Tag Archives: UC Arts

Maurice Askew (1921-2020)

10th March 2020

By the time Maurice came to New Zealand to teach Design at the University of Canterbury School of Fine Arts in 1962, he had already amassed a lifetime of adventures and a long legacy of ground-breaking creative work.

As an RAF flight engineer on Lancaster Bombers during World War Two, he was shot down over Germany in 1944. Parachuting into a field of snow, he spent the next year and a half marching from one Prisoner of War camp to another. With his wry sense of humour, he once told me that he “…had seen enough of Germany… I don’t feel the need to go back again.”

After the war he had the opportunity, like so many demobbed soldiers, to retrain rather than go back to the old Anglepoise lamp factory that he worked in before his enlistment. He now had the chance to go to art school and follow his love for design and drawing. Subsequently, in the early 1950’s, he was employed by the fledgling Granada Television Studios where he created award-winning animations and amongst other things, was the set designer for the iconic Coronation Street television series.

Teaching was one of Maurice’s passions throughout his life and, in the early sixties, along with Doris his wife and a young family, he embarked on yet another challenge to sail to the other side of the world, to the University of Canterbury and to make Christchurch his new home.

His influence on the shift of design thinking in New Zealand in the 1960’s has been highly underrated but can be seen most strikingly in a series of decimal currency stamps from 1971 especially if compared to earlier designs. Here, Maurice was part of the winning design team alongside a number of recent graduates. During this time he worked on many other design projects such as the University of Canterbury Centenary and the 1974 Commonwealth Games held in Christchurch. The 1970’s was also a time when the Court Theatre evolved and part of their success was due to the vibrant theatre sets designed by Maurice.

By 1975 the demand by his students for film-making was so great that a separate Film Studio at Ilam was created. It remains arguably the oldest Film School in the country and I am very proud to say that it is still going strong today. Amongst its early students, it included NZ directors Vincent Ward and Gaylene Preston as well as the famous Australian producer Timothy White.

Maurice retired from UC in early 1981 and started yet another creative chapter in his life illustrating a number of children’s books and developing his distinctive watercolour style as he rendered striking landscapes locally, and from all over the world.

It is during this time that I first met Maurice who was still heavily involved in the Canterbury Film Society that he revitalised in the 1960’s. I will always remember his wonderful sense of humour and his kind, gentle and generous mentoring which stayed with him right until the end.

John Chrisstoffels
Senior Lecturer in Film
School of Fine Arts

Antigua Boatsheds 1990 M.V.Askew

Campus Experiences for Kids

During the October school holidays the Children’s University team ran 5 campus experience events at UC, Lincoln University and ARA. These experiences allow children and their parents the opportunity to participate in fun, educational activities on campus.

The two UC experiences were hosted by the College of Arts and the College of Science and activities included a drumming workshop, exploring the Teece Museum, learning about the brain and communication, checking out biological sciences displays and an activity with the Centre for Entrepreneurship. Thank you to the academics and students who ran the activities.

If you would like to be involved with the Children’s University programme in 2020 please contact Amy on amy.underdown@canterbury.ac.nz.

 

       

Christchurch Press Archives

The College of Arts has a large selection of The Christchurch Press Archives, covering the period from the 1950s through to 1971, that it needs to dispose of.

These are bound copies of The Christchurch Press often covering three months in one volume. They are currently in storage so if you have any interest in viewing them or taking one or more home then please contact  louisa.peterson@canterbury.ac.nz to arrange a time to view.

These all need to be cleared from Locke by Friday October 11. 

Introducing UC Classics guests

We’ve been delighted to host Oxford Fellows, Dr. Bill Allan and Dr. Laura Swift, over the course of summer. They have been such great company to have around the department and have offered our students a chance to learn from international academics. We are sad to see them leave! We thought we’d have a chat with them so you can get to know a bit more about what the Oxford Fellowship offers.

 Bill currently teaches at the University of Oxford, Laura teaches at the Open University UK and they have very much enjoyed their sabbatical in Christchurch with their daughter Iona.

