Guest speakers


FILM SCREENING: No Man’s Land by John Psathas

No Man’s Land is an 80-minute live cinematic concert, a deeply moving multi-media work that spans generations, continents, cultures and beliefs, and reflects on the devastating impact and futility of war.  Commissioned from acclaimed New Zealand composer John Psathas, No Man’s Land was premiered as a centrepiece of New Zealand’s First World War commemorations in 2016.

150 musicians descended from opposing forces of the Great War and filmed on significant battlefields around the world are projected alongside a live, seven-piece international ensemble featuring Stratis Psaradelis, Sofia Labropoulou, Caleb Robinson, Vangelis Karipis, Jolanta Kossakowska, Joe Callwood and James Illingworth. The musicians, both live and virtual, perform as one global orchestra to create an exhilarating visual and musical experience

No Man’s Land is, above all else, an unashamed commitment to optimism; a statement to nations who currently find themselves at war. Even at our worst, humanity and empathy continue to survive.

The story of No Man’s Land is told in six parts and runs for 1hour 25 minutes.

John Psathas, composer


John Psathas will also offer a talk during the conference:

Doing the impossible – Operating as a culturally ‘neutral’ collaborator in the global creative sphere”

It may be impossible to operate as a culturally neutral agent in a global context, but it is eminently possible to be perceived as one. Is that an advantage or a handicap? Using the epic project No Man’s Land as a foundation, I will discuss the experience of bringing together over one hundred and fifty musicians from more than twenty-five countries into a global creative workspace. The project itself centres on the principle of different cultures combining and transcending the need for spoken or written language. Using music as the ‘universal language’ this vast audio-visual collaboration creates a non-textual platform enabling multi-identity expression. Each artist – particularly major contributors – came from widely contrasting cultures and musical traditions, and in most cases I was the first New Zealand artist they had ever collaborated with. No Man’s Land presents a unique challenge, and opportunity, to successfully navigate these cultural differences in the pursuit of meaning through musical collaboration.


John Psathas ONZM has not only achieved a level of international success as a composer unprecedented in New Zealand history, he is also widely considered one of the most important living composers of the Greek diaspora.

Since writing much of the ceremonial music for the 2004 Athens Olympic Games, John’s music has reached a wide audience, and his works have been played by many of the world’s great orchestras and soloists.  His musical language draws inspiration from the languages of jazz, classical, Eastern European, Middle Eastern, avant-garde, rock, and electronica.

John’s recent collaborations have included collaborations with Serj Tankian, Oum El Ghait, Meeta Pandit, Bijan Chemirani, Evelyn Glennie, Marta Sebestyen, the Netherlands Blazers Ensemble, Sofia Labropoulou, Vagelis Karipis, The Halle Orchestra, writer Salman Rushdie, the Refugees of Rap, Russel Walder, Derya Turkan, film directors Dana Rotberg and Mike Wallis, jazz luminaries Michael Brecker and Joshua Redman.


Prof. Elizabeth Deloughrey (UCLA)

“Outer Spaces: Reimagining the ends of the Earth”



This paper examines the ways in which Antarctica is imagined as a signifier of climate change and an apocalyptic space representing a geographic but also temporal “end of the Earth.” It engages the currency of “outer spaces” such as the poles and their melting ice as vital to our visual understanding of climate change and as a cautionary tale and allegory for the Earth as a whole. It traces out a long history of representing Antarctica in terms of the sublime, the uncanny, and as wilderness, particularly in New Zealand arts and literature. It then places these narratives in relationship to Witi Ihimaera’s recent science fiction novella, The Purity of Ice, which images a post-apocalyptic future where the commodification of glaciers as a water source would seem to position them as “islands on sale.” This narrative of commodification is complicated however by the animacy of water which contests the capitalist boundaries between life and non-life.


Elizabeth DeLoughrey is a Professor in English and at the Institute for the Environment and Sustainability at the University of  California, Los Angeles. She is co-editor of Caribbean Literature and the Environment (2005), Postcolonial Ecologies: Literatures of the Environment (2011), and Global Ecologies and the Environmental Humanities: Postcolonial Approaches (2015). She is the author of Routes and Roots: Navigating Caribbean and Pacific Island Literatures (2007) and Allegories of the Anthropocene (Duke UP, forthcoming). With Thom van Dooren, she is co-editor of the journal Environmental Humanities.



Fleur Adcock


Credit: Jemimah Kuhfeld

Fleur Adcock was born in New Zealand but spent the years 1939-47 in England and has lived in London since 1963.  Her collections of poetry, all published by Bloodaxe Books, are: Poems 19602000 (2000), Dragon Talk (2010), Glass Wings, (2013), and The Land Ballot (2015).  She has also published translations from Romanian and medieval Latin poetry, written texts and libretti for musical works, and edited several anthologies, including The Faber Book of 20th Century Women’s Poetry.  In 2006 she was awarded the Queen’s Gold Medal for Poetry.

