School of Art History, Classics and Religious Studies

Art History Student Profiles

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Alice Tappenden

AliceAs a recent graduate of Victoria’s Art History programme, I have found that the study of art doesn’t necessarily focus on artworks alone. Art History’s expanded field includes creators and curators, socio-political contexts, theoretical interpretations, and, most importantly for my research, a viewer’s subjective understanding of the artwork. In my MA thesis, which was completed in 2013, I investigated the notion of interpretation via the works of Peter Peryer, a New Zealand photographer.
Having previously studied at the University of Canterbury, and as an exchange student at the University of Oxford (UK), I was enticed to Victoria by the opportunity to be supervised by Prof Geoffrey Batchen, and I found the department welcoming and supportive.
While completing my Masters, I presented papers at conferences in Sydney, Wellington and Christchurch. I volunteered for the VUW Art Collection, published an article in Art New Zealand, and tutored for two undergraduate Art History papers. These opportunities nicely complemented my academic studies, providing me with invaluable practical experience – a must for anyone considering a career in the arts.
In addition to my job in the public service, I am a Trustee of Enjoy Public Art Gallery, Wellington, which will also host a show I’m co-curating later this year. I am planning a return to academia, to study towards a PhD, in the near future.


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Michael Boyes


Rooted in political, economic and social philosophy, art treads fine boundaries between document and object, memory and aesthetic.

Art History at Victoria has been invaluable to my development as a mediator between art and critical thought. My capacity as writer, participant and enthusiast has continually undergone investigation and improvement, and simultaneously reaffirms my belief in the vitality of art today.

Parallel to study, the volunteer programme at the Adam Art Gallery offers numerous insights into contemporary gallery practice, coupled with opportunities to meet artists, critics and industry professionals through an extensive platform of public events. An intimate exposure to trends in the collection and display of artworks is a constant highlight of my time at Victoria.
 As of 2013 I am currently completing my third year of a BA in Art History and Classics. I intend to continue into post-graduate study, with long-term goals in arts writing.

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Morgan Ashworth


"Art History is teaching me to think critically, not just about art but about the world we live in." 
Morgan completed her Bachelor of Arts majoring in Art History and English Literature in 2012. She plans to continue studying Honours in Art History at Victoria in 2013, encouraged by the supportive and friendly environment in the Art History Department.

The Adam Art Gallery on campus at Victoria University has played a large part in fostering Morgan’s excitement for New Zealand art. The gallery’s volunteer programme has given her hands-on knowledge and experience in a professional application of her Art History studies, and she is now employed by the gallery. Morgan aims to focus her postgraduate study on contemporary New Zealand art practice, to lead her into curating exhibitions and projects of her own.

Morgan is also pursuing art writing, with critical work published in Victoria’s student magazine, Salient, and online.

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Annika Sippel

Annika Sippel was born and raised in Germany. In 2002 she came to live in New Zealand, where she found herself in a new cultural and natural environment, which inspired her to further pursue her childhood passion for painting. Annika's love for art, languages and history found its ultimate union in the discipline of art history, which she first encountered at secondary school and has been fascinated with ever since.

She completed her BA at Victoria majoring in Art History and Italian, as well as taking several Classics papers. She is currently completing her MA, for which she is inspecting the collection of Northern Renaissance prints held at Te Papa, analysing their condition and quality as well as their acquisition history. This subject builds on her BA (Hons) thesis, which examined the historiography of Albrecht Durer's life and works by investigating the changing views of scholars towards this artist. Considering her German background, she greatly values the opportunity to focus her scholarly interest on the art of German Renaissance artists and studying their art here in New Zealand.

Annika was awarded a VUW Master's by Thesis Scholarship, as well as the VUW Medal for Academic Excellence (2011). She has been a tutor for Art History at Victoria and appreciates the enjoyable interaction among staff and students at the Department.

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Dr Rebecca Rice

Rebecca Rice is a part-time lecturer in Art History and Collection Officer for the Adam Art Gallery. Her current situation seemed highly unlikely 10 years ago when she returned to study after working as a physiotherapist for several years. A love for the arts and music led her back to university and while art history became her primary passion, she pursues music extra-curricularly.

Rebecca holds an PhD in Art History from Victoria University. In this she investigated the evolution of the state collections of colonial New Zealand art, as well as how they have been used in exhibition and discourse to contribute to the formation and critical fate of a "canon". This followed from her MA research on New Zealand's representation on the world stage at 19th century international exhibitions.

While her research interests lie in the area of colonial New Zealand art, Rebecca maintains an active writing profile in the field of contemporary art and is particularly interested in locating moments of intersection between past and present practice. Rebecca has been a regular reviewer for Art New Zealand since 2004, she has published a number of journal articles, contributed to catalogues and has presented her research at local and international conferences. Rebecca was awarded the VUW Medal for Academic Excellence (2002), received both a VUW Postgraduate and William Georgetti Scholarship for her Master's and a Vice-Chancellor's Strategic Research Scholarship for her PhD study.

As a part-time lecturer, Rebecca has enjoyed the opportunity to share her passion for Art History with students. Her role as Collection Officer has introduced her to the practicalities of managing works of art and curating their installation around the University's various campuses.

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Annabel Bonisch

"I have found it very stimulating to study art through the mix of history, culture and social contexts that the discipline encourages students to explore."

Annabel hails from Invercargill and has undertaken a BA majoring in Art History and Classics. Annabel was drawn to Wellington after she fell in love with it when she visited as a dance student. Annabel's passion is Art History, so much so that she has taken a total of 10 Art History courses. Majoring in Classics enabled her to study classical art. She has enjoyed the friendliness of academic and general staff and feels part of the Art History family.

Studying Art History gave Annabel the opportunity to work in visual resources and as a volunteer for the Adam Art Gallery. This has led to a job as a Te Papa host including working at the Monet exhibition. Annabel travelled overseas after she graduated to see for herself the art that she has studied for her undergraduate degree.

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