Merit win draws attention to high standard of Whitireia visual arts

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The winner of one of two merit awards in the Dowse Art Museum’s recent Student Craft Design Awards, Anje Craig, says she hopes her win will draw some well-deserved attention to Whitireia Community Polytechnic’s Department of Visual Arts. Anje lives in Te Horo and has been a drummer for 15 years and is currently with a band called Montywolf which plays gigs around the lower north island.

Anje Craig 2005

Anje Craig

"It would be great if it raises the profile of the clay and sculpture work we do," says the third-year Visual Arts and Design diploma student. “I think the standard here is really high."

Whitireia is currently attempting to gain accreditation to offer an applied arts degree. If that bid is successful, that degree course could start as early as next year.

Anje won the award – the second year in a row Whitireia has had a merit winner in the awards – for her ceramic installation Udu Drum Stack.

The work features ten udu drums that interlock to form a single three-sided installation standing around a metre high. Each of the earthenware drums can be played; Anje is also an experienced drummer and made a CD of the drum music. That CD provided a backdrop soundtrack when the work was exhibited at Pataka last year as part of the students end of year exhibition.

Anje says her ceramic installation is multi-layered. “It was about family and about our family origins, and our own personal origins. There are lots of layers, one of which was the interlocking of the family unit,” she says.

Just as a family grows up and leaves home, Anje’s ten udu drums have also now dispersed throughout the land: two were sold on the opening night of the Pataka exhibition and two others have sold since. “I’m keeping track of them and it could be that one day I hold a drum reunion exhibition,” she says.

The awards were open to tertiary students throughout the country. Entrants were required to put together a presentation of their work using up to four A3 panels accompanied by a 500-word essay.

Anje’s tutor, Visual Arts programme manager Anne Philbin, says the win is confirmation that Whitireia students are working at “a very high level. It’s good that the community sees this and that this is recognised.” Anne Philbin describes Anje has having all the hallmarks of a top Whitireia student. "I think she shows a unique insight into how music and art can be combined. Anje is also a musician and the drums she makes in clay she actually uses."

Anne Philbin praised the Friends of the Dowse, which sponsors the awards. "New Zealand doesn’t really have a craft design base such as we had in the Eighties with the Craft Council. The Dowse is a leader in craft design and they need congratulating for picking up and running with this."

Anje Craig's Udu Drum Stack

Anje Craig's Udu Drum Stack