Art critic and writer Anthony Byrt will devote the next 12 months to three major projects after being named the Kaipukahu University of Waikato Writer in Residence for 2023.
Between his time on campus, Anthony will spend time on the road with New Zealand artist Shane Cotton for his new book, begin his interview-based collaboration with painter Judy Millar at her West Auckland studio and launch into research about ‘The Forty Days’ – the standoff with New Zealand and Yugoslav forces over Trieste, Italy, in 1945.
“The plan with Shane is to drive around the upper North Island to key sites associated with his work, and I’ll be meeting with Judy every month or so to record conversations,” Anthony, 43, says.
“Hamilton is an ideal base for me, where I can have the time to consolidate and process the material I’ve gathered on the road. I’m also really looking forward to engaging with students and testing ideas with my colleagues at the University.”
Anthony’s been researching the Trieste stand-off for over a decade but says he didn’t have the time to put his findings into book form.
“It’s a huge privilege to have the time to take on projects I’ve been thinking about for a long time and really care about.
“The parts are in place, the people I need are in place, all I was missing was the time. Getting this gig at Waikato was key to attacking projects like this.”
Anthony lives in Mangawhai with his wife and son but returns to Hamilton – the city where his writing career began over 20 years ago – for the residency, jointly funded by the University and Creative New Zealand.
“While it’s ambitious to take on three projects in a year, I certainly wouldn’t have been able to contemplate that level of ambition without the support of the University.
“There are a limited number of residencies in the country with this length of time attached to them, so 12 months in an academic setting with research resources at my disposal is a super rare gift to be given.”
Anthony is one of New Zealand’s foremost contemporary art writers and has written for the world’s leading art magazine, Artforum, for over a decade. He has also written for outlets such as Metro, North & South and the New Zealand Listener.
In 2013, Anthony was a Critical Studies Fellow at Cranbrook Academy of Art, Michigan, and in 2015 was New Zealand’s Reviewer of the Year. He was also a Writer in Residence at the Michael King Writers’ Centre in 2017, and joined the Centre’s board in 2018.
His most recent book, The Mirror Steamed Over: Love and Pop in London, 1962 (2020) was longlisted for the Ockham New Zealand Book Awards in 2021, and his first book, This Model World: Travels to the Edge of Contemporary Art (2016) was shortlisted in 2017.
The Mirror Steamed Over is an untold story of how a group of young outsiders reinvented art in the early 60s in London.
This Model World is a first-person travelling survey of contemporary art and is built around hundreds of hours spent in art galleries, artists’ studios and on the road from Brisbane to Detroit to Venice.
University of Waikato Creative Writing Senior Lecturer, Catherine Chidgey says Anthony is one of Aotearoa’s most esteemed non-fiction writers and the University is delighted to welcome him to campus.
“Anthony’s three fascinating projects promise an abundance of creative nourishment, and we’re excited to follow their growth over the course of his time with us,” Catherine says.
“One of the wonderful things about the residency is the opportunity it offers students to engage with some of our best practising writers; I know they will benefit in many ways from having a writer of Anthony’s calibre on campus.”
Anthony’s residency will take over from Diana Clarke, the Writer in Residence for 2022.