Auckland artist Gina Ferguson and West Coast artist Dale Cotton have taken out the top prize in the 2022 Fieldays No.8 Wire National Art Award with their work.
It never rains but it pours at a ceremony held on Thursday evening, 21 April, at Hamilton’s ArtsPost Galleries & Shop.
The annual competition, hosted by Waikato Museum and supported by the New Zealand National Fieldays Society (NZNFS), has entered its 26th year of challenging artists to turn an iconic Kiwi farming product into art and stake their claim to a share of $8,500 in prize money.
The Rotorua-based sculptor, multi-disciplinary artist and this year’s judge, Eugene Kara, adhered strictly to the blind-judging process which keeps entrant identities confidential from the judge. With this bias removed, Gina Ferguson also took second place with her artwork Cluster Buster Bath Bomb.
The artists’ statement for the winning work, It never rains but it pours, drew inspiration from the poem ‘Rain’ by Hone Tuwhare, and says that the piece relates to how “our relationship to our environment informs our past, present, and future.”
Eugene said the winning artwork was both beautiful and stunning, and he had to return to the work several times to admire it.
“The ihi, the wehi, and the mana put into that piece of work made it a full explosion of sensory experience for me.”
Two-time award winner Gina Ferguson, who also won the top award in 2021, was surprised and overjoyed to have been recognised this year for both of her creations. Gina and Dale have been collaborating for the past 18 months, most recently having their sculpture on display in the Auckland Botanic Gardens over the summer.
Eugene also praised the finalists for the profound themes behind the works of art and the sensory experience evoked by the innovative use of material and process.
“I’ve loved the journey of viewing these works, feeling the tensions and the challenges, but also the hope and the optimism that we have as a people of Aotearoa,” he commented.
“A big mihi to all of the artists for your vulnerability, your bravery, and your mahi.”
Auckland-based artist, Alexandra Ryan, was placed third for Giggle!
The event also featured the NZNFS President’s Choice Award, selected by NZNFS President James Allen. He chose Morrinsville-based Heather Olesen’s creation Rising Tensions for the award.
James said he is always blown away by how the artists manipulate a hardy farming product like no.8 wire into stunning art.
“Believe me, I’ve tried fencing with no.8 wire – it’s not an easy metal to tend with!” James joked.
“I’m immensely proud of the Society’s longstanding tradition and history with Waikato Museum, that has allowed us to bring together town and country – a core mission of Fieldays.”
First established back in 1997, the annual open call to artists and creatives across Aotearoa continues to provide a platform to reinvent an everyday farming product into art. It also helps to forge a stronger connection between urban and rural communities.
The finalists’ work will be exhibited at ArtsPost until Monday 24 May. Judge Eugene Kara will be giving a talk in the gallery at 11am Friday 22 April to share his insights about the prize-winning artworks. Entry is free. All artworks in the exhibition are available for sale.