30 Nov 2011
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Christchurch author and curator Justin Paton has been awarded the 2012 Katherine Mansfield Menton Fellowship. Currently Senior Curator at Christchurch Art Gallery, Justin is best known to New Zealanders as the author of the acclaimed book How to Look at a Painting and as the presenter of the accompanying television series, seen this year on TV1.
Paton, who has been described as ‘New Zealand’s most readable art critic’, has written widely about the visual arts. In Menton, however, he plans to turn his attention to a book about ‘shelter, memory, belonging and place’.
‘Art will play a part, but the focus is broader. Being in Christchurch this year has got me thinking about the meaning of “home”. Not just the physical sense of home, but all the intangible stuff – the values and memories – bound up in the idea. That’s what I want to explore.’
On receiving the Fellowship, Paton says: ‘It’s an amazing thing to have to look forward to. It means time and it means perspective – a chance to reflect on “home” while away from home. It means experiencing a part of the world I don’t know. And it’s scary in a good way – trying to live up to the honour.’
The Katherine Mansfield Menton Fellowship, previously known as the New Zealand Post Mansfield Prize, is one of New Zealand's longest-standing and most prestigious literary opportunities for established and mid-career New Zealand writers.
The Chair of the Winn-Manson Menton Trust Richard Cathie expressed the trustees' delight at Paton's selection. `Justin plans some interesting work in Menton. His application was compelling and he is a fitting addition to the long line of distinguished writers who have benefitted from time working there.'
Justin Paton is one of New Zealand's foremost curators and art writers and between 1999 and 2005 was editor of the journal of arts and letters Landfall. The author of books on artists including Ricky Swallow, Jeffrey Harris, Julia Morison and Jude Rae, he has written for many catalogues and publications in New Zealand and internationally. His books about Jeffrey Harris and Julia Morison were both finalists in the Montana New Zealand Book Awards and in 2006 his book How to Look at a Painting (Awa Press) won the Lifestyle and Contemporary Culture category in the awards.
Paton is also a highly respected curator, whose recent exhibitions include De-Building at Christchurch Art Gallery and Unguided Tours at the Art Gallery of New South Wales in Sydney.
The fellowship offers a residency of at least six months in Menton, France and NZ$75,000. The support of the city of Menton enables a New Zealand author to work at the Villa Isola Bella where Katherine Mansfield lived and wrote during the latter part of her life.
Established in 1970, there have been 42 recipients of this fellowship including: Janet Frame, Michael King, Lloyd Jones, Witi Ihimaera, Vincent O'Sullivan, Owen Marshall, Philip Temple Dame Fiona Kidman, Jenny Pattrick, Ken Duncum and the 2011 recipient Chris Price.
This is an initiative of the Winn-Manson Menton Trust and is administered by Creative New Zealand.
The Trust gratefully acknowledges a $25,000 grant from the New Zealand/France Friendship Fund and a $10,000 grant from Creative New Zealand towards the 2012 residency.