Announcing the 2016 Blue Oyster Summer Writing Resident:

Robyn Maree Pickens

By Blue Oyster Gallery | Posted: Monday October 17, 2016

With support from the Quarantine Island Kamau Taurua Community, Dunedin-based writer Robyn Maree Pickens will be spending 4 weeks on the Island in November and December, producing a body of writing as a response to the Island as an amalgam: of nature and culture; of sea and land; of relative isolation and new faces. Pickens writes:

“The Island is a pocket; a pocket with a Keeper and fleeting visitors. The Island pocket is itself the protagonist: the sounds, breath, moment, rise, fall, scent, ocean. I am interested in how the land and sea might rear up and wear into my sensory consciousness.”

The outcome of the residency will be published online in 2017 through the Blue Oyster’s biannual Online Publications initiative thanks to programme support from Creative New Zealand.

Robyn has a Masters in Art History, and has worked in galleries and project spaces including Artspace, Auckland (2009-2010). Her writing has appeared in Art New Zealand, Art News, The Physics Room Annual, Enjoy Gallery's Occasional Journal, North Projects, The Press, and in exhibition catalogues. Currently she is an art reviewer for the Otago Daily Times, and is working towards applying for a practice-based Ph.D in the English Department in the field of digital poetry at the University of Otago in 2017.

A remnant of the ancient Dunedin volcano, Quarantine Island/Kamau Taurua sits in the heart of the Otago Harbour and can only be accessed via boat from Port Chalmers or Portobello. In its bush clad, pre-European time it was used by local Māori as a place to camp while collecting kaimoana. From 1863 to 1924 it became known as the Otago Quarantine Station, the first place ashore for many thousands of settlers on route to their new lives in Aotearoa. It was also used as a military hospital during World War One. Today the Island is a public recreation reserve jointly managed by the Department of Conservation and the voluntary QI/KT Community, who as kaitiaki of the Island employ a Keeper to manage the restoration of several historic buildings and host thousands of visitors a year who travel by boat to learn about conservation and history on the Island.

Motivated to support and promote diverse perspectives and healthy debate around arts culture in New Zealand, the Blue Oyster Summer Writing Residency has been designed to foster creative and critically engaged writing practices around contemporary art, offering the Resident an opportunity to develop and publish an extended text within the field of contemporary art criticism from Dunedin, Aotearoa’s first City of Literature. Click here to read 2015 Summer Writing Resident Matilda Fraser’s Against Efficiency.


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