  • How did you end up being in New Zealand for the summer?

Bill: The Oxford Fellowship between the University of Oxford and UC works really well because you can go for up to three months – and it could be any time of the year – so obviously we’d prefer to be here in the summer, especially because the last time we were here, was in the North Island in winter. And of course, we also wanted to see the South Island.

Laura: We were thinking about if there was somewhere in Australia or New Zealand that we could go to and then when we saw the Oxford Fellowship scheme, which is administered through the Erskine Programme Office at UC, I thought it would be much nicer to feel like we had a connection to the institution and it would be easier to get to know people and get to know the country a bit.

Bill: Yes, because a part of the Oxford Fellowship is that you’re expected to be contributing which is good, because if you go to a department as a visitor you’re simply just there; you might meet people, you might not.

  • What was your field of study while studying yourselves?

Bill: As an undergraduate in Edinburgh I did Latin, Greek and Celtic studies. The Scottish education system is four years, and then you specialise in 3rd and 4th year, so I narrowed it down to Latin and Greek. I did my doctorate in Oxford on Greek tragedy – not as good as Laura’s – but it passed. And now I do Greek tragedy & Homeric epic.

Laura: I did a Classics degree at Oxford, which is basically the languages, literature, ancient history and philosophy. I then did my doctorate on Greek tragedy and the tragic chorus so now my work is on Greek tragedy and early Greek poetry.

  • Currently what are you researching and teaching in the UK?

Laura: I’ve just finished a commentary on a Greek poet called Archilochus who was composing in the 7th century BC, and he was famous in antiquity for writing abuse poetry. Poetry that attacked named people – possibly not real people, fictional characters. But he was famous for writing attacks and also quite erotic, vulgar poetry; kind of sex scenes and erotic narratives. He actually had a very broad range but later he was famous for being a foul-mouthed abuse poet. I’ve just sent that off to Oxford University Press so it should be coming out at the end of 2018.

Bill: The last thing I was involved in was a new translation of Homer’s Odyssey, for Oxford World’s Classics by Oxford University Press, where I did the introduction and notes. I’m now working on an edition for the Green and Yellow Series (Cambridge University Press), and I’m doing an anthology of early Greek elegy and iambus. That’ll come out in a couple of years’ time.

  • What are your other interests?

Laura: We both like walking, so that’s been great here as there’s so much scenery nearby. We really enjoy going out to the Port Hills; there’s lovely scenery around Oxford in the UK, but it takes a bit longer to get out there. I’m into sewing and knitting so I enjoy making clothes for our three-year-old, knitting stuff for me and everybody else I know.

Bill: I love cycling, it’s a shame I don’t have a bike here, I’ve got withdrawal symptoms. Keeping fit, jogging quite a bit, I’ve been around the Ilam fields and university. We both do yoga in Britain: one of the occupational hazards of being an academic is you sit around a lot and get terrible back pain. We’ve joined a yoga club here, so we go there twice a week. I play the trumpet so I try and toot away for half an hour each day. Of course, there’s always the joy of hanging out with Iona.

Laura: Beaches and playgrounds are good for that. We’ve taken her to the Margaret Mahy playground and it was great. The splash pools in New Brighton and the Botanic Gardens are good too.

  • What differences and similarities have you noticed between teaching here and in the UK or other institutions?

Bill: The main difference for me is that in Oxford I do one formal lecture a week and the rest of my teaching is tutorials, either one on one or groups of two or three students. Summer school is a kind of in between, more seminar style teaching, and you can get more debate going. When studying at Oxford you are a member of an academic individual college, there are about 39 or 40 in Oxford. It’s where you live, where you work, your entire life is based there, so it’s more than just a hall of residence.

Laura: My university just does distance learning, so there is very limited direct contact with students. The job is more about creating the study materials, which might be a mixture of books but also audio recordings or video or interactive exercises that they’ll then work from. It takes about three years to create a module once it goes through various university committees and the assessment processes have all been agreed. It’s quite a long process, but then the module is supposed to stay the same with some moderating and updating of assessments.