Lynn Davison


Lynn writes poetry, essays and fiction; most recently a novella The Desert Road, published by Rosa Mira Books and Common Land, a collection of poetry and essays published by Victoria University Press. Her work has appeared in journals and anthologies including TEXT, Australian Poetry Journal, Cordite, PN Review, Best of Best New Zealand Poems, Big Weather: Poems of Wellington, Essential New Zealand Poems and Another English: Anglophone Poems from Around the World. Last year Lynn was the recipient of a Bothy Project Residency and spent time writing in a bothy in the Cairngorms. In 2013 she had a writing fellowship at Hawthornden Castle in Midlothian, Scotland, and in 2011 was Visiting Artist at Massey University in New Zealand. She recently completed a PhD in Creative Writing through Massey University. Her research looks at poetic repetition. Lynn teaches creative writing and has recently relocated to Edinburgh.

Kevin Ireland


Kevin Ireland was born in New Zealand where he now lives on Auckland’s North Shore, though he travels to the UK and Europe frequently. He has published two memoirs, six novels, a book of short stories, another on growing old and a discursive book on How to Catch a Fish. Kevin Ireland’s Selected poems 1963-2013 was published in 2013. A twenty-third volume of poems, Humphrey Bogart’s great sacrifice, was published in December 2016.  Among several prizes and awards, in 2000 he received a DLitt from Massey University, New Zealand.

 Jan Kemp

Jan Kemp (Dieter Riemenschneider)

Credit: Dieter Riemenschneider

New Zealand-born poet Jan Kemp’s latest collections Voicetracks (2012) & Dante’s Heaven (2006) from Puriri Press, Auckland, N.Z. & Tranzlit, Kronberg im Taunus, Germany have just been joined by two bilingual editions –Il Cielo di Dante (English/Italian) transl. by Aldo Magagnino, Edizioni del Poggio (2017), Poggio Imperiale, Italy and Dante Down Under (English/German) transl. by Dieter Riemenschneider, from Tranzlit (2017),

Kemp established the Aotearoa/New Zealand Poetry Sound Archive (2004) and since 2006 has her own webpage & CD She lives with her husband in Kronberg im Taunus, Germany & is working on poems for her 9th collection: Black Ice & the Love Planet and a memoir: Raiment. In 2005 she was awarded an MNZM in the NZ Queen’s Birthday Honours for services to literature.


Helen McNeil


Twenty-five years as a psychologist has lent Helen McNeil’s writing both insight and compassion.  She writes about ordinary people dealing with the deep questions she struggles with herself: Where is home? What does family mean? Are my beliefs worth the pain? Who am I? She is interested in the power of the collective and currently lives in Earthsong Eco-neighbourhood (Auckland, New Zealand) alongside chickens, organic gardens, lots of compost and constant negotiation.  Her passions include sustainable living, participatory democracy and living in community.

In 2013 she published A Place to Stand, drawing on her own experience as an immigrant. In 2016 Cloudinkpress published A Striking Truth about the 1986 strike in the pulp and paper mill in her home town of Kawerau, New Zealand.


C.K. Stead

Author C. K. Stead in London

C.K. Stead, Professor Emeritus, University of Auckland, is the author of a dozen novels, and as many volumes of poems, recently gathered in Collected Poems 1951-2006 (Carcanet 2009). His most recent collection is The Yellow Buoy (2013). He is New Zealand’s current poet Laureate. Stead is also known as a critic of twentieth century modernism and of New Zealand literature. Other recent publications include a book of essays, Shelf Life: reviews, replies and reminiscences (2017), and a short story collection, The Name on the Door is Not Mine (2017). He won the inaugural 2010 International Hippocrates Prize for Poetry and Medicine, and the Sunday Times/E.F.G. Private Bank short story prize (the world’s largest) also in 2010. He is an F.R.S.L and was awarded a CBE in 1985 and in 2007 his country’s highest honour, the ONZ. His new novel, The Necessary Angel will be published by Allen & Unwin early in 2018.



“What recognition for New Zealand visual arts on the world stage? A discussion on globalisation, national identity and the politics of representation”

Conversation facilitated by Contemporary HUM – Guest Panelists:  Bridget Reweti and Erana Baker (Mata Aho Collective), Alastair Carruthers (NZ at Venice 2017), Tessa Gliblin (Talbot Rice Gallery).

Founded in 2016 by Pauline Autet and Winsome Wild, Contemporary HUM is an online platform dedicated to documenting New Zealand contemporary art projects abroad. HUM generates critical discussion by commissioning international writers to respond, review and interview artists and art professionals from New Zealand who are working internationally. For this conference HUM has gathered a selection of New Zealand visual artists and art professionals to discuss New Zealand’s contribution in the international art context through personal experiences of working overseas. The panel will discuss (with particular reference to New Zealand artists working in Europe): the value and criteria of a national label for artists; the politics of selection and participation in signal events (such as the Venice Biennale and documenta); and how support and public resources are allocated to the New Zealand art diaspora.

