Renowned artist to take up Wellington residency

14 October 2014

Wellington art lovers will have the chance to interact with leading international artists as part of a pioneering artist-in-residence programme beginning this week.

Christian Thompson; Trinity II, Polari, 2014.

Christian Thompson; Trinity II, Polari, 2014.


The programme, jointly run by Whiti o Rehua – The School of Art at Massey University and Wellington City Council, has welcomed renowned Australian Artist Christian Thompson as its first resident Friday, 10 October.

Mr Thompson is living and working in an impressive new studio at the end of Clyde Quay, where he will spend two months producing new work, speaking to New Zealand artists and art students and presenting at public events.

He will also provide a public lecture at Massey University’s Creative Arts Building on 16 October and will hold an exhibition of his work at the end of his stay. His public lecture will discuss projects he undertook at the University of Oxford; his series 'We Bury Our Own' at the Pitt Rivers Museum, and his exhibition at Trinity College where his photographs hung in place of formal portraits, breaking with 450 years of tradition.

Massey Residency Coordinator, Associate Professor Ann Shelton, says the invitation-only residence, called Te Whare Hēra (the house of the sails), reflects the location’s history of maritime arrivals and departures.

“This is one of the most ambitious artist in residence programmes in the country. What’s really special about it is that Wellington will benefit - creative works will be made here in our city and the public will have the chance to interact with the artist. It also has the best view of any artist in residence studio in New Zealand,” she says.

Mr Thompson is a photographic, conceptual and performance artist of Aboriginal descent who has presented his photographs, videos and performance works in numerous solo and group exhibitions both in Australia and internationally.

He came to prominence in Australia in the late 1990s with art focused on the exploration of identity. In his performance and photographic works he inhabits a range of personas achieved through hand-crafted costumes and carefully orchestrated poses and backdrops.

Wellington City Council Councillor and Arts Portfolio Leader Ray Ahipene-Mercer says the decision to include a publicly accessible space in the Clyde Quay complex was taken early in the design process.

“It’s special that the first artist in residence for this space is somebody of the mana of Christian Thompson.”

Massey University and Wellington City Council will fund the residency project in its first year.

The residency covers artists’ travel and accommodation, an honorarium and a materials allowance. Artists receive technical and logistical support, access to facilities from Whiti o Rehua School of Art and assistance with public events and exhibition of their work.

Christian Thompson’s Artist Lecture is on 6pm 16 October 2014, at the Te Ara Hihiko Creative Arts Building, Massey University Wellington. At 7pm there will be light refreshments and an opportunity to meet the artist.