Tuesday, October 25, 2016

….and statistics

The Frances Hodgkins Fellowship is fifty years old. The fiftieth Fellow was recently announced as Campbell Patterson from Auckland. Looking back, the list of artists over those fifty years is a mix of well-known names peppered with a fair number of who-the-hell-was-that? Still it stands as a good example of how representation has changed, well for women anyway. For the first twenty years there were only five women Frances Hodgkins Fellows (so many ironies in just three words) but over the next twenty years this changed dramatically with 45 percent of the ‘Fellows’ being women and over the last ten years, 50 percent. 

For people identifying as Maori the situation has been a little less encouraging: six out of the fifty spots. This certainly makes the media release announcing Campbell Patterson’s success somewhat ingenuous. It gives examples of past celebrated winners as ‘Ralph Hotere, Grahame Sydney, Marilynn Webb, Fiona Pardington, Shane Cotton and Heather Straka’. Ok, this selection represents the 50 percent women thing (although over the full 50 years it has only been 38 percent) but to have 67 percent of the list as Maori stars is a plain misrepresentation of who have been awarded the Fellowship. And once you note that Shane Cotton was the last Maori to be awarded the Frances Hodgkins Fellowship and that was back 18 years ago, you have to wonder what’s going on. And then, boom! it comes to you. Marketing, got to love it.

Image: Campbell Patterson, 2017 Frances Hodgkins Fellow