Dame Denise takes on Dunedin 

It’s not every day you’re lucky enough to be visited by a Dame. 

But two fortunate groups of artists in Dunedin got just that – gaining valuable inside knowledge from a legend, Dame Denise L’Estrange-Corbet.

Kicking off the IHC Art Awards 2020 season in style, Dame Denise met five artists working on their entries at IDEA Services’ Art Space.

Art Space hosts between 30 and 35 artists with intellectual disabilities. In recent years Art Space artists have been successful in the Art Awards, some reaching the finals and winning top prizes.

Producing everything from large-scale cardboard structures and spirograph drawings to portraits and splashes of colour, these artists were all gunning for a spot in the top three.

Last year’s winner Becky Donovan was busy working on one of her signature intricately drawn pictures, inspired by a magazine advertisement of a model.

The artists were all quick to tell Dame Denise how much they loved art and attending the art base.

Next stop was a radio interview with Julia Young, an artist turned radio DJ. Julia has a slot on OAR FM Dunedin called The Positivity Show, and Dame Denise told listeners how she loved the diversity of art.

“There are so many mediums you can work in – painting, drawing, sculpture, rug making, knitting, jewellery design – there’s so much creativity,” she said. “Even though, over time, so much art has been painted and drawn and worked on, you still come across art that is unique and so different.”

Studio2 and Margaret Freeman Gallery were next on the itinerary, with a large group of talented artists waiting to greet Dame Denise.

Each artist was given the opportunity to showcase their portfolio as they worked on their latest pieces.

“When I first got to meet the artists, I just fell in love with them and the work they do and how creative and lovely they are,” says Dame Denise. “The most enjoyable thing is, when I travel the country with IHC and go to all the different art centres, it’s really inspirational and wonderful. I’m really excited to see what’s in store for this year.”

Dame Denise, co-founder of internationally acclaimed fashion house WORLD, has been involved with the IHC Art Awards since 2009 and became an Ambassador in 2016.

Returning this year as Art Awards judges are Otis Frizzell, Boh Runga and Tim Walker.

Otis Frizzell is an artist who brings energy, humour and raw talent to all his work regardless of the medium. Boh is a celebrated jewellery designer, with more than 10 years at the helm of Boh Runga, her jewellery ‘Bohtique’. Tim Walker is an Auckland-based arts and culture consultant. 

The start of the 2020 IHC Art Awards has been delayed because of the disruption to artists and art studios by COVID-19.
The plan is to open entries on 1 August. This will be a 'contactless' event with online judging and artworks sold on Trademe. Unfortunately, there will be no gala event this year.

Dame Denise L’Estrange-Corbet and Julia Young, an artist turned radio DJ, do an interview on OAR FM Dunedin.


This story was published in Community Moves. The magazine is posted free to all IHC members.

Read the full issue of Community Moves online here.