18 August 2011
Three Elam artists share top watercolourist prize
Three students from The University of Auckland’s Elam School of Fine Arts will share one of the country’s top prizes for
Wei (Rose) Yu-Ting, Sandra Bushby and Jennifer Clements will evenly split the Henrietta and Lola Anne Tunbridge
Scholarship, an award worth $10,000 that is given annually to an Elam artist (or artists) who excels in the exploration
of contemporary themes in watercolour.
Lola Anne Tunbridge, who died in 1999, was an avid watercolourist who wished to support aspiring artists in this medium.
For the first time this year, all 30 entries to this year’s scholarship are on display at Elam’s gallery, Projectspace
B431. Elam alumnus and respected painter Julian Hooper joined James Cousins, also a respected painter and a staff member
at Elam, to adjudicate the show. Both judges agreed the calibre of artwork was high. Julian Hooper noted that all
submissions included an artist statement that provided an important context in which to view the works.
“Contemporary art practice is so diverse, it needs to be seen and understood within the context it was made. The winners
were chosen partly because the execution of the work has been very successful, but also because it is congruent with the
conceptual underpinnings of the work,” says Julian Hooper, whose artworks are held in collections in New Zealand and
Wei (Rose) Yu-Ting, a 4th year BFA(Hons) student, uses watercolour – a medium she describes as “unforgiving” – to
highlight the “satirical mimicry” of hypermasculinity and euphemisms used to describe carnal pleasures. She has created
detailed Victorian borders that frame sexually-charged phrases, using “careful brushstrokes” to downplay the looseness
of the watercolour medium and “reclaim female agency with indirect speech”.
Sandra Bushby (MFA student) explores the idea that “water and contemporary watercolours are both a bodily experience”.
Her abstract designs for Poole Pottery (an English pottery manufacturer) are expressions of the tensions within
watercolour as a medium: “The intention in the process is precise while simultaneously aiming for movement, floating and
MFA student Jennifer Clements draws parallels with her fascination with the sport of boxing and the act of painting. The
“fistfight” that ensues involves the paper itself as her “opponent”; she, the artist/fighter administers a series of
“jabs” and “parrys” that result in “haemorrhaging” effects on the paper. Jennifer notes that evidence of the
confrontation “only shows itself when the drying process is at an end”.
“The incredible generosity of the Tunbridge Scholarship certainly provides an incentive, and the stipulation of
watercolour as the medium throws down a challenge, for today’s fine arts students, engaged as they are with new media
and contemporary art concepts and practices. Yet undaunted by the weight of tradition and expectation that hangs over
watercolour, many Elam students have risen to this opportunity to investigate the medium and expand their practice. This
year’s results are amazing – confident, innovative, fresh and joyous,” says Head of Elam, Professor Jonathan
The scholarship is awarded by the Henrietta and Lola Anne Tunbridge Charitable Trust, which is administered by trustee
and wealth management company Guardian Trust.
The University of Auckland’s National Institute of Creative Arts and Industries comprises the School of Architecture and
Planning, Elam School of Fine Arts, the Centre for New Zealand Art Research and Discovery (CNZARD), the School of Music
and the Dance Studies Programme.