Marilynn Webb receives honorary doctorate — 08.06.10

The University of Otago confered an honorary degree of Doctor of Laws on Dunedin-based artist, art educator and Arts Foundation Governor Marilynn Webb, Saturday, 22 May 2010. Marilynn delivered the graduation address.

Vice-Chancellor Professor David Skegg says Ms Webb is widely considered to be one of New Zealand's most distinguished and influential artists.

"Since early in her long career as an artist, Marilynn Webb has earned an international reputation for her highly distinctive printmaking. She has won numerous national and international awards and many of her works are held in private, public and corporate collections throughout the world," Professor Skegg says.

The Norwegian Contemporary Graphic Museum and the US Library of Congress are among the institutions in which her work is represented. Her art has also been exhibited extensively throughout New Zealand and internationally in Australia, the United States, India, Japan, Yugoslavia, Germany, Italy, Norway, Spain and the United Kingdom.

On numerous occasions and over four decades, Ms Webb has represented New Zealand at significant print and graphic arts biennales.

Over the years, her art has explored concepts of land, ecology, politics, women in art, and Māori and post-colonial history in ways designed to be easily accessible to the community.

"In tandem with her prolific artistic output, which includes striking pastel landscapes as well as her impeccably crafted prints, she has been at the forefront of art education in New Zealand for half a century," Professor Skegg says.

For some 30 years she taught art at secondary and tertiary levels in Dunedin. From 1988, she lectured in printmaking at the Otago Polytechnic School of Art and in 2004 was made an Emeritus Principal Lecturer at the School.

She has served as a member of the National Education Monitoring Project for the Ministry of Education and the University's Educational Assessment Research Unit. She is also a Governor of the Arts Foundation of New Zealand.

Ms Webb was born in Grey Lynn, Auckland, and was educated at Opotiki College, Ardmore Teachers' College, the University of Auckland and in 1957, at the Dunedin College of Education.

She then worked as an arts adviser for the Department of Education in Auckland and Northland and for the Northern Maori Project, which encouraged contemporary Māori art. During the late 1960s she ran teacher-training courses in Fiji and helped develop the arts curriculum there.

In 1974, Ms Webb was awarded the Frances Hodgkins Fellowship at the University of Otago where she began the development of her pastel work.

She has created several notable series of works on paper, woodcuts, paintings and pastel studies based on southern wilderness areas, including Lake Mahinerangi, the Ida Valley, Fiordland and Stewart Island. Most of her works reflect her passionate environmentalism and love of New Zealand's unspoilt southern landscapes.

In 2000 she was made an Officer of the New Zealand Order of Merit for her services to art and art education.