine and Ngāi Tu) has been named as a 2017 Distinguished Alumni by the University of Auckland, in recognition of her outstanding achievement in the field of fine arts.

The renowned artist who graduated from Elam School of Fine Arts in 1988, has gone on to enjoy a stellar career including being awarded an Arts Laureate by the New Zealand Arts Foundation in 2014, the Te Tohu Toi Ke Te Waka Toi Maori Arts Innovation Award from Creative New Zealand in 2015, nominated for the Walters Prize in 2016, and selected to represent New Zealand at this year’s Venice Biennale.

Lisa’s work which spans multimedia, photography, sculpture and screen, is held in public and private collections both here and around the world.

Her video installation In Pursuit of Venus [Infected], featuring the neo-classical French wallpaper Les Sauvages De La Mer Pacifique, that re-examined the first encounters between Polynesians and Europeans, was widely acclaimed when it premiered at the Auckland Art Gallery in May 2015.

Dr Peter Shand, Head of Elam School of Fine Arts says “Lisa’s practice continually redefines contemporary art, enthralling audiences while simultaneously destabilizing dominant narratives. She is an exceptional artist whose career goes from strength to strength.”

“When I look back at my art and career I can see the profound influence that the Intermedia Department at Elam has had on it,” says Lisa. “Established by Phil Dadson to integrate time-based art into the sculpture programme, it was very forward thinking and opened up an amazing field to me,” she says.

“We were a small group of students and many of my colleagues from that time – including Niki Caro, a 2004 Distinguished Alumni Award recipient - have gone on to do extraordinary things both here and overseas,” she says.

“In 2005 I made Public Art, Cultural Icons. It was a documentary about public art in New Zealand. For me, it was a lovely opportunity to acknowledge those artists who had taught me. People like Greer Twiss, Marte Szirmay and of course Phil Dadson, who were phenomenal educationalists,” says Lisa.

For the 75th Venice Biennale opening in May, Lisa will present Emissaries, which includes an adapted and renamed version of In Pursuit of Venus [Infected] (2015-17), alongside new photo-based and sculptural works.

For more information about Lisa Reihana visit

For more information about the Distinguished Alumni Awards visit


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