Erena Baker and Bridget Reweti: Mata Aho Collective

Image of Mata Aho Collective_Contemporary HUM panel

Mata Aho Collective is a collaboration between four Māori women who produce large scale fibre-based works, commenting on the complexity of Māori lives. Their conceptual framework is founded within the contemporary realities of mātauranga Māori, and they produce works with a single collective authorship that are bigger than their individual capabilities. The work of the collective is featured in documenta 14 this year. Living in Aotearoa New Zealand they are: Erena Baker (Te Atiawa ki Whakarongotai, Ngāti Toa Rangātira) completed a Masters in Māori Visual Arts with First Class Honours through Massey University, Palmerston North in 2009. Sarah Hudson (Ngāti Awa, Ngāi Tūhoe) completed a Masters in Fine Arts with high distinction through Massey University in 2010. Bridget Reweti (Ngāti Ranginui, Ngāi Te Rangi) completed a Masters in Māori Visual Arts with First Class Honours at Massey University, Palmerston North and also holds a Post-Graduate Diploma in Museum Studies from Victoria University, Wellington. Terri Te Tau (Rangitāne ki Wairarapa) completed a PhD in Fine Arts at Massey University in Palmerston North in 2015. She holds a Post-Graduate Diploma in Māori Visual Arts and a Bachelor of Māori Visual Arts Massey University.

Alastair Carruthers, Commissioner for New Zealand’s presentation at the Venice Biennale 2017

 Image of Alastair Carruthers_Contemporary HUM panel

Alastair Carruthers is Commissioner for New Zealand’s presentation at the Venice Biennale 2017. He has longstanding interests in the arts. He was Chairman of the Arts Council (Creative New Zealand) from 2007 to 2012, and was an Arts Board member and then Arts Board Chair from 2001 – 2006. He was a member of the 2010 Ministerial Task Force on philanthropy. He co-produced the rock musical film Romeo and Juliet: A Love Song which premiered in 2013. Carruthers is currently Chief Executive of law firm Kensington Swan. He is also a Council member of Unitec, a Board member of the Royal NZ Ballet, and a Trustee of the Te Papa Foundation. He has held several previous governance and executive roles in the private and public sectors. In the 2014 New Year Honours he was appointed a Companion of the New Zealand Order of Merit for services to arts governance.

Tessa Giblin, Director, Talbot Rice Gallery, and Commissioner and Curator of Ireland at Venice, 2017: Jesse Jones

Image of Tessa Giblin_Contemporary HUM panel

Tessa Giblin is Director of Talbot Rice Gallery at the University of Edinburgh, a position she assumed in November. She is also Commissioner and Curator of Ireland at the Venice Biennale, with the artist Jesse Jones. From 2006-2016 Giblin was Curator of Visual Arts at Project Arts Centre, Dublin, where she curated and led the visual arts program within a busy multi-disciplinary arts centre, consisting of two theatres and a gallery. At Project Arts Centre she curated numerous solo and group exhibitions, including Riddle of the Burial Grounds which toured to Extra City Kunsthal, Antwerp in 2016, and she made commissioning new work a hallmark of her exhibitions. In 2015 she was Guest Curator of the steirischer herbst festival exhibition in Graz, Austria, where she presented the group exhibition Hall of Half-Life over four venues. Giblin was raised in Christchurch, New Zealand, where she attended the Canterbury University School of Fine Arts, and began her curatorial formation through the network of artist-run spaces across Aotearoa. She lives and works in Edinburgh with her family.



Launch of Peter Bland’s new volume titled Working the Scrapbook, published by the Shoestring Press. Event will be hosted by the Shoestring Press, and the NZSN.

This is Peter Bland’s second collection with Shoestring Press following the critical success of Remembering England in 2014. Working the Scrapbook, his new collection, is something of a travelogue centred on family life at different times and in different places. It pays homage to his late wife Beryl who died in 2009. Peter writes that ‘in essence these are poems of both love and loss’.

Peter Bland was born in North Yorkshire but has lived for many years in New Zealand, to which he emigrated in 1954. His work is being increasingly recognized for its warmth, wit, and emotional insight. He remains, at 83, among New Zealand’s finest and most readable poets.

What the reviews say about Peter Bland’s  poetry

….’Vivid and witty’ –TLS ;  ‘Poems of memorable intimacy’ – pn review ;  ‘He has modernized the representation of the NZ landscape over recent decades. This is no small achievement’  – TLS ;   ‘A contemporary voice and a modern concern with the itinerant mind’ –  WORLD LITERATURE TODAY.

Working the Scrapbook  will be introduced by Paul McLoughlin from the Shoestring Press and Kevin Ireland.

Book launch of Jan Kemp’s Il Cielo di Dante (English/Italian), translated by Aldo Magagnino (Edizioni del Poggio, 2017) and Dante Down Under (English/German), translated by Dieter Riemenschneider, from Tranzlit (2017).

To be launched by Dieter Riemenschneider, Emeritus Professor, Goethe University, Frankfurt am Main.