Using grant to better the arts for others

Fresh voice for painting ... Ayesha Green feels very lucky to have won a Springboard award. PHOTO...
Fresh voice for painting ... Ayesha Green feels very lucky to have won a Springboard award. PHOTO: TESS MACKAY
Receiving one of The Arts Foundation’s first Springboard grants has been a great boost for Dunedin-based artist Ayesha Green in lockdown, finds Rebecca Fox.

Ayesha Green firmly believes in art making and the arts community but wants to look at other ways power can be distributed in the art world.

That is where the Springboard grant she has been awarded comes in.

‘‘I’m super lucky. It means I can engage in some of things I’m really interested in outside my own art making.’’

The $15,000 grant will give the Dunedin-based artist time to investigate how Maori can be included more in leadership roles in the arts community and strategies that could be used.

‘‘It’s something I’m passionate about and have been thinking a lot about. Now I carve out time this year to sit down and look at pragmatic ways things can be changed or ways we could do new things.’’

Artists do not just work on making art but are involved in lots of different things in the community, she says.

‘‘Everyone works together but there is more to be done outside of making artworks.’’

Along with the financial grant comes a mentorship with one of the Arts Foundation’s Laureates, Icons, New Generation, residency or fellowship recipients. In this case Green has been paired with Suzanne Ellison, a previous member of the Arts Council of New Zealand.

Ellison, Kati Huirapa Runaka ki Puketeraki runaka manager and Ngai Tahu fund chairwoman, has significant experience in community development and communication for her iwi.

‘‘I’m looking forward to bouncing ideas around. There will be bunch of resources to look through.’’

The Springboard grants are given out to ‘‘creatives with outstanding potential’’ at the start of their careers and is designed to be a financial, mentoring and resource support system to provide a significant impact on their growth and development as artists. Five other artists also received grants.

The selection panel described Green’s paintings as ‘‘extraordinary’’ and as making a ‘‘highly original contribution’’, and said she is a ‘‘fresh voice in the language of painting in New Zealand’’.

‘‘She has significant momentum — and is beginning to receive attention and opportunities — but the potential for her practice is exponential.’’

Green, Ngai Tahu, Ngati Kahungunu, moved to Dunedin about two years ago from Auckland for a residency and exhibition at Blue Oyster Art Project Space, a gallery she is now on the trust of.

Last year, she won the National Contemporary Arts Award for a painting, an acrylic on plywood, entitled Nana’s Birthday.

Earlier this year, she was one of four artists selected to work up a proposal for a $65,000 artwork for Dunedin’s Octagon and has just submitted hers.

‘‘It was a lot of work.’’

She is loving living in Dunedin and as her studio is in her home has been able to continue to work on upcoming projects including an exhibition at the Dunedin Public Art Gallery and one in Melbourne, which has been postponed due to Covid-19.

‘‘It has meant I could keep working on a couple of pieces. At first I was disappointed but it has turned out to be a blessing in disguise.’’

 

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