Pass the baton: David Chipperfield to mentor on Rolex Arts Initiative

Announced at a ceremony in Mexico City last weekend, David Chipperfield is named as the 2016 – 2017 architecture mentor of Rolex's inspiring Arts Initiative.

Black and white portrait of artist David Chipperfield
Last week, at a ceremony in Mexico City, Rolex unveiled the prestigious list of mentors for the 2016–2017 edition of its Arts Initiative. British architect David Chipperfield was named as the initiative's architecture mentor. Photography: Ingrid von Kruse
(Image credit: Ingrid von Kruse)

Rolex's far-reaching mentoring programme, that sees gifted protégés matched with masters in their fields, has generated a plethora of new and extraordinary works since its inception in 2002. From great literature, to beautiful music and inspiring architecture, each of the Arts Initiative projects follow a year of collaboration and creative mentoring that span generations and cross continents – an opportunity that's simply unavailable anywhere else. Past mentors have included the likes of Martin Scorsese, Stephen Frears, Toni Morrison, Anish Kapoor and David Hockney, to name just a few.

For the initiative's 2012–2013 edition, architecture was added to the programme, with Japan's Kazuyo Seijima of SANAA inaugurating the role alongside the young Chinese architect Zhao Yang of China. Together they created a community meeting house in the Japanese fishing port of Kesennuma, as part of the rebuilding effort following following 2011's tsunami. For 2014–2015, elusive Swiss architect Peter Zumthor paired with his protégé Gloria Cabral of Paraguay to create a tea chapel at a religious site in South Korea; and last week it was announced that British architect David Chipperfield will take the baton for 2016–2017.

Fittingly, the announcement was made last weekend within Mexico City's monolithic, Chipperfield-designed Museo Júmex at a ceremony honouring the mentors and protégés of the 2014–2015 edition and which also saw the esteemed architect deliver an address about the Júmex project and the ideas behind it. Also named as mentors for the 2016–2017 cycle were Mia Couto (literature), Alfonso Cuaroón (film), Philip Glass (music), Joan Jonas (visual arts), Robert Lepage (theatre) and Ohad Naharin (dance).

'The practice of architecture involves complex and overlapping concerns and skills from the theoretical to the practical,' said Chipperfield following the announcement. 'Intentions are often obscured by jargon and inappropriate concerns. I would hope to remind my protégé that the issues that confront us are those that confront us all, we have different tools and methods with which we can contemplate and with which we can hopefully act.'

The protégés however, will not be chosen until June next year, when each mentor will be presented with a list of three or four finalists selected by a panel of influential artists and arts professionals from all over the world. The mentoring year will begin shortly afterwards, with each protégé receiving a generous 25,000 Swiss francs to support his or her participation in the programme, with a further 25,000 francs available for the creation of a new work at the conclusion of the mentoring year.

'These seven artists have had a profound influence on their disciplines for decades and are held in high esteem by the public and their peers,' said Rebecca Irvin, head of philanthropy at Rolex. 'We acknowledge their generosity in serving as mentors in the Rolex Arts Initiative. They will join the family of internationally acclaimed artists who have committed to passing on their passion and expertise to a younger generation and to be reinvigorated in their own art in return.'

Photograph of film director, screenwriter, producer and editor Alfonso Cuarón

The far-reaching mentoring programme, that sees gifted protégés matched with masters in their fields for a year of collaboration, has generated a plethora of new and extraordinary works since its inception in 2002. Film director, screenwriter, producer and editor Alfonso Cuarón will be this edition's film mentor

(Image credit: TBC)

Black and white portraits of two male artists

Each mentor will choose his or her protégé from a small group of finalists in early 2016. Influential American composer Philip Glass (left) will mentor an aspiring young musician, while Canadian theatre, opera and film director, playwright and actor, Robert Lepage describes the opportunity to mentor an aspiring actor or actress from a different culture as 'a gift'. Photography: Steve Pyke and Jocelyn Michel

(Image credit: Steve Pyke and Jocelyn Michel)

performance and video artist Joan Jonas pictured with her dog

'I hope to have a dialogue that might clarify thoughts and ideas. Also to exchange with another, information previously hidden – and to visit unknown spaces,' says internationally acclaimed performance and video artist Joan Jonas, who will lead the visual arts category. Photography: Moira Ricci

(Image credit: Moira Ricci)

Portrait of novelist Mia Couto

As the literature mentor, Mozambican novelist Mia Couto is looking forward to recouping 'some ingenuity and vitality that we lose when we begin to manage what we create'. Photography: Renato Parada

(Image credit: Renato Parada)

Photograph of artistic director Ohad Naharin

Ohad Naharin, artistic director of Israel’s Batsheva Dance Company and one of today’s most eminent and visionary choreographers will mentor an up and coming dancer. Photography: Gadi Dagon

(Image credit: Gadi Dagon)