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Art award winner epitomises contemporary

Art award winner epitomises contemporary

Art award winner epitomises contemporary

Monday 6 August, 2018

The winning work from the 2018 National Contemporary Art Award is the epitome of contemporary, featuring a structure and appearance that will continue to change with time, along with its meaning.

You and Me. The Weight of History by Rotorua’s Sarah Ziessen was revealed as the major prize winner at the awards ceremony and exhibition opening at Waikato Museum Te Whare Taonga o Waikato.

Tompkins Wake is in its fifth year as major sponsor of the National Contemporary Art Awards.

“One of our core values is “confidently courageous” which challenges our people to be brave, to explore and create, much like Sarah has with her work You and Me.” says Jon Calder, Chief Executive of Tompkins Wake. “We are proud to support the National Contemporary Art Awards as an iconic New Zealand event and congratulate Sarah on her stunning and thought provoking work”.

As major sponsors of the award, Tompkins Wake along with Chow:Hill Architects presented Ziessen the $20,000 major prize.

The award judge, Reuben Friend, Director of Porirua’s Pātaka Art + Museum, selected Ziessen’s work for its “great technical skill and a deep knowledge of Aotearoa New Zealand art history”.

“The work took paint and turned it into a sculptural form, creating jackets out of paint skins,” says Friend. “Crossing media from painting to sculpture and adornment, the artwork also crossed lines of history and art practice, referencing the influence of international pop and optical artists such as Bridget Riley, as well as Maaori artistic customs and practices of using kowhaiwhai as a semiotic and architectural function, creating a work that speaks to the dynamics of art making in Aotearoa New Zealand and the plethora of influences that affect our art traditions and identity.”

In the artist statement accompanying her entry, Ziessen says You and Me. The Weight of History “explores the way we communicate our personal and cultural identities through pattern”.

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2018 National Contemporary Art Award winner Sarah Ziessen (centre) with Brian Squair, Chairman of Chow:Hill Architects (left) and Tompkins Wake Chief Executive, Jon Calder (right).

“Patterns are so ubiquitous it easy not to give them a thought; to consider them purely decorative, but our associations with them are deep rooted. This work is made from paint skins which have been fashioned into garments. Over time the paint skins will distort with the pull of gravity, the patterns becoming harder to read, echoing the way the signification of distinct patterns become obfuscated or even lost over the course of history.”

The Hugo Charitable Trust, founded by Maryanne Green in honour of her father Hugo Green, sponsored the Hugo Award for Runner-Up at the 2018 National Contemporary Art Award, with the recipient receiving $5,000.

Papamoa’s Kereama Taepa won the $5,000 Hugo Award for the Runner-Up, sponsored by the Hugo Charitable Trust, for his 3D-printed Pac-Man-inscribed hei tiki titled Consumer Culture.

Consumer Culture by Kereama Taepa

Tompkins Wake Partner Peter Fanning and his wife Johanna nominated the award as a recipient of the trust’s philanthropy and presented the runners up award to Kereama on behalf of the Hugo Trust.

“This work raises questions around cultural commodification while also exploring how the emergence of automated tools for art making such as 3D printing and virtual digital spaces such as VR will affect art-making and cultural practices and customs as we voyage further into the 21st century,” says Friend.

Merit award prizes of $1,000, sponsored by Random Art Group and Friends of Waikato Museum went to Natchez Hudson and Martin Awa Clarke Langdon, both of Wellington.

The exhibition at Waikato Museum, Te Whare Taonga o Waikato runs through until 28 October 2018.

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