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Arts Laureate
New Zealand Herald, 31 October 2003


$40,000 way to get a year's worth of poetry

By LINDA HERRICK arts editor

Wellington poet Jenny Bornholdt has been walking around with "a stupid grin" on her face for the past couple of weeks, but has not been able to tell anyone why.

Now she can. Bornholdt and four of her peers were last night made life members of the Arts Foundation of New Zealand Laureate Artists.

Bornholdt, sculptor Neil Dawson, furniture maker Humphrey Ikin, actor-director Michael Hurst and composer John Psathas each received a no-strings cheque for $40,000 at an award ceremony in Christchurch.



2003 Laureate Awardees: Neil Dawson, John Psathas,Jenny Bornholdt, Humphrey Ikin and Michael Hurst. Picture by Matt Grace.

This is the Laureate Artists academy's fourth year of intake, and it now has 19 members.

The awards are financed by the Arts Foundation Endowment Fund.

They were worth $30,000, but have been given a $10,000 boost by a Lottery Grants Board contribution and private donations.

"The concept of a laureate means being active, doing something," said Aucklander Michael Hurst, who has a long history of theatre production and achieved international fame for his work on the TV series Hercules.

Hurst said the money came with no strings attached, but "I'd say most of us have already got the strings attached."

He would use the money on a staging of Bertolt Brecht's Threepenny Opera he was planning for next year.

Bornholdt, who was last year's Katherine Mansfield Fellow, said the money bought her a year of writing time.

"You can't live as a poet in New Zealand so I do bits of paid work, but this money changes my life."

Neil Dawson lives in Christchurch, and has an international profile from works which include a one for Stadium Australia's main entrance for the Olympic Games.

He regarded the award as "wonderful affirmation and support".

"I've been on a rollercoaster ride over the past few years with major projects like the Olympics and the Chalice in Christchurch, so this money gives me the opportunity to come up for some air.

"It will give me the space to reflect on what I'm doing and how I might deal with that from now on."

Psathas, who teaches at Victoria University in Wellington, will use the cash to make musical pilgrimages to southern India and northern Africa.

"Getting the endorsement within the country is just great," he said. "Banal as it sounds, it's a confidence thing."

Humphrey Ikin, who has a studio in Mt Eden and is regarded as being at the forefront of New Zealand furniture design for the past 20 years, said his plans for the award money were simple.

"I will upgrade the studio. There are so many things you put up with for 20 or more years because you don't have the money.

"And because so much of my work is tied up with commissions, I try to make a point of working towards solo shows.

"It's easier to find that time with money in the back pocket."




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