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Dr. Areta


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Dr. Areta Wilkinson’s Biography

Last Updated:
1/09/2023, 12:16 pm
Māori Arts
Arts Foundation Laureate 2022
Ngāi Tahu
Dr. Areta Wilkinson is a contemporary artist who works conceptually. She pushed the boundaries of New Zealand contemporary jewellery by calling herself a Ngāi Tahu jeweller whilst moving freely on and off the body as site, and into the field of installation. Her exquisite works explore art as a form of knowledge and practice with Māori philosophies – especially whakapapa and a worldview informed by Ngāi Tahu perspectives. She quietly crosses disciplines and boundaries with immense skill and perception.

2022 Arts Foundation Te Tumu Toi Laureate receiving the Jillian Friedlander Te Moana-nui-a-Kiwa Award

Over the last three decades, Dr. Areta Wilkinson has developed a significant art practice that investigates the intersection of applied art (contemporary jewellery) as a form of knowledge and practice with Māori philosophies, especially whakapapa and a worldview informed by Ngāi Tahu perspectives. She is inspired by place, and sees her work as a continuous exploration of the narratives that have shaped both her identity and her practice.

Alongside her creative works, Areta has a strong collaborative ethos and supports a community of artists in her orbit. She has worked collectively with groups like Paemanu: Ngāi Tahu Contemporary Visual Arts & Oxford Gallery toi o Waimakariri, worked on partnership projects with artists such as photographer Mark Adams, and supports iwi agencies such as Aukaha charged with inserting Ngāi Tahu visibility into the public realm of Otepoti Dunedin. Areta is an active member of the Māori Womens Welfare League Rāpaki Branch as modelled by her Taua.

Her work is well represented in New Zealand collections including Auckland Art Gallery Toi o Tāmaki, Christchurch Art Gallery Te Puna o Waiwhetū, Tāmaki Paenga Hira Auckland War Memorial Museum and Te Papa Tongarewa Museum of New Zealand, Wellington. Wilkinson currently lives and works in Oxford, New Zealand near the foothills of the Southern Alps.

“The Arts Foundation Award was a huge surprise – a gift out of the blue. The Award comes at a time when I am juggling community projects alongside my own art projects. In truth, right now the patronage of Arts Foundation will help prop my voluntary contribution – call it the redistribution of generosity and 'giving back'."