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Victoria staff and students behind prize-winning book

13 February 2014

Victoria staff and students behind prize-winning book

A book co-edited by Victoria University senior lecturer Dr Peter Brunt has won the Art Book Prize for 2013—a prestigious award presented by the Authors Club in the United Kingdom.

Formerly known as the Banister Fletcher Prize, the Art Book Prize aims to do for the visual arts what the Man Booker prize has done for the novel. It is presented annually for the best book on art or architecture published anywhere in the world in the past year.

Dr Brunt, a senior lecturer in Victoria’s School of Art History, Classics and Religious Studies edited the 500 page book Art in Oceania: A New History with Professor Nicholas Thomas, Director of the Museum of Archaeology and Anthropology at Cambridge University.

Two of the book’s seven co-authors were Sean Mallon, Senior Curator, Pacific Cultures, at Te Papa, and a current Victoria PhD student in Anthropology, and Dr Damian Skinner, a curator at Auckland Museum, who obtained his PhD in Art History from Victoria in 2005.

Marsden funding was pivotal to the production of the book, which took around six years to complete. Several Victoria postgraduate students were also involved in the project, including Stella Ramage, a current PhD student in Art History who worked as assistant editor.

Other authors were Dr Deidre Brown, a senior lecturer in the School of Architecture at the University of Auckland, Professor Susanne Küchler, Professor of Anthropology at University College London and Dr Lissant Bolton, Keeper of the Department of Africa, Oceania and the Americas at the British Museum, who accepted the prize at a function in London supported byThe Art Newspaper.

Victoria’s Vice-Chancellor Professor Pat Walsh says winning the Art Book Prize is an outstanding achievement for all those involved in its production and Victoria University as a whole.

“This prize is further recognition of the world-class capability Victoria University has in humanities disciplines.”

Dr Brunt says he is delighted and “a little stunned” by the book’s win.

He describes Art in Oceania as a paradigm-shifting book which encourages people to look at Pacific art in new ways.

“The traditional genre was to present an overarching regional survey that looked at tribal art from particular cultural areas. Art in Oceania: A New History breaks new ground by exploring historical and current influences on indigenous art in the Pacific, covering genres ranging from ancient rock art and ritual architecture to contemporary painting and installation.”

Published by Thames and Hudson in late 2012, Dr Brunt says the first edition of Art in Oceania: A New History has sold extremely well and a second edition will be published soon.

To read more about Art in Oceania: A History, visit:


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