Top honours for multi-talented academic

21 December 2021 | News

A Te Whare Wānaka o Aoraki Lincoln University academic is finishing the year on a high note, having won a recent national art writing prize, a teaching excellence award and the Critic and Conscience of Society Award for 2021.

Landscape Architecture Professor Jacky Bowring, a long-standing Lincoln staff member and alumnus, specialises in memories and memorials and has been part of the public discussion about rebuilding Christchurch after the 2011 earthquake.

The inaugural Michèle Whitecliffe Art Writing Prize, established to encourage debate about New Zealand’s visual arts, was recently awarded to Professor Bowring by Auckland Art Gallery Toi o Tāmaki. Her winning essay, Art Therapy, explored the ways that public space is impacted by a range of statues, and how responses such as the destruction of memorials can have a countereffect on the ongoing dialogues around equity and justice.

The essay will be published in the Auckland Gallery’s Art Toi magazine.

The competition was judged by international art critic Charles Darwent, who writes for The Guardian and presented the Netflix series, Raiders of the Lost Art.

Mr Darwent said in a press release from the Auckland Art Gallery that Professor Bowring’s essay challenged accepted wisdom by asking the question, ‘what if art is actually not therapeutic but harmful’?

“It’s easy enough to catch the eye with a snappy first line, far harder to sustain interest having done so,” he pointed out.

“What impressed me about Art Therapy was its consistent and intelligent sacrificing of sacred cows. There was no falling back on easy assumptions, no reaching for critical jargon. The piece is also not afraid to entertain. I hugely enjoyed this essay and came away thinking differently because of it.”

Professor Bowring said the competition was the perfect catalyst to write about issues that she had been reflecting on in relation to statues and public art.

“As a landscape architect, I’m really interested in public spaces and how they are a mirror of culture in many ways, including how statues are so potent in their weighty symbolism.”

Professor Bowring’s teaching skills also received recognition recently, with a Lincoln University Excellence in Education Award presented at an end-of-year ceremony on campus last week.

Dedicated to carrying out research-informed teaching with strong course design and delivery, she is known for devoting care and attention to students’ learning needs.

In a nomination statement, a PhD student who was supervised by Professor Bowring said her excellence in teaching was driven by her “keen concern and sensitivity for students’ needs, her enormous knowledge and consistent enthusiasm”.

“Almost all her current and past students share a common feeling with me that she has been making a huge difference in our knowledge-building, our attitudes towards learning and researching, and even working and living beyond our days at uni,” the student said.

“Being taught and supervised by Jacky is the best thing I’ve ever experienced at Lincoln. She truly deserves this award.”

Professor Bowring was also the recipient of the Critic and Conscience of Society Award at Lincoln University’s end-of-year event, in recognition of her contribution to, and influence in, the field of design – from the local to international scale, and across academic and professional realms.

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