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UC Arts Scholarship Winner Rachael Dewhirst Helping Rebuild

UC Arts Scholarship Winner Rachael Dewhirst Helping In The Rebuild

November 5, 2012

A University of Canterbury (UC) fine arts student will be part of the Christchurch rebuild over the summer.

Fourth-year UC student Rachael Dewhirst won a Scape Public Art scholarship to paint a 50 metre wide by six metre high bright colourful abstract mural in Re:Start, in the Cashel Mall.

``I did a two day public art course that Scape held at the CPIT. The competition was open to everyone doing the course. The scholarship includes working with professionals to execute it and gives the unique opportunity to have your work up in a public space on a huge scale. This is going to be a very exciting project,’’ Dewhirst said today.

``I went to Mt Hutt College at Methven but I like Christchurch, it is close to home and I heard that fine arts at UC was great and I wasn't particularly keen to be in Auckland. I was also keen to do physical education teaching at Canterbury - that was the original plan. Now I just love art so much I’d love to continue painting after I leave UC.’’

She recently staged her first solo art exhibition at PaperGraphica in Christchurch and has a large work hanging in Christchurch law firm Murray and Co’s meeting room near the CBD. She will be displaying some of her works at UC’s fine arts open day on November 14.

Dewhirst was selected as one of 20 inaugural 2012 UC arts scholars this year and plans to do her honours next year.

``It’s been cool mixing with the 19 other scholars across the arts faculty. We went to master classes which involved going to lectures and talks given by current and visiting lecturers. There was also the mentoring programme with Riccarton High School. I've thrived on the challenge art brings. I love it.’’

Her supervising lecturer Associate Professor Simon Ogden said Dewhirst was is an ambitious and talented student.

``She has demonstrated her commitment to her practical research and her determination to aim towards a professional career as a visual artist. You rarely encounter a student of this calibre,’’ he said.

A leading New Zealand artist and former UC arts student Phillipa Blair said UC was a great place to study art.

``Both my mother Grace Mackenzie Blair (same time as Rita Angus) and daughter Taisha Hutchison attended UC and my uncle, architect Keith Mackenzie, designed the existing Fine Arts building,’’ Blair said.

``Returning as a visiting lecturer in 1995, was very different as I was then teaching with those who had taught me, respected and feared. So that was interesting and a lot of fun.

``On my return visits to the Art School, I have been very impressed with the dedication and talent of both students and staff and the very careful, caring community that is created in that special place and continuing despite the challenges of the recent earthquakes and losses. It is very inspiring and the spirit continues strong.’’

Another former UC art graduate and noted New Zealand artist Tony de Lautour said UC had a great reputation for fine arts.

``Why would you want to study fine arts anywhere else. At such an unusual and interesting time in this city there are opportunities for students and recent graduates to be involved in exciting projects. With Rachael doing a big art project at Restart, it shows how artists can be part of the vibrant rebuild in Christchurch.’’

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