Wellington Scoop

Conceptual language buff receives curatorial internship

Press Release – NZ Portrait Gallery

Massey University graduate Robert Laking has been named as the recipient of the 2018 New Zealand Portrait Gallery Liz Stringer Curatorial Internship at the New Zealand Portrait Gallery Te Pūkenga Whakaata.

Having grown up in New Zealand and the United Kingdom, the 23-year-old of German, Pākehā and Māori (Te Whakatōhea) descent, recently completed his Bachelor of Fine Arts with First Class Honours from Massey University where the bi-lingual student developed a fundamental interest in language, conceptualised in art.

Citing influences including Martin F. Emond, Marcel Duchamp, Joseph Kosuth, Martin Creed, Billy Apple and Kenneth Goldsmith, one of Robert’s most intriguing pieces, created during his time at Massey, was a sentence presented as art.

He says he is proud to be placed in the internship, which will support his goal of working internationally as a studio artist and curator.

“The goal is to establish myself as an artist, writer and curator and to work in galleries in New Zealand, England or Germany,” said Robert.

New Zealand Portrait Gallery Director, Jaenine Parkinson, says Robert was selected because they saw significant potential in his ability to bring a fresh perspective and clearly articulate interesting ideas for broad audiences.

Robert is currently working on his first exhibition for the New Zealand Portrait Gallery, titled Worn Identities, which will be presented at Wellington’s Shed 11 in October, displaying portraits where the subject’s personality and identity is conveyed in some way through their clothing or attire.

“I’m putting the show together using collection works as well as works from private collections and potentially works from other institutions,” said Robert.

Robert says he is looking forward to sharing his passion for art during the internship through interactions with visitors, staff and artists.

“For the visitors in particular, I would like to foster valuable experiences,” said Robert.

“I think it’s important that people are able to experience culture, which is not so common anymore.”

Robert Laking will be working part-time as a curator for the New Zealand Portrait Gallery for seven months alongside his work as a studio artist based at Wellington’s MEANWHILE gallery on Willis Street.

The internship was established by New Zealand Portrait Gallery Trustee Liz Stringer in 2017 to give recent graduates essential hands-on experience in exhibition making. New Zealand Portrait Gallery Te Pūkenga Whakaata explores who we are as New Zealanders through the medium of art.

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