  • What have you enjoyed most about Christchurch so far?

Bill: Flat whites. The coffee is really good!

Laura: It’ll be a shock going back to Britain where the coffee is not as good. You know it’s good in a London café when all the NZ and Australian students go there. I think also the setting of the city is great – it’s so easy to get to the beach, there’s great natural scenery and everything you need in town.

Bill: Everything, no matter how far away, seems to be only a 20-minute drive, it’s great. It’s a lovely city for quality of life, and it obviously helps that we’re here in the summer.

  • What are you looking forward to about going home?

Bill: Not having to take a second mortgage to buy cheese and dairy. It’s so ironic because NZ is huge for dairy export.

Laura: The timing will be nice because we’ve had the summer here and will be returning just as it’s starting to get nice, and spring can be really lovely. It will be nice to get back to our house. Normally my mum comes up to do a day with our daughter, so it will be nice to be back close to family.

  • Any other thoughts on your visit here?

Bill: Culturally what’s been really interesting about Christchurch is seeing how it’s been recovering with all the building works and projects that are going on in town.

Laura: It makes you realise how big the destruction was and how it’s now seven years on and there’s still loads to do, and it makes you think how it would have been a couple of weeks after. I think it’s culturally interesting as well because NZ is such a long way, like the furthest you can go, but there are some many things about it that are so similar. I feel at home more here than in the US for example, where you definitely feel like a foreigner. It seems even just linguistically there are fewer words that are different.

Bill and Laura shared the teaching of ‘Theatre and Performance in the Ancient World’ during their visit here. They also each presented a seminar that was open to the public – and well attended. Laura’s was on ‘What’s new about the newest Sappho poem?’, and Bill presented ‘Solon on Civil War’. Both were also involved in a very lively panel discussion with other academic staff from Humanities on Tyranny and Crises of Democracy: Lessons from Antiquity. Their valuable contributions to the College of Arts and the Department of Classics have been appreciated by staff and students alike.

UC Arts Digital Lab launches QuakeStudies 2.0

The UC Arts Digital Lab launched a new and improved UC QuakeStudies earthquake research repository last week (www.quakestudies.canterbury.ac.nz).  

QuakeStudies, UC’s major contribution to the CEISMIC Canterbury Earthquakes Digital Archive (www.ceismic.org.nz/about), contains photographs, documents, videos, audio recordings, media articles, and other material relating to the 2010/2011 Canterbury earthquakes. 

Each item in the repository is accompanied by high-quality human-curated metadata such as descriptions, geolocations, and dates and times, offering rich datasets for researchers from a range of disciplines to draw on.

The project to update the QuakeStudies online platform was undertaken by the UC Arts Digital Lab in collaboration with local open source technologists Catalyst IT. The new QuakeStudies platform, built on the Islandora digital repository system, boasts enhanced searchability, improved document viewing tools, and a cleaner, more user-friendly layout offering greater navigability.

The launch event was held in the UC Arts City Location in the Arts Centre’s old Chemistry building, and was attended by representatives of the CEISMIC consortium from Christchurch City Council, Canterbury Museum and Christchurch City Libraries, contributors to the archive such as the All Right? campaign, and UC researchers keen to hear how the new QuakeStudies can assist them in their research.

The Arts Digital Lab hopes researchers will find the new platform easier to search for, view, and download content that is of interest to them. Additionally, much of the content housed in QuakeStudies has been released under Creative Commons licenses, making it easier for researchers to reuse content in their own work.

Researchers interested in exploring the breadth of content in QuakeStudies are encouraged to discuss their needs with Arts Digital Lab staff.  With around 150,000 items in the repository, of which 12,000 are available only to approved researchers, the Lab team can help guide you to the content that will be most useful for your research.

Six years on from the initial launch of QuakeStudies in 2012 the repository is still going strong, and it continues to grow and receive new content. This new upgrade ensures that the ongoing preservation of digital archival materials relating to the earthquakes will continue long into the future.

Explore the collections at www.quakestudies.canterbury.ac.nz/