Arts Foundation's 2010 Award for Patronage recipients announced — 29.04.10

Gus & Irene Fisher are the recipients of the fifth annual Arts Foundation of New Zealand Award for Patronage. The Award is sponsored by Forsyth Barr.

Photo: Gus Fisher - the NZer Sept 1980 with model Dianne Boles (nee Martin).

Gus & Irene Fisher are the recipients of the fifth annual Arts Foundation of New Zealand Award for Patronage. The Award is sponsored by Forsyth Barr. Honoured for their significant contributions to the arts as patrons, Gus Fisher is also well known in the fashion world as the leader of the House of El Jay for 50 years.

To celebrate the Award, the Arts Foundation gave Gus and Irene Fisher $20,000 to donate to artists or arts projects of their choosing. As with previous recipients, the Fishers initially doubled the amount for distribution with $20,000 of their own and announced that they would make four donations of $10,000 each. However, in a surprise announcement on the evening, Gus Fisher announced an extra recipient and a further $10,000 donation.

The donation recipients are fashion designers Beth Ellery and Emilia Wickstead. Also acknowledged are visual artists Michael Smither and Andrew McLeod and posthumous recognition of painter Pat Hanly (1932-2004). 

The Award was presented at a small, intimate function at the Gus Fisher Art Gallery, Auckland, which was founded and endowed by Gus and Irene. The ceremony featured a catwalk show of a House of El Jay garment from the 1980s. It was worn by Dianne Boles who also modelled the garment at its original release. 

In addition to producing their own garments, the House of El Jay enjoyed the distinction of making and distributing clothes for Christian Dior in New Zealand. The upcoming exhibition Looking Terrific: The Story of El Jay, curated by Doris de Pont, celebrates Gus' achievements as the head the House of El Jay (Gus Fisher Gallery, 4 June to 17 July).

Ros Burdon, Chairman of the Arts Foundation, congratulated Gus and Irene for their donation recipient selections. "It is wonderful for the Foundation to celebrate Pat Hanly, who was one of our most significant painters alongside an artist in early career, Andrew McLeod. Andrew is a great talent with an exciting future. We are thrilled that for the first time we are honouring fashion designers as artists. Emilia Wickstead has an amazing international career and Beth Ellery is bursting out of the local scene. They are exciting selections and are typical of the insight of the Fishers."

"Near enough is not good enough, you must always strive for excellence." It is this philosophy of always seeking to achieve the best quality possible that has informed the philanthropy of the Fishers. They choose their causes with care and donate generously so that their gift offers the potential to achieve excellent outcomes.

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