Artist with ‘intriguing practice’ awarded Iris Fisher Scholarship

18 August 2016
Untitled 2016 by Hannah Valentine

Elam School of Fine Arts student Hannah Valentine has been awarded the 2016 Iris Fisher Scholarship, in recognition of an art practice described by the judges as ‘intriguing’.

The Scholarship winner was announced on Saturday by Te Tuhi Centre for the Arts’ Chief Executive Hiraani Himona, at the opening of the exhibition Share/Cheat/Unite.

The national award which is open to postgraduate students enrolled in a visual arts/fine arts course, aims to support the development of emerging New Zealand artists.

The twenty-seven year old Masters of Fine Arts student at the University of Auckland, has been creating works that allude to how we think about the body in this saturated Internet age, influenced by European artists Franz Erhard Whalther and the early work of Franz West.

Her most recent body of work features portable, tactile objects that draw attention to our physicality and the nature of engagement. The audience is invited to touch, remove, and reposition her artwork within her exhibition space.

Unlike West, whose Passstucke (Adaptives) used degradable materials such as plaster and pâpier maché, Valentine’s bronze objects are resilient and permanent, and are intended to dismantle the ‘no touching’ premise of sculpture.

The Iris Fisher Scholarship worth $5,000 will allow Valentine to experiment more fully with bronze forms, including up-sizing them so that interaction by multiple participants is needed to bring the work to life.

Remuera-based Valentine, who has recently taken up a part-time Graduate Teaching Assistant role at Elam, says she’s “interested in the material and historical weight of bronze. It manages to draw people in, and asks to be touched. It is also resilient, and can support transition through many hands.”

This year’s winner was selected by Te Tuhi’s curatorial team who said ‘Hannah has an intriguing practice that explores the haptic and kinetic aspects of being human in contrast to the computer aided virtual experiences that dominate much of our daily lives. Through sculptural installations, performances and objects, her work encourages us to take pause and grow an awareness of touch, materiality and bodily presence.’

The runners up were students Hikalu Clarke, Matilda Fraser and Deborah Rundle, who each received the opportunity to submit an exhibition proposal to Te Tuhi for consideration. 

Established in 2007, the annual Scholarship is named after Iris Fisher, a founding member of the Pakuranga Arts Society and a driving force behind the creation of the Fisher Gallery, later renamed Te Tuhi Centre for the Arts.

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