Five new Icon artists announced — 24.06.11

Five of New Zealand's most acclaimed artists have been honoured for their extraordinary artistic achievements at the Arts Foundation's prestigious Icon Awards.

The 2011 Icon Award recipients are writer Barbara Anderson, photographer Marti Friedlander, filmmaker Sir Peter Jackson, sculptor Greer Twiss and concert organist Dame Gillian Weir.

Recipients were announced on 23 June at a function held at Government House in Wellington hosted by Their Excellencies, Rt Hon Sir Anand Satyanand, Governor-General of New Zealand and Patron of the Arts Foundation, and Lady Susan Satyanand.

The Icon Awards are limited to a living circle of 20 stellar New Zealand artists and are the Arts Foundation's highest honour.  Twenty-six artists have been honoured at previous ceremonies; the 2011 Awards re-establish a living circle of 20 recipients.

Arts Foundation chairperson Fran Ricketts said "the work of Icon artists represents a legacy to, and a mark on, New Zealand culture.  They have made a significant impact on their chosen art form, remain influential and often have achieved amazing international success. Each artist is celebrated for their extraordinary achievements and collectively they make a powerful statement about the quality of New Zealand artists."

The Arts Foundation has appointed Sir Eion and Jan, Lady Edgar as Patrons of the Icon Awards.  After Sir Eion's retirement as a Trustee in 2010, the Edgars made a remarkable $500,000 donation to the Foundation.

Sir Eion has long been a champion of the Icon Awards and says "too often our most celebrated artists have gone without recognition. The Icon Awards offer New Zealanders the opportunity to congratulate our most accomplished artists on their achievements and to celebrate their work with them. This is an important function for any developed society and one that Jan and I are proud to be associated with."

2011 recipients:

Acclaimed writer Barbara Anderson has won many awards for her books, in New Zealand and internationally. UK reviewer, Nick Hornby, was so inspired by Barbara's work that he claimed it was only a matter of time before Wellington replaced New York as the centre of the literary world.

Marti Friedlander
began taking photographs professionally in 1964 and is responsible for some of New Zealand's most iconic photographs. She is very well known for her 1972 collaboration with Michael King, Moko: the art of Maori tattooing.

Film-maker Sir Peter Jackson won international attention early in his career with horror comedies such as Bad Taste and Braindead, before coming to mainstream prominence with Heavenly Creatures, The Lord of the Rings trilogy and King Kong.

Greer Twiss
has been creating bronze sculptures for fifty years and was a pioneer of bronze casting in New Zealand.  His sculptures are included in all major public collections in New Zealand and many private collections here and abroad.


Dame Gillian Weir is a world-renowned concert organist who has performed internationally in the most prestigious concert houses, has sold thousands of recordings and reached an audience of millions as a broadcaster in a BBC series about the organ called The King of Instruments.

Each Icon received a medallion and pin designed by stone sculptor John Edgar.  The artist has the pin forever, while the medallion is presented to a successor. Previously awarded medallions were distributed at the Awards as follows:    Don Selwyn's medallion was passed to Barbara Anderson; Diggeress Te Kanawa's to Sir Peter Jackson; Pakariki Harrison's to Marti Friedlander; Don Peebles' to Greer Twiss and Hone Tuwhare's to Dame Gillian Weir.

Previously Awarded Icons:

Raymond Boyce    Len Castle   Janet Frame (1924 - 2004)    Maurice Gee    Peter Godfrey   Patricia Grace   Alexander Grant    Dr Pakariki Harrison (1928 - 2008)  Ralph Hotere    Russell Kerr  Margaret Mahy    Sir Donald McIntyre  Milan Mrkusich   Donald Munro    Don Peebles (1922 - 2010)    Don Selwyn (1935 - 2007)  Diggeress Te Kanawa (1920 - 2009)       Hone Tuwhare (1922 - 2008)    Sir Miles Warren     Ans Westra - Ans received Janet Frame's medallion  Arnold Manaaki Wilson

All Icon Award event images were taken by Ken Baker