This year the Jens Hansen Award of Excellence has been awarded to two graduates Yi Liang for design and Sarah Arnold for her artwork.
These awardees were selected for their excellence in studio practice by the external moderator Tricia Falkner from UCOL and Michael Greaves from Dunedin School of Art.
Three painters Yael Pochon, Florence Berthold and Louisa Hopcroft, as well as the installation work of Sarah Arnold, also impressed the external moderator Michael Greaves from the Dunedin School of Art. He selected Sarah’s installation for the Award of Excellence because it “both links to the local community and is universal in reach.” He observed that this installation has been “created with sensitivity to the terrible trauma of war and the haptic qualities of the thoughtfully chosen material, and could be exhibited in a public Gallery.”
Sarah developed her installation Beyond Measure in response to her research about WW I. “A significant number of my ancestors (10 first cousins, two of whom did not return) from the Motupiko Valley fought with the New Zealand Expeditionary Force in campaigns on Gallipoli and the Western Front. The trace of these men exists in archival records; war photographs, familial oral histories, military history sheets. This year I travelled to the WWI battled sites in Europe and I was very moved by the experience”.
Made from softly dyed, suspended muslin strips, the works suggest notions of woundedness and memory. This fabric, the closest possible textile match to the original First Field Dressing bandage material, speaks of soldiers’ wounds, and of protection and caring. It also speaks of the impossibility of protecting all wounds – the loss of life, and the psychological damage from prolonged trench warfare. “Of course, we cannot truly know these men, but within an exhibition an alliance forms between the artist’s narrative voice and the viewer’s encounter.” Rebuilding memories from archival fragments, the work does not judge, blame or glorify, it simply remembers.
Liang Yi is a graduate who came from the HuBei province in China to study for her final year of the Bachelor of Arts and Media degree. “At four years old my mother took me to my first painting class. From that time on, I dreamed of creating a fashion brand. Studying at NMIT I have created LIANGYI, a fashion brand with a focus on the 18- 35-year-old market. I have designed a range of scarves and bags made up of a series of hand-drawn patterns that I have drawn and developed in Illustrator.”
Digitally printed on silk, LIANGYI’s designs feature four shapes - the star, circle, triangle and loving heart. The colour is black and white. “My intention with this brand is to empower young people to be distinctive, feel free and have fun in their lives.”
The UCOL moderator Tricia Falkner noted that Liang Yi’s work stood out because it engaged with popular culture. “Yi has created a range of diverse designs in scarves, bags, and compacts. These complement one another yet are distinctive in their own way. All essential aspects of packaging and labelling have been carefully considered and this product line LIANGYI is undoubtedly a unique brand.” Liang Yi also collaborated with fellow student and photographer Rachel Persico to produce an outstanding ‘lookbook’ catalogue.
Both external moderators applauded Liang’s work as highly successful design by a young graduate. They described the LIANGYI brand and products as “shop ready” with “commercial potential.”
Catharine Salmon, the coordinator for the final studio year observed that in the Creative Industries at NMIT “we celebrate cultural diversity through connections with our China University partner. “The collaboration between Liang and Rachael is notable, and reflects a richness that dialogue across cultures can bring to the student experience and quality of work.”
John Denton, the Deputy Head of Arts, Media and Digital Technology also announced three other awards. The joint awardees for Distinction in their studio work - selected by the external moderators and sponsored by The Framing Rooms, Collingwood Street, Nelson, and Impressions, Sundial Square, Richmond were Rachael Persico, Yael Pochon and Florence Berthold.
A new 2017 Graduate award sponsored by the Nelson Suter Art Society Graduate was also introduced. The winners, selected by the society’s committee, were Sarah Arnold and Yael Pochon includes a solo/ group exhibition in the McKee Gallery in the Suter, a year’s free membership of the society and the opportunity to enter the society’s Spring, Autumn and Summer exhibitions.