Student profile: Hanahiva Rose


Hanahiva Rose is an honours student in Art History at Victoria. She was 2017 visual arts editor at Salient and her writing has appeared in publications published by Adam Art Gallery Te Pātaka Toi, Enjoy Public Art Gallery, and Tautai Pacific Arts Trust, among others. She holds roles at the Adam Art Gallery and New Zealand Portrait Gallery and for the last few months has been working as a research assistant for the exhibition Oceania, set to open at the  Royal Academy of Arts in London later this year. Hanahiva is a participant in Extended Conversations, a year-long writing programme co-convened by Enjoy Public Art Gallery and Blue Oyster Project Space, being mentored by curator and writer Matariki Williams.

Hanahiva’s thesis focuses on the 2003-4 exhibition IKA and thanks for all the IKA and the social and political forces that shape how we define contemporary Pacific art in Aotearoa, co-supervised by Dr Peter Brunt and Dr Raymond Spiteri. Though her research interests lie in the Pacific region, she has been taught by almost the entire Art History faculty, who have all been rigorous in their teaching and generous in their support. Pippa Wisheart has been a crucial point of contact across her study, as she is to so many students.

Hanahiva studies art history because she firmly believes there are many histories yet to be told. The relationships between art and identity-making are particularly charged in countries with histories of contact, suppression, and adaption like our own. The skills of analysis which art history offer in this regard are invaluable. For Hanahiva, her study in the department has been an opportunity to become dynamically involved with who we are and imagine ourselves to be. There is much work being done and to be done in identifying the many gaps and silences in the narratives we have been told; and in forging new pathways forward.




Alumni profile: Courtney Johnston


A proud graduate of the Art History department (Master of Arts, 2004), Courtney Johnston has been director of The Dowse Art Museum and Petone Settlers Museum in Lower Hutt. She’s also chair of New Zealand’s national museums association, Museums Aotearoa; chair of the arts advocacy group Arts Wellington; chair of the board of The Pantograph Punch; and a regular commentator on visual arts and culture for outlets including Art News New Zealand and Radio New Zealand.

Though she still thinks of herself as a closet art historian and nerdily edits Wikipedia pages about New Zealand artists in her spare time, Courtney is the first New Zealand museum director to come primarily from a digital technology background, with deep expertise in user-centred design, Agile methodologies, and experience running a mid-sized web agency as well as working in a range of New Zealand cultural institutions. It just goes to show that studying art history can lead you to your end goal in mysterious ways. She credits her time in the Art History department at Victoria for giving her an understanding of New Zealand’s complex history, its place as a nation in the process of decolonisation, and the politics of representation that are very particular to this part of the world. It’s a body of knowledge that she has carried through the diverse roles she has held.

In an earlier submission on the review of Art History in November 2017 Courtney wrote: “Today’s graduates are emerging into an environment where visual literacy, criticality and the need to be able to communicate fluidly over a range of ever-shifting modes and platforms will be crucial to their ability to survive and thrive in employment and in their engagement with the world around them. Art history can equip them for this world and Victoria’s Art History department, properly invested in, could be a leader in doing so.” She is dismayed – as a graduate, an employer, and a leader in the arts – to see Victoria put forward a proposal that appears to be so be entirely motivated by cost-cutting, and so void of aspiration, innovation or even – “even”! – attention to academic excellence or the student experience.




Senior Lecturer Raymond Spiteri


Raymond Spiteri began at Victoria University of Wellington in 2005, and he is responsible for teaching courses on twentieth-century art.

His research and publications focus on the interface of culture and politics in the history of surrealism and the avant-garde to the history of modernism and its discontents. A central focus of his current research is thinking through the relation between cultural endeavour and political engagement in terms of a tension between modernism and dissensus. He co-edited with Don LaCoss an influential anthology of essays on this topic, Surrealism, Politics and Culture in 2003. He has also contributed essays on the tension between the cultural and political ambitions of surrealism to several volume: Surrealism: Key Concepts (2016), A Companion to Dada and Surrealism (2016), Aesthetic Revolutions and Twentieth-Century Avant-Garde Movements (2015), The Oxford Critical and Cultural History of Modernist Magazines (2012), The Invention of Politics (2006), and Surrealism and Architecture (2005).

