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Artistic Influencers

14 July 2023

From Rita Angus and Ngaio Marsh to Allen Curnow and Bill Hammond, learn about the artistic influencers UC is showcasing to celebrate our 150th anniversary.

Gemma New
Gemma New

MusB 2009, MusB (Hons) 2010

Gemma New is Artistic Advisor and Principal Conductor of the New Zealand Symphony Orchestra, Music Director of the Hamilton Philharmonic Orchestra and Principal Guest Conductor of the Dallas Symphony Orchestra. She served for four seasons as Resident Conductor of the St. Louis Symphony Orchestra and previously served as Associate Conductor of the New Jersey Symphony. A former Dudamel Conducting Fellow with the Los Angeles Philharmonic and Conducting Fellow at Tanglewood Music Center, prior to receiving the 2021 prestigious Sir Georg Solti Conducting Award, she was awarded Solti Foundation U.S. Career Assistance Awards in 2017, 2019 and 2020.

Photo credit: Sylvia Elzafon

UC Legend - Rita Angus
Rita Angus

Fine Arts 1933

Considered one of the leading figures in twentieth century New Zealand art, Rita Angus was a committed feminist and pacifist with her world view deeply entwined within her work. A pioneer of modern painting and perhaps best known for her oil and watercolour portraits and artworks depicting Central Otago, Rita began her artist journey studying at the Canterbury College School of Art. Before becoming a working artist, she worked as a teacher, and illustrator for The Press. “As a woman painter, I work to represent love of humanity and faith in mankind in a world, which is to me, richly viable and infinitely beautiful”. 

Derek Lardelli
Sir Derek Lardelli KNZM

DipT 1986, BFA 1986, MFA 2009

Sir Derek Lardelli (Ngāti Porou, Rongowhakaata) is regarded as one of Aotearoa New Zealand’s pre-eminent Maori Artists. A leader in the revival of tā moko, he is also a kapahaka exponent, composer, designer, keeper of oral and written histories and an exceptional orator. He composed the All Blacks haka Kapa O Pango. Based in Gisborne, as Professor Ahorangi at Toihoukura, School of Māori Visual Arts he has championed successful outcomes using Māori learning principles.  In 2004 he received a NZ Arts Foundation Laureate, and amongst other awards and distinctions, Sir Derek was Knighted in 2020 for services to Māori Arts.

Bill Culbert
Bill Culbert MNZM

DipFA 1956, DipFA (Hons) 1958, DFA 2013

A sculptor, photographer and installation artist, Bill Culbert has enjoyed worldwide success and recognition since his graduation from the UC School of Fine Arts in 1958. Leaving New Zealand at 22, Bill resided in the UK and France for most of his life. His signature art style saw him use light and discarded objects – bottles, suitcases, tables, chairs, jars – in an exploration of how light and shadow influence the way we interpret the everyday world. He became a Member of the New Zealand Order of Merit in 2008 for his services to art. Throughout his career, Bill had more than 100 solo exhibitions and represented New Zealand at the 55th Venice Biennale in 2013.

UC Legend - Dame Ngaio Marsh
Dame Ngaio Marsh DBE

LittD 1962

A writer during the ‘golden age’ of detective fiction Dame Ngaio Marsh, known as one of the ‘Queens of Crime’, is perhaps best known for her 32 novels about London detective, Inspector Roderick Alleyn. Her great passion was theatre, and her modernised production of Hamlet, performed by what is now known as DramaSoc, was met with acclaim – leading her to form a travelling student theatre company. Ngaio was appointed a Dame in 1966 for services to the arts. Her legacy is alive with the Ngaio Marsh Award being presented annually for the best New Zealand mystery, crime and thriller fiction, and with the theatre in Haere-Roa (UCSA building) also being named in her honour.

Gavin Bishop
Gavin Bishop ONZM

DipFA 1967, Teacher’s College Diploma (Distinction) 1968, DipFA (Hons) 1968, DEd 2016

A children’s picture book author and artist of international and local reputation, Gavin Bishop has successfully published 70 books that have been translated into twelve languages, earning him numerous awards – including the Kingi Ihaka Award in 2018 and the Prime Minister’s Award in 2019. His distinctive ink and watercolour illustrations have seen Gavin shortlisted for NZ book awards more times than any other author of any kind. A guest lecturer at the Rhode Island School of Design in 1996, he is widely travelled and has been a guest author and speaker through UNESCO in Japan, China, Indonesia and the USA. In 2013 Gavin was appointed an Officer of the Order of Merit of New Zealand.

