No. 8 wire winner

At the Fieldays No.8 Wire National Art Award and exhibition opening at ArtsPost, Hamilton, Thursday 22 April 2021. Photo: Stephen Barker/Barker Photography. ©NZNFS Inc

An artistic creation crafted from gorse, soap and wire has taken out the top prize in the 2021 Fieldays No. 8 Wire National Art Award.

Wear ‘n Tear was by Auckland artist Gina Ferguson. She was awarded the top slot at last month’s ceremony held at Hamilton’s ArtPost Gallery.

The annual competition is hosted by Waikato Museum, partnered with Momentum Waikato Community Foundation, and supported by the New Zealand National Fieldays Society (NZNFS).  It challenges artists to vie for a share in $8500 in prize money by turning an iconic Kiwi farming product into art.

The $7000 prize was awarded for the winning work’s “stunning visual impact and inventive use of gorse, soap and wire”, said this year’s judge Virginia King.  “The artist’s thought-provoking concept and creative transformation of No. 8 wire left me with a sense of intrigue.”

Morrinsville-based artist Heather Olesen placed second for her entry Liquid Life, and Auckland’s Cherise Thomson placed third with Dune profile no.1.

King said it had been tough whittling the entries down to her top three. “It has also been an immense honour. I’m in awe of all the works submitted this year.”

She said the competition provides a platform to reinvent an everyday farming product and turn it into a compelling work of art.

She praised the finalists’ works for representing a cross-section of styles and inspirations, ranging from climate change and the Covid-19 pandemic, to rural tales and farming life.

The event also featured the President’s Choice Award, which was chosen on behalf of NZNFS president James Allen by NZNFS chief executive Peter Nation and Board member Lynette Pearks.

Hamilton’s Naomi Roche got the Fieldays nod of approval with her creation Spare Ribs.

Peter Nation praised the calibre of the artists’ work and said the award has proven to be as inspiring and delightful as the first exhibition back in 1997. “All the artworks on display are stunning.”

Momentum Waikato chief executive Kelvyn Eglinton described the competition as focal point for artists around the country and said it highlighted the resilience and innovation of rural New Zealand.

“The ability to support the rural community is core to our strategy.”
Waikato Museum director Cherie Meecham said the competition had become a landmark on the New Zealand art scene and bought an awareness to an innovative piece of agricultural history that has become part of the nation’s psyche.

The finalists’ work will be exhibited at ArtsPost in Hamilton until May 24, and entry is free.

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