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Germany embracing NZ artists

If heading to Germany in March, you might be surprised at how many New Zealand artists you’ll find there. Seven New Zealanders involved with contemporary craft art make up the country’s delegation to Talentè and another two jewellery artists present their works at Schmuck. Meanwhile, a big year for New Zealand literature starts in Leipzig and Ben Cauchi begins a residency in Berlin.

March sees New Zealanders presenting their work at Talentè, one of Europe’s biggest showcases for emerging design talent, and in Schmuck, a similar exhibition for more established designers. Both will be held in Munich from the 14th to the 20th, part of the International Trade Fair for the Skilled Trades.

Sunni Gibson, Lynsay Raine and Rebekah Harman have been chosen to display their work in Talentè. The artists will be mentored while in Germany by Fran Allison, jeweller and senior lecturer at Manukau Institute of Technology.

All three artists are certainly worth watching. Gibson’s playful jewellery aims to question the way in which jewellery is often seen as a luxury object or status symbol. Raine creates casts of familiar objects in unexpected materials and has been mentored by Dutch jeweller Andrea Wagner over the last year. Harman works in textiles and will be presenting a quilt depicting the Canterbury Plains, a piece connected to the idea of this landscape as home.

The New Zealand delegation at Talentè also includes arts professionals, giving three New Zealanders the opportunity to make ties with European artists and institutions. Caroline Billing is Director of The National, a Christchurch jewellery gallery. Peter Deckers teaches in Porirua and has exhibited his own work widely. Karl Fritsch is primarily known for his own jewellery, which has been praised by Francis Upritchard, perhaps NZ’s best-known artist in the UK, among others.

Octavia Cook and Jacqui Chan will be showing their work at Schmuck, chosen from 665 international applicants.

Octavia Cook’s jewellery often hints at narratives underlying collections. Her past work includes brooches and earrings designed after murder weapons and a contemporary take on the idea of family heirlooms. Jacqui Chan works with found materials, transforming them from the familiar to the unfamiliar. Chan originally trained as an architect and is currently completing a PhD on jewellery and the urban milieu.

This exhibition will travel to Valencia in Spain after Munich.

For those who are more bookishly inclined, March also marks the beginning of an important year for New Zealand literature in Germany. This year New Zealand is Guest of Honour at the Frankfurt Book Fair. As a result of this prestigious position, New Zealand writers are being promoted in Germany more broadly.

The Leipzig Book Fair, running from March 15th to March 18th, is the first event planned in the lead-up to Frankfurt. Ten New Zealand writers, all of whom have had works translated into German or had rights for German translation sold, will represent New Zealand in Leipzig. It is hoped this will encourage further translation of New Zealand works into German.

The Frankfurt Book Fair, held in October, is the largest book fair in the world. New Zealand’s position as Guest of Honour will result in greater exposure not just in Germany but internationally. New Zealand will have a 2300 square metre hall in which to exhibit and hold events. Frankfurt have also sent Leon Joskwitz, a culinary traveller, to New Zealand to investigate kiwi food in preparation for the Book Fair.

Meanwhile, in February it was announced that Ben Cauchi, a photographer from Auckland, had been awarded a twelve-month residency at the Künstlerhaus Bethanien in Berlin.

Cauchi works with nineteenth century photographic techniques. He combines these rigorous technical procedures with a contemporary sensibility. While in Berlin, he plans to work on a project entitled One’s Own Grey, exploring links between memory and place. Berlin’s own landscape and history is ideal for such a theme.

Cauchi has exhibited widely in New Zealand and in Australia, both in group and solo shows. A number of photographs are in the collections of Te Papa. He also has work in the Auckland Art Gallery and the National Gallery of Australia. Not yet thirty, this residency is sure to result in positive introductions to European audiences.

Artists from around the world work at the Künstlerhaus Bethanien. Artists to have exhibited there in the past include Libia Castro and Olafur Olafsson, who represented Iceland at the 2011 Venice Biennale, and Britain’s Richard Grayson. New Zealanders selected for the residency in the past include some of the country’s biggest names in the visual arts, such as Peter Robinson and Ronnie van Hout.

(Anna Blair is a freelance writer and architectural historian studying hotels from the 1920s. She currently divides her time between Paris and East London. More from Anna here.)

Article first appeared on NZNewsUK website.

Updated on 23rd July 2015