Maurice Till
Dr Maurice Till

BA 1948, MA (Hons) 1949, DipMus 1949, MusD 2000

In a professional career spanning 50 years, Dr Maurice Till is a renowned solo pianist, accompanist and teacher. His first major concert engagement was with the New Zealand Symphony Orchestra in 1951 and he has toured extensively with world-famous artists. Known for his dedication to his students, he lectured in music at both Otago University and UC, where he became Dean of Music and Fine Arts. He was a committed patron of the arts, a member of the QEII Arts Council and the Foundation Chairman of the Southern Regional Arts Council. Maurice’s honours include Member of the Most Excellent Order of the British Empire in 1971 and Companion of the NZ Order of Merit in 1999.

Teddy Rhodes
Teddy Rhodes

BCom 1990

Quickly establishing an international career on both the opera stage and concert platform, bass-baritone Teddy Tahu Rhodes has always had a love for music and performance. Crediting his years at UC as pivotal in setting him on the path to a career in music, Teddy has since performed in international opera companies across the United States, Europe and the UK. Throughout his career, Teddy has taken home an ARIA Award, two Helpmann Awards, the Limelight Award, a Green Room Award plus a MO Award (Operatic Performer of the Year). When looking at past productions and opportunities, Teddy reveals it is, “A humbling experience; to be a small part of the history of a piece of music and theatre.”

Allen Curnow
Allen Curnow ONZ CBE

LittD 1975

Recognised as one of the most influential and defining voices of New Zealand literature in the 20th century, Allen Curnow’s reputation as a poet and author stands to this day. Between 1937 and 1988, he published 2250 satirical (and very topical) verses in The Press and The New Zealand Herald, under the penname ‘Whim Wham’. Alongside his satire, Allen published 21 volumes of poems, seven of which received New Zealand’s annual Book Award for Poetry. Awarded the Commonwealth Poetry Prize in 1988, the Queen's Gold Medal for Poetry in 1989 and the Cholmondley Award in 1992, Allen was also appointed Commander of the Order of the British Empire in 1986 and to the Order of New Zealand in 1990.

Photo credit: Auckland Libraries Heritage Collections: 34-81 (Clifton Firth)

Daisy Laveo-Timo
Daisy Lavea-Timo

BA 2006, BSc 2006, GradDipTchLn 2010, MBA 2018 

Passionate about young people and ensuring their voices are heard, Daisy Lavea-Timo is helping to ignite people’s imaginations and build social connectedness for Māori and Tagata Moana in her role as Director of Cross-Polynate. An Indigenous social change agent, she aims to enable positive youth development, aiga, and community wellbeing through equity, storytelling, and holding safe spaces for learning and ideation. A poet herself, Daisy believes, “The knowledge in our Sāmoan language and culture is ancient and deep, and orators weave genealogies, history, biblical references, and stories with complex language features and the skill to engage, educate, encourage, entertain and enlighten audiences in a Vā-space where time suspends.”

Photo credit: Joseph O'Sullivan

Doreen Blumhardt
Doreen Blumhardt ONZ DNZM CBE

Christchurch Training College 1939

A passionate ceramist and arts educator, Dame Doreen Blumhardt was one of the most important figures in New Zealand’s arts and crafts world. In 1957 she was one of 15 potters invited to show in New Zealand’s first national pottery exhibition, before co-founding the New Zealand Potter Magazine in 1958. Widely exhibited and in a life crowded with achievement, Doreen used her role in the New Zealand arts community to create the Blumhardt Foundation in 2003, supporting and nurturing the collection and development of craft/object art in NZ. In 2007, Doreen was made a member of New Zealand’s highest honour, the Order of New Zealand.

Louise Henderson
Dame Louise Henderson DBE

DipFA 1931

Born in France, Dame Louise Henderson emigrated and settled in Canterbury when she was 23 years old. Relishing the freedom and opportunities afforded to her here, Louise was attracted to the natural and urban landscapes she is still known for depicting today. By the mid-20th century, Louise was disrupting the arts scene in Aotearoa by utilising a distinctively international and modernist style. Well-travelled, Louise painted throughout the world including back in her native France, Lebanon and Iraq. She was an active painter well into her eighties and a year before her death in 1994, she was appointed a Dame (DBE) for her services to art.

Bill Hammond
Bill Hammond

Studied towards Fine Arts 1969

Born in 1947, Bill Hammond studied at the Ilam School of Fine Arts at UC from 1966 until 1969. He started his career making wooden toys, signs, and jewellery before finding success as the artist we know today. Tackling social and environmental issues, Hammond was considered one of New Zealand's most influential contemporary painters. Hammond passed away in 2021, leaving an incredible legacy for future generations to enjoy. One of his best-known works, Fall of Icarus, is displayed at the Christchurch Art Gallery Te Puna o Waiwhetū.

Photo Credit: Christchurch City Libraries. CCL-StarP-04311A

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