Olivia Webb

Olivia Webb

Outstanding Doctoral Award Recipient
School of Art and Design
Faculty of Design and Creative Technologies

Olivia Webb’s thesis attended to the ways practice intersects and shifts amongst the fields of performance, media arts, and music as a means of exploring and understanding the social and cultural soundscape of Aotearoa New Zealand. In this project, art and music are engaged as alternative languages used to embody broader socio-political issues as well as explore how we express ourselves in a culturally diverse place and space. “This study arose from my own personal identity and experience as an artist, performer musician and choral singer, who specialises in Sacred Music,” says Olivia.

Olivia was chosen as a recipient of the Outstanding Doctoral Award because she was an extraordinary candidate who achieved a successful completion with no amendments necessary. She was one of seven international artists commissioned for the 2016 Edinburgh Art Festival, was awarded the 2017 Wellington Sound Art residency, and presented her research at international conferences. Her work was transdisciplinary, moving across performance art, sound art and technologies and moving image platforms in a collaborative research journey with five New Zealand immigrant families. The work was exhibited at the St Paul Street Gallery and was then exhibited at the Dowse Art Gallery in Lower Hutt, Wellington.

“It’s an honour to be recognised by AUT through this award, this acknowledgement may help me secure future post-doctoral research opportunities, and possibly future jobs.”

Olivia says that she’s one of the many graduates who has had to regroup, revise, replan this year. With the uncertainty of COVID-19 and its effect on the world, Olivia has had to put her plans of travelling, overseas residencies, and international art experiences and conferences on hold. She is now spending her time focused on deepening her contribution to local communities through developing ways to build resilience and maintain community connections through art and music during this uncertain time.

“Community participation and cultural identity was at the heart of my PhD research, but this has taken on a whole new meaning against the backdrop of a global pandemic. I’ve found that there are many local community groups looking for creative ways to respond to the changes the pandemic has presented, and it’s great to be able to share my research findings and help problem-solve with these groups.”

Olivia will be exhibiting her artwork ‘Anthems of Belonging’ with the Christchurch City Art Gallery early next year, where she also hopes to expand the artwork with local families. “This artwork formed a significant part of my thesis and I’m really excited to finally show this in the South Island, and my hometown Ōtautahi. In addition to this, I have several art and music commissions on the go for various organisations throughout Aotearoa, so I’m looking forward to a busy summer!”

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