He is currently working on a book that looks at the polarization of the French surrealist movement into antagonistic factions around 1930, entitled Surrealism circa 1930s: Modernism and Dissensus. He is also researching the role of Oceania in the imaginary of surrealism, particularly the fascination of artists and writers based in Europe towards the indigenous art of Pacific cultures, as well as the presence (or otherwise) of surrealism in the art of the antipodes. He recently completed an article on the New Zealand born artist Len Lye and his relation to surrealism, which exemplifies the tension between modernism and surrealism characteristic of many antipodean responses to surrealism.




Professor Geoffrey Batchen


Dr Geoffrey Batchen is the Professor of Art History at Victoria. Although he teaches a number of classes in the Art History programme, he specialises in the history of photography. His research attempts to tease out the complexities of the photographic experience, from the 18th century until today, with a particular interest in rethinking how a history for photography might be reconceived for the present. Frequently cited in the work of others and translated into 21 languages to date, many of his publications have become canonical texts in the field, especially for scholars interested in the origins of photography, in the study of vernacular photographs, and, most recently, in the issue of photography’s dissemination.

Batchen’s books include Burning with Desire: The Conception of Photography (1997, with subsequent translations into Spanish, Korean, Japanese, Slovenian, Chinese and Italian); Each Wild Idea: Writing, Photography, History (2001, and in Chinese); Forget Me Not: Photography and Remembrance (2004); William Henry Fox Talbot (2008); What of Shoes?: Van Gogh and Art History (2009, in German and English); Suspending Time: Life, Photography, Death (2010, in Japanese and English); Repetition och Skillnad (in Swedish, 2011); Emanations: The Art of the Cameraless Photograph (2016); Obraz a diseminace (in Czech, 2016); and More Wild Ideas (in Chinese, 2017). He has also edited Photography Degree Zero: Reflections on Roland Barthes’s Camera Lucida (2009) and co-edited Picturing Atrocity: Photography in Crisis (2012). His next book, Apparitions: Photography and Dissemination, will appear in late 2018.

Batchen has also curated numerous exhibitions. These have been shown at, among other places, the Museu Nacional de Belas Artes in Rio de Janeiro; the Van Gogh Museum in Amsterdam; the National Media Museum in Bradford, UK; the International Center of Photography in New York; the Wallraf-Richartz-Museum in Cologne; the Izu Photo Museum in Shizuoka, Japan; the National Museum of Iceland in Reykjavik; the Adam Art Gallery in Wellington, NZ; the Govett-Brewster Art Gallery in New Plymouth, NZ; and the Centre for Contemporary Photography in Melbourne.

Batchen has recently completed the manuscript for another book, titled Negative/Positive: A Little History of Photography. This study examines the role played by the negative throughout the history of photography, enabling a critical reflection on printing, copying, enlarging, imitating, reproduction, and photographic repetitions of all sorts. This project is part of his ongoing efforts to forge a history for photography that can help explain the digital present. But Batchen’s work also seeks to create a discourse capable of being globally inclusive while also acknowledging difference, contradiction and regional specificity. For that reason, he finds Wellington a very stimulating and challenging place to work.




Senior Lecturer Peter Brunt


Peter joined the Art History staff at Victoria in 1998. Since then he has built an international profile for Pacific art history at Victoria through his teaching, research, curatorial projects, and the accomplishments of his students. Milestones in his career include landmark conferences, such as Tatau/Tattoo (2003) and Indigenous Modernisms (2014); prize-winning publications such Art in Oceania: A New History (2012); and collaborative research projects such the Getty-funded Tatau/Tattoo, the Marsden-funded Art in Oceania, the Leverhulme-funded Multiple Modernisms: 20th Century Modernisms in Global Perspective, and the European Research Council-funded Pacific Presences. The publications, conferences, and scholar-development opportunities resulting from these projects – alongside similar achievements by his colleagues – have earned Victoria University’s art history programme international respect.

