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10th Annual Arts Foundation Laureates Announced

Media release
Strictly embargoed until 6.30pm, Tuesday, 17 November, 2009

10th annual Arts Foundation Laureates announced

The Arts Foundation has announced its five 2009 Laureates. They are: Lyonel Grant, carver; Witi Ihimaera, writer; Chris Knox, musician; Richard Nunns, musician specialising in Maori instruments, and Anne Noble, photographer.

Each of the five Laureates will receive a $50,000, no-strings-attached donation to celebrate their past achievements and invest in their future.

“The Laureate awards are about recognising senior New Zealand artists who have a substantial track record of excellence, and who still have plenty of creative juices left in the tank,” says Foundation chairperson Ros Burdon.

This year’s Laureate Awards, being held in Auckland on November 17, marks the Arts Foundation’s tenth birthday. The Foundation has now awarded 49 Laureateships, worth a total of $2.12 million, since it was founded in 2000 to help grow private support for the arts.

The Laureate awards ceremony continues to be sponsored by trusted financial services firm, Forsyth Barr. Performers at the ceremony include several previous Laureates, such as singer Moana Maniapoto and ta mōko artist Derek Lardelli. Experimental musician Alastair Galbraith, a 2006 Laureate, will unveil the latest version of his glass-tube fire organ.

The Arts Foundation is now one of New Zealand’s largest arts patronage organisations. It has an endowment fund of just over $6 million, which is managed by Forsyth Barr and grows through the support of individual and corporate donors. The Foundation has been promised another $10 million in legacies.

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As well as the Laureate awards, the Foundation administers six other awards: the Icon Awards; the Governors’ Award; the Award for Patronage; the New Generation Award; the Marti Friedlander Photographic Award, and the Harriet Friedlander New York Residency.

Through these awards the Foundation has now honoured 96 artists and has made financial awards totaling $2.66 million.

Mrs Burdon attributes the Arts Foundation’s success over the last decade to three things: stability, innovation and generosity.

“Having Forsyth Barr as a committed sponsor for more than seven years has given us the freedom to grow,” she says. “We have been innovative in the way we select artists for awards and the way we celebrate them. This has resulted in new levels of understanding and generosity from many New Zealanders.”

Forsyth Barr Managing Director Neil Paviour-Smith says his company feels privileged to have been involved in honouring 96 New Zealand artists through its association with the Foundation.

“Each artist has been gracious in receiving their award and generous in sharing their work with communities throughout New Zealand and, just as importantly, with each other. The 2009 recipients of the Laureate Awards demonstrate again the amazing calibre of New Zealand artists; we congratulate them and welcome them to the Laureate family.”

Ten years of giving: The Arts Foundation Laureate Awards
Presented by Forsyth Barr

Each year the Arts Foundation honours five established New Zealand artists as Arts Foundation Laureates.

The five Laureates receive a donation of $50,000. The recipients can use their award money in any way they choose.

Laureates must be New Zealanders, but they can practise in any arts discipline, and they can be located anywhere in the world.

The recipients do not apply for the awards. They are selected without their knowledge by a panel of peers and art experts, and are called “out of the blue” with the news. Members of the 2009 panel were: Elizabeth Ellis (ex-chair Te Waka Toi) Jenny Harper (Director, Christchurch Art Gallery), Derek Lardelli (2004 Laureate – ta mōko), Bill Manhire (2005 Laureate – poet) and Grant Smithies (music writer).

Simon Bowden, executive director of the Arts Foundation, has the happy task of delivering the news to the recipients. However, getting hold of them can be harder than you might expect. Mr Bowden had to call 2009 Laureate, photographer Anne Noble, several times before she finally called him back.

“Anne thought I was calling to ask her to donate a work for a charity auction. In the end I got her while she was walking home. I got such a kick out of how surprised and delighted she was.”

Richard Nunns was on Kapiti Island working on a project when he got the call, while Witi Ihimaera was at home wondering how he was going to survive as a writer following his retirement from Auckland University. Carver Lyonel Grant had just finished a major project building a new marae at Unitec in Auckland.

Mr Bowden had to delay his call to musician Chris Knox for several days when news emerged that Chris had suffered a serious stroke shortly after the selection panel had chosen him as a 2009 Laureate.

“We monitored Chris’s progress for three days, then made the decision to call with news of the award. It was great to be able to deliver some good news to his family at such as terrible time.”

The Arts Foundation Laureate Awards are funded by income generated by the $6 million Arts Foundation Endowment Fund. The fund is managed by Forsyth Barr and grows through the support of individual and corporate donors. Forsyth Barr are also the presenting sponsor of the Laureate Award ceremony.

