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Sculpture tops ‘brutally honest’ award entries

In the News - 7th October 2017 The Gisborne Herald
prize winners were Sam Florence Caption: AWARD WINNERS: Toihoukura lecturer Erena Koopu and Wairoa Museum director Mike Spedding described entries in the 2017 Te Ha art awards last night as of high standard, technically proficient and “brutally honest”. Pictured; Sam Florence for his clay relief work titled Think First.

A SCULPTURE described by Toihoukura lecturer Erena Koopu as evoking feelings of “sadness, madness and happiness” was awarded first prize at the 2017 Te Ha art awards last night.

Held this year at Tairawhiti Museum, and Peel Street gallery Te Kuwatawata, the theme for this year’s entries was “the impact of settlement on native flora and fauna of Te Tairawhiti”.

In a note read by Te Ha trustee Richard Brooking, co-judge and Wairoa Museum director Mike Spedding said entries in this year’s awards were of a high standard, technically proficient and “brutally honest”.

Melanie Tangaere Baldwin was awarded the Pultron Composites prize of $3000 for her painted clay sculpture Nga mamae o te Tairawhiti (the pain of Tairawhiti).

In a note accompanying the work, the artist describes her work as the personification of Te Tairawhiti, “a sad, rough and eroded land mass — broken since the arrival of people.”

Pus exudes from the crying figure’s navel, and a dead eel with crosses for eyes lays on her lap.

The eel refers to the extinction and potential extinction of native fauna.

Twelve-year-old Sam Florence won the $300 Pultron Composites youth award for his startling clay relief Think First that depicts tuturiwhatu (dotterel) eggs laid in yellow sand.

Twin tyre tracks pressed into the clay send a clear message about the vulnerability of this endangered species.

Motorbikes and vehicles driven above the high tide mark are destroying the dotterel’s habitat, says Sam in his notes.

“I’ve seen this happening at Te Tapuwae o Rongokako marine reserve at Pouawa.”

Along with the inclusion of 3D entries in this year’s awards were two new prizes.

The Jack Richards’ prize of $1500 in the highly commended category was awarded to Peggy Ericson for her work The Weight on the Back of Te Kuri a Paoa (the dog of Paoa).

The clay sculpture depicts in the simplified form of a dog the landform commonly known as Young Nick’s Head.

On its back are natural and human-made forms of a bird, tree, house, sailing ship, whare and a canoe.

Dr Richards’ $1000 people’s choice award will be announced at the end of the Te Ha art awards exhibition on December 3.

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