10 May 2018

Dame Gillian Whitehead: a true Icon

From Upbeat, 1:00 pm on 10 May 2018

New Zealand composer Dame Gillian Whitehead was recognised with an Icon Award at a special ceremony last night.

The Icon Awards recognises outstanding contribution to New Zealand’s creative landscape and is overseen by The Arts Foundation.

Dame Gillian Whitehead

Dame Gillian Whitehead Photo: Gareth Watkins / Lilburn Trust / Wallace Arts Trust

Only 20 living artists are given an Icon Award.

When an artist passes away, their medallion is passed on to a new artist by a member of the deceased artist’s family.

RNZ Concert’s Nick Tipping’s grandfather Peter Godfrey was awarded an Icon Award in 2005.

Godfrey passed away last year, so Nick was there to represent him and present the medallion to Dame Gillian.

“The award accrues mana with every new holder,” Nick says.

RNZ Concert presenter: Nick Tipping

RNZ Concert presenter: Nick Tipping Photo: RNZ / Rebekah Parsons-King

Other Icon Award winners this year include artist Billy Apple, carver and sculptor Fred Graham and poet and writers Bill Manhire and Albert Wendt.

Dame Gillian’s composition ‘Hineraukatauri’ was performed by Bridget Douglas and Al Fraser.

Nick Tipping and Dame Gillian Whitehead at the Icon Awards

Nick Tipping and Dame Gillian Whitehead at the Icon Awards Photo: Supplied

The awards ceremony was attended by the Prime Minister and the Governor General, who hosted the dinner. The awards were funded by Arts Foundation donors.