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Otago University Announces 2006 Arts Fellows

Tuesday 11 October 2005

Otago University Announces 2006 Arts Fellows

An Auckland artist who works with innovative three dimensional fibreglass “canvases” and the Dunedin author of a critically-acclaimed first novel are the new recipients of the University of Otago’s 2006 Arts Fellowships.

The University’s 2005 Mozart Fellow returns for another year and the 2005 Robert Burns Fellow will continue to hold the fellowship for the first six months of its tenure.

Sarah Munro of Auckland is the recipient of the 2006 Frances Hodgkins Fellowship. Munro has been exhibiting works since 1989 and this year completed her doctoral studies at the Elam School of Fine Arts.

Munro plans to create highly-stylised three dimensional paintings which build on discoveries from her doctoral research project involving subtle colour and focus effects created through the curved surfaces of her custom-shaped fibreglass support forms or “canvases”.

Receiving the Frances Hodgkins Fellowship is a “wonderful opportunity”, says Munro.

“Hearing the news, it felt like I won Lotto – being told that you are about to be generously supported to be in a studio for a year is very exciting.”

She says she is really looking forward to the opportunity to get to know Dunedin and the Otago area.

In August, Dianne Ruth Pettis - whose 2004 novel Like Small Bones was short-listed for the Best First Book section of this year’s Commonwealth Writers’ Prize - takes up the Robert Burns Fellowship for the second half of its 2006 tenure.

She will use the opportunity to work on her third novel, in which the landscape itself will be a major character. The book will have two main settings: a seaside town in the North Island and one of the Aran Islands off Galway in Ireland.

Pettis says that it is a great honour to be chosen for the fellowship.

“To sit alongside all those writers who have previously held it is quite overwhelming and very exciting. It is a great feeling to know that people are prepared to back me in this rather precarious career I’ve chosen and I plan to make the most of this unique opportunity,” she says.

She follows on from current Burns Fellow, Catherine Chidgey, who will stay on for the first half of its 2006 tenure, continuing work on her fourth novel, presently entitled The Wax Woman. The novel is set in Berlin in the 1930s and 40s.

“I'm thrilled; my books take three to four years to write, so an extension is very welcome,” says Chidgey.

Her third novel, The Transformation, was recently published internationally to enthusiastic reviews.

Christchurch composer Rachel Clement continues for another year as Mozart Fellow, during which time she plans to develop a great deal of raw material she has generated in addition to the works she is completing this year.

“My time so far as Mozart Fellow has been very fruitful. The opportunity to concentrate solely on composition within this unique physical and culturally supportive environment has generated a number of exciting musical ideas. I want to develop these further into larger-scale works, including an orchestral work,” she says.

The Frances Hodgkins Fellowship was established in 1962. Some of New Zealand's most renowned artists have been appointed as Fellows, including Grahame Sydney, Ralph Hotere and Shane Cotton.

The Robert Burns Fellowship was established in 1958 to commemorate the bicentenary of the birth of Robert Burns. The Fellowship aims to encourage imaginative literature and to associate writers with the University. Past Robert Burns Fellows have included Janet Frame, James K Baxter, Michael King, and Maurice Shadbolt.

Established in 1969, the Mozart Fellowship has benefited most of New Zealand's significant composers, including John Rimmer, Anthony Ritchie and Gillian Whitehead.

The recipient of the fourth strand in the University’s prestigious suite of Arts Fellowships, the Caroline Plummer Dance Fellowship, will be announced in the near future.

ENDS

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