Friends of Aratoi Art Award

Masterton ceramic artist Kirsty Gardiner has won the top prize in the Friends of Aratoi Art Awards, announced on Friday. The Awards, formerly known as the Wairarapa Review, is a biannual selected exhibition of work by Wairarapa artists, organized and sponsored by the Friends. Kirsty says her work – three pit fired ceramic birds adorned with crocheted and beaded cloaks – was a continuation of the themes she has been exploring since working with the Aratoi collection, which includes huia and other birds, and Maori feather cloaks.
“I have been creating fictitious birds with references to ornithologist Walter Buller and writer Lewis Carroll, who were born a few years apart but on different continents. The birds are extinct and make up part of a 'cabinet of curiosities',” says Kirsty. “I have won a number of other awards but it is a thrill to win this one.” Other recent awards have included a Merit Award and Premier Award in the Portage Ceramic Awards in 2011 and 2010 respectively.
Judge Alison Bartley of Wellington dealer gallery Bartley & Company Art selected 39 works from the 120 submitted. “I spend my whole life looking at art and never find it boring,” she said before explaining her judging criteria: “The first thing I look for is ideas – artists do work for themselves but they want to communicate…. something about the worlds we live in.” She said she also looks for “freshness, something not seen before, and the quality of execution", while pointing out that lots of contemporary art isn’t necessarily about quality craftsmanship. She said she was impressed with the level of creativity in the region. The runner up prize went to Anne Taylor, for a mixed media assemblage.
The public is encouraged to vote for the People’s Choice Award, which will be announced on 4 February. There will also be a People’s Choice Award at the Salon de Refusés exhibition which Wai Art is running at Carterton Events Centre until 13 January.
Currently on show at Aratoi: Friends of Aratoi Art Awards, until 3 Feb; Vincent Ward Breath 2012, until 28 Feb; Salt: Sound, Light, Touch – Tina-Rae Carter, until 15 Dec; On the Edge – Wairarapa’s Coastal Communities, until 1 Dec. Muka Youth Prints - annual one day exhibition, 28 Nov.