Peter is also the co-curator of the exhibition Oceania, due to open at the Royal Academy of Arts in London in September this year and at the Musée du Quai Branly-Jacques Chirac in early 2019. More than five years in the making, this major exhibition is drawn from Oceanic collections in European and New Zealand museums and commemorates the 250th anniversary of the sailing of Cook’s first voyage to the Pacific in 1768. It is sponsored by the New Zealand government, and the governments of Papua New Guinea and the Kingdom of Tonga.

Peter has said of his work: ‘There are two sides to my job: teaching and research. Both aspects are challenging and rewarding in different ways. When it comes to teaching, I love introducing students to the world of art in our region. There is so much beauty, skill, history and provocation in Pacific Art and it is very relevant to contemporary New Zealand. It makes me proud to see students go on to further study or take positions in museums or galleries and even become published scholars. There are also exciting research opportunities in Pacific arts. So many stories of our cultures and history lie in our art, and working on it is a great and fulfilling journey’ (Pasifika staff website VUW).

For Peter, the future of art history, the cutting-edge questions and challenges of the discipline, whether in reference to contemporary art or historical art, lie right here in Aotearoa-New Zealand and the Pacific, in conversation with the rest of the world. Though plainly under-appreciated by its own universities, art history in this country has been at the forefront of that conversation for some time.




Senior Lecture David Maskill 


Image: David Maskill talking about Watteau’s Gilles in the Louvre, 2006.

David Maskill has taught at Victoria for twenty-five years, during which time he has taught popular courses on Byzantine and Medieval art, Renaissance art, Baroque art, French 18th-century art and the history of prints, as well as contributing to the teaching of several first-year courses.

His research interests in French 18th-century art and the history of prints have been published in journal articles, book chapters and exhibition publications. In 2006, he led a study tour to London and Paris looking at collections of 18th-century French art.

Beginning in 2001, he has organised seven exhibitions on the history of prints with his Honours students at the university’s Adam Art Gallery, for which he was awarded a Research-Led Teaching Award in 2009.

David is regularly invited to speak at leading art galleries throughout the country for his acknowledged expertise in European art of the pre-modern period.




Associate Professor Roger Blackley

Roger Blackley

Image: Lynda Feringa

Roger is a well-loved and highly regarded member of the Art History teaching staff at Victoria University of Wellington. Since joining the faculty in 1999, Roger has taught thousands of students who particularly value his supportive and encouraging approach.

He was curator of New Zealand historical art at Auckland Art Gallery for 15 years, and has published prolifically, including the bestselling Goldie (Auckland Art Gallery/David Bateman, 1997).

‘My research focuses on colonial New Zealand art within a global context. I am particularly interested in the depiction of indigenous peoples, the history of exhibitions and museums, and theories and practices of collecting. Another keen interest is art forgery—especially the subtle borderline that divides ‘authentic’ from ‘inauthentic’. For example, ‘ethnographic’ fakes are abundant in museum collections; while some are occasionally identified as fakes, many others pass as indigenous works when in effect they are European works of art.’

Roger’s next book, Galleries of Maoriland: Artists, Collectors and the Māori World, 1880–1910, will be published later this year by Auckland University Press. This book takes a fresh look at the late-colonial period known as ‘Maoriland’, in which colonial art and museology essentialised ‘traditional’ Māori culture and used it to help forge a distinctive Pākehā identity. The book importantly argues that Māori were not just passive victims, but had a stake in this process of romanticisation. It explores the identities and motives of Māori participants in this culture, and takes seriously the question of a Māori reception of Pākehā art.

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