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$100,000 CNZ Fellowship awarded to Areta Wilkinson

$100,000 Creative New Zealand Craft/Object Fellowship awarded to Areta Wilkinson.

Creative New Zealand’s $100,000 Craft/Object Fellowship has been awarded to Canterbury artist/jeweller Dr Areta Wilkinson (Ngai Tahu) for 2015.

Having recently completed a doctoral thesis examining concepts of taonga relevant to her own contemporary practice, Dr Wilkinson says the fellowship will enable her to “realise a body of work that synthesises the doctoral research.” Her project titled Hine-Āhua: Absences and Presences will use gold sourced from Te Tai Poutini (the West Coast) and Ōtakou (Otago) regions.

“Through a Maori lens, gold from Papatuanuku and Te Waipounamu has a mauri (a life essence) and I am interested to investigate how the precious metal and new forms will be further enhanced by Ngai Tahu narratives about gold,” Dr Wilkinson says.

“Small, but strong, wearable taonga Māori are more than just ornaments to adorn the body. They are connections to the land, to the gods, to history and legend. They facilitate relationships, identities, politics, ethics.”

Dr Wilkinson’s doctorate exhibition, Whakapaipai: Jewellery as Pepeha, describes a journey by the artist to acknowledge her whakapapa as a maker.

“Whakapaipai infers improvement through adornment. For me this improvement involved deeper inquiry, into knowledge unique to New Zealand and the world, and into my relationship to early adornments from Te Waipounamu,” she says.

As a result of her investigation Dr Wilkinson positions the cultural production of tupuna and Māori knowledge as central and critical to contemporary works.

Creative New Zealand’s Chief Executive, Stephen Wainwright, says Dr Wilkinson’s research, informed by Māori inquiry, makes a unique contribution in the field of contemporary jewellery. “This is important here in Aotearoa and internationally. We see great value in having this work developed, as a tangible illustration of the connection between indigenous knowledge and craft practice.”

Dr Areta Wilkinson has been a practising jeweller since the 1990’s. Her work has been shown in many solo and group exhibitions and is held in numerous public collections, including The City Gallery Wellington, Auckland Museum, the Dowse Art Museum and the Museum of New Zealand Te Papa Tongarewa. A recipient of numerous scholarships, she won the New Dowse Gold Award in 2009 and was artist in residence at Museum of Archaeology & Anthropology, University of Cambridge, UK in 2010.

Her exhibition, Whakapaipai: Jewellery as Pepeha opens on Saturday 6 June at Objectspace in Auckland then tours to the Dowse Art Museum in Lower Hutt.

The Creative New Zealand Craft/Object Fellowship is awarded to established or senior practitioners, curators and writers working in traditional applied arts or contemporary practice, including Ngā Toi Māori and Pacific arts. Previous recipients are: Malcolm Harrison (2004), Peter Lange (2005), Rangi Kipa (2006), Moyra Elliott (2009), Baye Riddell (2011) and Garry Nash (2013).


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