Auckland Art Gallery Toi O Tāmaki names Dr Jacky Bowring the first winner of the Michèle Whitecliffe Artistic Writing Award


Auckland Art Gallery Toi o Tāmaki is delighted to announce that Dr Jacky Bowring is the inaugural winner of the Michèle Whitecliffe Art Writing Prize, for her entry “Art Therapy”.

As the 2021 laureate, Dr Bowring receives $ 2,500 and sees the winning entry published in Auckland Art Gallery magazine, Art Toi. The two finalists, Alena Kavka and Robyn Maree Pickins, will have their contributions published on the Gallery website as online articles.

Auckland Art Gallery Director Kirsten Lacy said part of the gallery’s responsibility is to foster art writing and critical engagement.

“The gallery plays an important role in the publication of art and ideas, developing new ways of understanding and talking about the visual arts in New Zealand. We also actively strive to nurture critical and creative thinking about the visual arts and to support new writing and writers. ‘ Lacy said.

“The Michele Whitecliffe Art Writing Prize was created to stimulate discussions about New Zealand art and culture. It’s nice to see a controversial and provocative exploration of public sculpture in Dr. Bowring’s inaugural essay “Art Therapy”. “

The award aims to raise critical voices and to refresh and strengthen discussions about art and culture. Writers were asked to respond to the theme of “well-being” in their essays, and an independent judge, Charles Darwent, selected the winner from a large pool of nominations.

Art critic for Independent on Sunday from 1996 to 2013, Charles Darwent is a regular contributor to The Guardian, The Art Newspaper and ArtReview. He is also the author of Mondrian in London (2013) and Josef Albers: Life and Work (2018).

“Art therapy” opens with a challenge to accepted wisdom: what if art was in fact not therapeutic but harmful? It’s easy enough to grab attention with a catchy first line, much harder to maintain interest after you do. What impressed me about ‘Art Therapy’ was its consistent and intelligent sacrifice of sacred cows. There was no recourse to easy assumptions, no critical jargon. The authority of the essay comes from the originality of its thinking. He didn’t need to dress up, ”says Darwent.

A professor at Lincoln University, Dr Bowring is a landscape architecture scholar specializing in memorabilia and memorials.

“Hearing about the competition has been the perfect catalyst for me to write about a lot of things I’ve reflected on in regards to statues and public art,” says Dr Bowring.

“As a landscape architect, I’m really interested in public spaces and how they are a mirror of culture in so many ways, including how statues are so powerful in their weighty symbolism. I wasn’t sure this was what “art writing” meant, so it was amazing to hear that my work had been recognized by a judge with such mana in the field. “

Darwent adds, “The play is also not afraid to entertain. He speaks of a lived experience – of civic sculpture, wonderfully (and usefully) redefined as “compulsory art” – in a language that is both living and lived. There is a nuance of absurdity that animates the piece, its ideas, like the statues with which it engages, moving as on a chessboard. I enjoyed reading this essay immensely and came back thinking differently because of it.

The Michèle Whitecliffe Art Writing Prize was founded in 2020 to foster a vital debate on the visual arts of Aotearoa, New Zealand. Supported by Michèle Whitecliffe, the award is created in memory of her late husband, Greg Whitecliffe, who was passionate about writing and celebrating the arts in print form.

“In many ways, this is the perfect year for this top artistic writing award, as we have a little more time to reflect and appreciate what is written. I’m very fond of the arts, and this was something my late husband Greg was extremely skilled at. He was a regular contributor to arts magazines and articles, featured articles at arts conferences around the world, and was just beginning to write and paint on his Māori. legacy and his ancestors when his life was cut short. This award was created in his memory to recognize all he has done for the arts in New Zealand, ”says Michèle Whitecliffe.

“The creation of the Whitecliffe College of Arts & Design was a courageous move that has benefited thousands of arts students. Whitecliffe College of Arts & Design has become a household name, but there is always a need for more support in the written arts and that is why I am delighted to be working together with Auckland Art Gallery. I would like to congratulate Dr Jacky Bowring on his work and look forward to seeing many more articles written on and about the arts in New Zealand.

About the winner

Jacky Bowring is Professor of Landscape Architecture at the University of Lincoln and a Fellow of the New Zealand Institute of Landscape Architects. Jacky explores landscape through research, criticism and design, and is the author of Landscape Architecture Criticism (2020), Melancholy and the Landscape: Locating Sadness, Memory and Reflection in the Landscape (2016) and A Field Guide to Melancholy (2008). His design work includes the ongoing development of the Pike River Mine Memorial Landscape and “Island of Lost Objects,” which won the LA + Journal International Competition to Design an Island (2017).

About the award

Greg Whitecliffe (Ngāti Pikiao) (1954-2001) was an artist, educator and co-founder of the Whitecliffe Art School (now Whitecliffe College of Arts and Design) in Auckland, Aotearoa in New Zealand, an accredited private college delivering diplomas. He has pursued an active career that has ranged from professional development in higher education management at Harvard University to stone lithography workshops in Switzerland. He received a Bachelor of Arts, two Masters, a postgraduate course at Harvard, and was working on a PhD until his death in 2001.

During the last years of his life, Greg published commentaries on contemporary art and New Zealand art history internationally. He was a member of the International Council of Deans of Fine Arts (ICFAD) and was working on the creation of a specially designed campus for the Whitecliffe College of Arts and Design.

Michèle continued to lead the Whitecliffe College of Arts & Design until the end of 2018, when she sold the college to a new company.

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