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Student story

Hamish Petersen

20 July 2023

"Art History and Theory is all-encompassing..."


Bachelor of Arts in Anthropology and Art History and Theory

Bachelor of Arts with Honours in Art History

Studying towards a Master of Arts in Art History, and Māori and Indigenous Studies

Writing and Publications Coordinator, The Physics Room Trust

Hamish hopes their studies and ongoing career in Art History will ‘make a productive contribution to other people’s lives’ by combining the arts with cultural and material impact.

"I have faith in the power of cultural production (art, music, poetry, performance, writing) to change how the world works and a faith in its power to affect people and help them to navigate the world in better ways," he says.

Choosing to study Anthropology and Art History and Theory in the Bachelor of Arts gave them the foundational skills to explore the cultural influence of art works.

"The Art History Department ran a series of lectures while I was in my final year of high school and I thoroughly enjoyed their teaching styles, areas of research, and willingness to push me, and find the things that mattered most to me."

"Art History and Theory is all-encompassing; it engages with any potential issue of culture, theory, and practice in research and cultural production. This allows for a freedom to draw together complicated networks of ideas from all across the spectrum of daily life to better understand how the world works and what I can do within it."

Hamish is grateful to have received support through the Department, and from a UC Arts Scholars Scholarship and a UC College of Arts Honours Scholarship, for the opportunities available through the arts research community at UC. They will be applying for more scholarships, heading in a Master of Arts Research Project.

"The Art History Department is endlessly supportive and willing to offer guidance in whatever area of interest I have wanted to explore. The on-campus presence of Ilam SOFA (The School of Fine Arts) is crucial to the success of the arts on campus as the ideas discussed can be placed in context and in conversation with emerging practitioners immediately, when those opportunities for interaction arise."

One of Hamish’s key goals at university was to explore as many aspects of the arts as possible, which has led to opportunities within clubs and events on campus. This has included lecture seminar series through the Canterbury School of Continental Philosophy, the New Zealand Centre for Human-Animal Studies, conferences run by UC FemSoc/Feminist Society, and being involved in reading groups with the UC Marxist Society. 

These experiences motivated them to continue into an honours degree in Art History and greatly influenced their research studies approaching culture, aesthetics, and decolonising methodologies.

At the end of 2016, Hamish along with two other UC students established Ōtautahi Kōrerotia (ŌK), an artist-run project aiming to foster community action and education within the arts. ŌK organises exhibitions, performances, publications, and workshops primarily located at the Avon Loop Community Cottage.

Hamish was able to gain more experience in organising exhibition spaces through an internship with The Physics Room as part of their honours year. Hamish’s role involved coordinating and editing articles for the first edition of HAMSTER contemporary arts journal, which later led to employment continuing the journal, and helping with gallery installation and hosting.

"I was deeply involved in this new project, and due to the flexibility of the PACE 495 programme and my part-time study, I was able to take on more hours as required to make the project happen. I was given responsibility within the industry I study to carry out a project with artists and writers from around Aotearoa, which has proved to be an invaluable opportunity. The internship programme also offered me the chance to undertake a research project for credit in my honours course relating directly to the field of activity I had been involved in."

"Everyone taking Art History should look into opportunities for an internship as it offers the chance to place the ideas discussed in class into direct conversation with the experience of arts practice and management in a variety of forms in Ōtautahi."

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