Wednesday, March 25, 2015

Estuary Art Awards 2015 Prize Winners

Estuary Art Awards

13 March - 24 April
Malcolm Smith Gallery

Judge's Tour with Warwick Brown
12 noon, Saturday 11 April

Estuary Art Awards is Uxbridge's premiere contemporary art prize, now in its ninth year. Open to all residents of New Zealand, the competition aims to raise the profile of the Tamaki Estuary by encouraging artists to respond to its role in the ecology of Auckland, and to take participate more actively in the Estuary's protection and preservation.

First Prize
Jesse Dunstan, On Reflection (2015)
Photography, 80 x 60cm

"This deceptively simple photograph is in fact a finely nuanced work. It makes reference not only directly to the required subject, the Tamaki Estuary, but also to the work of New Zealand’s most revered artist, Colin McCahon. McCahon is such a towering figure that it is difficult to refer to his work without being overshadowed. Here, Jesse Dunstan records his personal experience of the estuary as a kayaker, down at water level under a wharf or similar structure. Immediately nature and the works of human development are brought into sharp contrast, but in an almost abstract manner. The gradation of tones from bottom to top of the image is perfectly captured. This alone would be sufficient to make a fine photograph, but the monoliths immediately call to mind McCahon’s Necessary Protection series of paintings. In these works McCahon  abstracted the rock stacks at Muriwai, sheltering a gannet colony, into spiritual symbols standing for faith and strength in the face of the challenges of life. In Jesse’s photograph these strong symbols can be seen as both threatening and protective/supportive. They operate both above and below the water. The stones hitting the water and the spreading ripples can be seen as metaphors for the effects of actions in the estuary, both good and bad, and how small actions can have a large impact. Finally, after some careful scrutiny, one realises that what seemed like a black and white photograph is in fact a subtly coloured one. This is yet a further metaphor for the fact that the problems and challenges faced by the estuary do not have an easy knee-jerk solution. A note of hope is sounded by the touch of blue sky at the extreme top right. Quite a lot to cram into one snapshot." - Warwick Brown

Second Prize
Sharon Terizzi, post-Mimbres (2015)
Earthernware sculpture, 35 x 33 x 26cm

"The artist has chosen the lowly sea-squirt as the inspiration for this fascinating organic image. It immediately calls to mind a host of modernist sculptures of the past century, from Henry Moore to William Tucker. That deftly disposes of the art requirement and directs the viewer’s mind to environmental matters. The squirt must filter its food out of the water, and so is particularly sensitive and vulnerable to pollution. It cannot swim away to escape degradation of its environment. It, like every other living thing in the estuary, must trust in humans to protect it and not cause its extinction. Enlarging this ungainly half-plant, half-creature and placing it before us makes us think about the myriad unseen, vulnerable life forms in the estuary and the sacred trust placed in us to let them live and prosper." - Warwick Brown

Sharon Terrizzi Copyright 2009