The winning spindly work hangs from the words of revered poet Hone Tūwhare
Tom Lee / Stuff
Auckland artist Gina Ferguson and West Coast artist Dale Cotton have won the Fieldays No.8 Wire National Art Award 2022 with their work It Never Rains But it Pours. Ferguson also took second place with his work Cluster Buster Bath Bomb.
The remains of an old oilskin farmer’s jacket and the words of one of New Zealand’s greatest writers inspired the creators of an award-winning piece of art.
Auckland artist Gina Ferguson and West Coast artist Dale Cotton have won the top prize at Fieldays No.8 Wire National Art Award 2022 with their work It never rains, but it pours.
The couple said they were inspired by the poem Rain by Hone Tūwhare, and the article on how “our relationship to our environment informs our past, our present and our future”.
Rotorua-based sculptor Eugene Kara, who judged this year’s award, strictly adhered to a blind judging process, which keeps the identity of entrants confidential from the judge. Once that bias was removed, Ferguson also took second place with his artwork. Cluster Buster Bath Bomb.
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It continues a winning streak for Ferguson, who also won the top prize in 2021.
The oilskin material had been almost completely removed from the garment, leaving only the seams – “the bare structural elements” – which had been threaded with thread to give them some structural integrity.
The set is suspended on a thread by a hanger, itself in n°8.
“I wanted him to also talk about memory loss, as well as our relationship to the land and the environment.
“It was made to make the work itself look like it’s crying… In many ways it’s about my dad, because wearing an old raincoat is, in many ways, my memory of him .”
Cotton’s contribution to the work was auditory, people attending the work could also listen to a recording of a real South Island storm.
Ferguson said she was surprised and delighted that her two designs were considered the best in the contest.
She and Cotton had been collaborating on works for around 18 months and one of their sculptures had been exhibited in the Auckland Botanic Gardens over the summer.
Tūwhare, one of New Zealand’s most famous and prolific poets. His first collection, No ordinary sun (1964), was the first book of poetry by a Māori writer in English. He reported an intense and lasting interest in political issues as a subject, with the title an impassioned cry against nuclear weapons, written in response to the destruction of Hiroshima in 1945.
He died in 2009, at the age of 86.
This year’s No. 8 winners were announced Thursday evening, at a ceremony at the ArtsPost Galleries & Shop in Hamilton. The annual competition, supported by the New Zealand National Fieldays Society, is now in its 26th year of challenging artists to turn an iconic agricultural product into art and claim their share of $8,500 in prize money.
Kara said the winning artwork was both beautiful and breathtaking, and he had to come back to the artwork several times to admire it.
“The ihi, wehi and mana invested in this work made it a real explosion of sensory experience for me.”
Kara praised all of the finalists for the deep themes behind the artworks and the sensory experience evoked by the innovative use of material and process.
“I loved the journey of viewing these works, feeling the tensions and challenges, but also the hope and optimism that we have as the people of Aotearoa,” he said.
“A big mihi to all artists for your vulnerability, your bravery and your mahi.”
Auckland-based artist Alexandra Ryan placed third for a piece titled To laugh hard!
Another award announced Thursday night was the National Fieldays Society President’s Choice Award, selected by James Allen. He chose the creation of Heather Olesen, based in Morrinsville Growing tensions for the price.