Art Book Prize

Art in Oceania: A New History wins the Art Book Prize for 2013.

A book co-edited by Victoria University senior lecturer Dr Peter Brunt has won the Art Book Prizepdf859KB for 2013 – a prestigious award presented by the Authors Club in the United Kingdom. Formerly known as the Banister Fletcher Prize, the Art Book Prize aims to do for the visual arts what the MAN Booker prize has done for the novel. It is presented annually for the best book on art or architecture published, in English, anywhere in the world in the past year.

Art in Oceania project team
Front row l-r: Damian Skinner, Nicholas Thomas, Peter Brunt, Stella Ramage Back row l-r: Sean Mallon, Deidre Brown, Lissant Bolton, Susanne Küchler

Dr Brunt edited the 500 page book Art in Oceania: A New History with Nicholas Thomas, Professor of Historical Anthropology at Cambridge University. Two of the book's seven co-authors were Sean Mallon, Senior Curator, Pacific Cultures, at Te Papa, and a current Victoria PhD student, and Dr Damian Skinner, a curator at Auckland Museum, who obtained his PhD in Art History from Victoria in 2005. Marsden funding was pivotal to the production of the book, which took around six years to complete. Several Victoria postgraduate students were also involved in the project, including Stella Ramage, current PhD student in Art History who worked as assistant editor.

Other authors were Dr Deidre Brown, a senior lecturer in the School of Architecture at the University of Auckland, Professor Susanne Küchler, Professor of Anthropology at University College London and Dr Lissant Bolton, Keeper of the Department of Africa, Oceania and the Americas at the British Museum, who accepted the prize at a function in London supported by The Art Newspaper.

Victoria's Vice Chancellor Professor Pat Walsh says winning the Art Book Prize is an outstanding achievement for all those involved in its production and Victoria University as a whole. "This prize is further recognition of the world-class capability Victoria University has in humanities disciplines."

Dr Brunt says he is delighted and "a little stunned" by the book's win. He describes Art in Oceania as a paradigm-shifting book which encourages people to look at Pacific art in new ways.

Sophy Thompson, newly appointed Publishing Director of Thames & Hudson said: "Thames & Hudson is delighted that ART IN OCEANIA has won the distinguished Art Book Prize. ART IN OCEANIA is an ambitious collaborative work that took several years to assemble, involving seven principal authors alongside a team of editors, designers and picture researchers, all coordinated by the book's commissioning editor, Ian Jacobs. As all good art books should ART IN OCEANIA creates 'a museum without walls', and makes accessible to a wide public the research and findings of top scholars and academics. In an environment where immediate commercial success is often valued more highly than longterm relevance and scholarship, it is extremely encouraging to receive recognition for the time and effort that this type of publication requires, and we thank the judging panel and the organizers for their support."

Published by Thames and Hudson in late 2012, Dr Brunt says the first edition of Art in Oceania: A New History has sold extremely well and a second edition will be published soon.