The artwork, Matariki – Māori New Year, has been selected from more than 24,000 entries as one of the 20 finalists in one of the most significant student art awards globally, and the large collaborative work will be on display at Saatchi Gallery, in London, from July 4 – 13.

Last year, renowned artist Michel Tuffery led specialist classes, as a part of the unique Samuel Marsden Collegiate School’s Artist in Residence programme.

Students from Clyde Quay, Kilbirnie, Khandallah, St Mark’s, Hataitai and Northland Schools were invited to take part in the workshop.

For more than a decade, John Denton has been the driving force behind the Artist in Residence programme at Marsden – the former head of visual arts at the school has recently taken up a new role in the tertiary sector.

Denton instigated the annual Marsden Artist in Residence Exhibition at the New Zealand Portrait Gallery, and the latest achievement of being a Saatchi Student art finalist is testament to his vision of facilitating the workshops and entering the work, says current head of visual arts at the school Kaz Bartsch.

“The programme itself has been going for much longer, and this year's Artist in Residence Rebecca Holden is the programme’s 19th artist to share her skills with students,” Bartsch adds.

Marsden School is very proud of its Artist in Residence Programme, where a professional creative artist is mixed with impressionable students eager to learn.

“The results can be quite transformative, which is the ultimate goal of the programme,”

Bartsch says.

“For some students it can transform their understanding of making images and expressing ideas, while for others it might change their view of themselves in the world – tackling creative issues and expressing them through visual mediums.”

Collaboration is also a strong focus, learning from and with each other and students come away with a feeling of empowerment, synergy and well-being when they create together.

Under the Marsden Artist in Residence 2016 Tuffery’s guidance, the students were able to create paint pen drawings on see through panels of acetate, which celebrate Matariki, the Māori New Year, with Manu Aute or God kite forms giving tribute to past ancestors as they meet with them in the heavens.

Tuffery says the process of making the work collaboratively is a way of celebrating Matariki.

“Working together enhanced the awareness of the ‘many’, gave us the chance to talk, laugh, interact and learn as we created together,” Tuffery says.

“The process is as important as the finished work – the students came away feeling empowered, and they left with (artistic) skills, knowledge about Matariki, how to work together and an overall feeling of well-being.”  

It is a wonderful exploration when you collaborate, with another human being, it’s the unknown, a voyage of discovery and trust in each other and trying to get that synergy right that is important, he adds.

The judging panel of the 2017 Saatchi Gallery Art Prize for Schools this year consists of artist Alice Anderson; writer and curator Alistair Hicks; CEO of Saatchi Gallery Nigel Hurst; gallerist and founder of The Line Megan Piper; curator and director Hauser & Wirth Somerset Dea Vanagan.  

The winner and runner-up prizes will be announced on July 4, at the awards evening in London.