Staff honoured with Arts Foundation Awards

24 November 2016

Two members of staff from the Faculty of Creative Arts and Industries have been recognised for their extraordinary talent by the Arts Foundation in this year’s awards.

Associate Professor Peter Robinson from Elam School of Fine Arts has received a Laureate Award worth $50,000, and Artist Teacher Alex Taylor from the School of Music has received a New Generation Award worth $25,000.

Visual artist Peter Robinson joins writer Eleanor Catton, composer Lyell Cresswell, cartoonist, graphic novelist and writer Dylan Horrocks, and film maker Taika Waititi as a recipient of a 2016 Laureate Award.

Composer Alex Taylor joins choreographer Parris Goebel and visual artist Andre Hemer as a recipient of a 2016 New Generation Award.

Laureate Awards are given as an investment in excellence to artists with prominence and outstanding potential for future growth.

New Generation awards are given to artists who are regarded as hot shots, ones to watch, who have an X-factor that sets them apart from their peers.

“The Arts Awards enable us to recognise some of New Zealand’s most extraordinary creators in front of their families, peers and country,” says Simon Bowden, Arts Foundation Executive Director.

“The national and international achievements of the 2016 recipients are extraordinary. This is why it is important for New Zealanders to celebrate and recognise these artists,” he says.

In the 1980s and 1990s artist Peter Robinson made work addressing New Zealand’s bi-cultural debate, becoming renowned for his provocative and controversial treatment of racial issues, ethnicity and identity. However, once Peter had felt this phase of his career had run its course, and for fear of being perpetually type-cast as an identity artist, Peter leapt into new territory and revisited his interest in Post Minimalism and Arte Povera, which he had been drawn to in his first year at art school. These movements were to inform the structure, orientation and social impulse of his work throughout the next decade of his career.

Peter’s use of materials and techniques are also perpetually changing tack - drawing, painting, sculpture, digital media and installation have all play their part in Peter’s huge collection of work. In 2001, Peter and Jacqueline Fraser represented New Zealand in the 49th Venice Biennale and in 2008 Peter won the Walters Prize for ACK and 2013 in participated in the Istanbul Biennale and last year he was included in the Jakarta Biennale.

Alex Taylor is one of New Zealand’s leading young composers of orchestral and chamber music. His works have been featured in concerts in New Zealand, Australia, Indonesia, America and Europe, performed by groups such as the New Zealand Symphony Orchestra and 175 East.

As well as composing, Alex is a multi-instrumentalist, poet, critic, lecturer, conductor and impresario. He has performed across a range of vocal and instrumental genres, including as lead vocalist for the Blackbird Ensemble, as concertmaster for the Auckland Youth Orchestra on their European tour in 2011, and as the Sorceress in his own recomposition of Purcell’s Dido and Aeneas with Frances Moore’s Unstuck Opera.

After studying English Literature and Music, Alex completed a Masters in Composition with First Class Honours under the Supervision of Eve de Castro-Robinson and John Elmsly in 2011. He has a special interest in the relationship between words and music, having set poetry by Lawrence Ferlinghetti, Wallace Stevens, Stephanie Christie and Iain Sharp, among others. His choral work Two Years Later, a setting of the great gay poet John Wieners, was performed by the New Zealand National Youth Choir and at the ISCM Musicarama Festival in Hong Kong.

In 2012 Alex was the recipient of the SOUNZ Contemporary Award, New Zealand’s most prestigious composition prize. He has since won a number of significant honours including the 2013 CANZ Trust Fund Award, and representing New Zealand at the 2014 Asian Composers League Festival in Tokyo.

Recent projects include a critically acclaimed Bassoon Concerto for Ben Hoadley and the Auckland Chamber Orchestra, and co-convening the 2014 and 2015 Nelson Composers Workshops. In the first half of 2015 he was the Caselberg Trust Creative Connections Artist in Residence in Broad Bay, Dunedin, creating work in response to the life and music of the late New Zealand composer Anthony Watson. Alex’s work Burlesques Mecaniques is featured on NZTrio’s most recent CD release, Lightbox. He is currently writing an opera based on David Herkt’s The Last Delirium of Arthur Rimbaud.

Queries to m.playfair@auckland.ac.nz