The 2009 Laureates join:
2008: Shane Cotton, Ngila Dickson, George Henare, Lloyd Jones, Teddy Tahu Rhodes
2007: Michael Houston, Sarah-Jayne Howard, Colin McColl, Moana Maniapoto, Merilyn Wiseman
2006: Alun Bollinger, Alastair Galbraith, Oscar Kightley, John Reynolds, Ian Wedde
2005: Neil Ieremia, Bill Manhire, Julia Morison, Simon O’Neill, Ronnie Van Hout
2004: Barry Barclay, Jack Body, Derek Lardelli, John Pule, Ann Robinson
2003: Jenny Bornholdt, Neil Dawson, Michael Hurst, Humphrey Ikin, John Psathas
2002: Warwick Freeman, Shona McCullagh, Don McGlashan, Helen Medlyn, Jacob Rajan
2001: Phil Dadson, Kate De Goldi, Michael Parekowhai, Gaylene Preston
2000: Briar Grace-Smith, Elizabeth Knox, Peter Peryer, Gillian Karawe Whitehead, Douglas Wright

2009 Arts Foundation Laureates
Lyonel Grant (Te Arawa) is a master carver and sculptor who works in many media, including stone, wood, bronze, glass, ceramics and paint. Each of his creations has its own distinct character. Lyonel is a graduate of the Māori Arts and Crafts Institute in Rotorua, and he now moves between classical and contemporary practice using his own unique methods. Lyonel’s most recent work is Te Noho Kotahitanga, the marae at Unitec in Auckland. Lyonel built the whare using classical construction methods. Lyonel was awarded an honorary doctorate by Unitec in July 2009. He has been invited to contribute to the 2010 Expo pavilion, Shanghai, China and has new work in Roundabout scheduled for Wellington’s City Gallery in September 2010.

Witi Ihimaera (Te Whānau a Kai, Ngāti Porou, Te Aitanga a Mahaki) is one of New Zealand’s most respected writers. His fiction is written very much from a Māori perspective; Witi sees “the world I’m in as being Māori, not European”. Witi published his first collection of short stories, Pounamu Pounamu, in 1972, followed by the novel Tangi in 1974, making him the first Māori writer to publish both short stories and a novel. Significant works since then include The Matriarch (1985) and Nights in the Gardens of Spain (1995). His 1987 novel The Whale Rider became an internationally successful feature film. Witi is now a writer of international status. He has produced new work for opera, theatre, ballet and film. His latest novel, The Trowenna Sea, an ambitious work of historical fiction, was published by Penguin on October 26.

Richard Nunns is a living authority on ngā taonga pūoro (Māori traditional musical instruments) and is described as one of New Zealand’s most remarkable musicians. Working with the late composer Hirini Melbourne and with Nelson carver Brian Flintoff, Richard helped rediscover many traditional instruments. Richard, who lives in Nelson, has a strong commitment to research, as well as to presenting and performing on traditional musical instruments. Richard was awarded a Queens Service Medal earlier this year. Richard will be working on three different recording projects from mid-November. His next major performing event is with Latitude 35 Degrees South, a group of musicians from New Zealand, South Africa and Argentina, who will play for the first time at the Bay of Islands Arts Festival in February.

Anne Noble is one of New Zealand’s most widely recognised and respected contemporary photographers. She has been described as “one of New Zealand photography’s most subtle and poetic of practitioners”. Anne is Professor of Fine Arts (Photography) at Massey University in Wellington, and was awarded the New Zealand Order of Merit for services to photography in 2003. Anne’s series Ruby’s Room was selected by the Musee du Quai Branly in Paris as the keynote contemporary photography exhibition for the inaugural Paris PhotoQuai Biennale of Photography in 2007. Anne travelled to Antarctica in 2002 as part of the Artists to Antarctica scheme. She returned to Antarctica in 2008 after winning a prestigious US National Science Foundation Artists and Writers Award. An exhibition of work from that trip is showing at Bartley + Company Art in Wellington until 28 November. The work explores ideas of beauty and toxicity, surface and depth in relation to photography and the Antarctic environment.

Chris Knox’s output is not confined to making music. He is also known for his spirited and original contributions to film, video, cartoons, writing and criticism in leading New Zealand magazines, and on radio and television. Chris is known as the “spiritual godfather” of the celebrated Flying Nun record label. As well as releasing his own music on Flying Nun, Chris also helped many bands record on the label. He also designed their LP covers and shot film clips. Chris has been a mentor to many New Zealand bands, and he has an international reputation as an influential musician. Stroke, a new album of Chris’s songs performed by local and international musicians, is being released on November 16.


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