Tuesday, June 7, 2011

The NZ Series #17 - Ralph Hotere

Hone Papita Raukura "Ralph" Hotere (1931) is a New Zealand artist of Māori descent (Te Aupōuri iwi). He was born in Mitimiti, Northland and he is widely regarded as one of New Zealand's most important living artists.
Ralp Hotere was educated at Hato Petera College and Auckland Teachers' College, before moving to Dunedin in 1952 to specialise in art. 

After a spell in the Bay of Islands as an arts advisor for the Education Department, Ralph was awarded a New Zealand Art Societies Fellowship to study in London at the Central School of Art in 1961. His time in England proved to be pivotal to his development as an artist. With the art world caught in a wave of general upheaval, which witnessed the advent of Pop Art and, subsequently, Op Art, Hotere found himself both influenced by the new movements and, as an outsider from New Zealand, at enough of a critical distance from what was new andtrendy in British art to develop his own distinctive style. 
Returning to New Zealand in 1965, he began to focus exclusively on his artistic career. Before being awarded the Frances Hodgkins Fellowship and moving to Dunedin permanently in 1969, Ralph had two important solo exhibitions in Auckland: Sangro Paintings and Human Rights (1965) and Black Paintings(1968). 

During the same period he also struck up a relationship with the New Zealand literary world, publishing four drawings in Landfall 78 and designing the cover for Landfall 84, which was to come to full fruition in subsequent years in collaborative works with New Zealand poets.

In 1979, he used his friend Hone Tuwhare's well-known poem Rain to produce Three Banners with Poem, for the Hocken Library. The public appeal of this, and similar works is tremendous: the 1997 exhibition paying tribute to such collaborations, Out the Black Window, opened at the City Gallery in Wellington to an impressive 1200 visitors on the first day.
In 1994 Ralph received an Honorary Doctorate from the University of Otago and in 2006 was awarded Te Taumata Award by Te Waka Toi recognising outstanding leadership and service to Māori arts. 

Ralph lives in Port Chalmers, Dunedin

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