Estuary art winners announced

Image left to right: Bo Burns, Duvyaa Kumar, Katie Theunissen, Adele White, Jan Holloway, Francis McWhannell, Bruce Kendal, Franca Bertani and Jenny Tomlin. Photo by Events at Uxbridge.

The winners of the prestigious environmentally-themed Estuary Art and Ecology Award have been announced.

On Saturday July 3 at 2:30 pm at Uxbridge Malcolm Smith Gallery there was an exhibition of the award’s finalists chosen by well-known and accomplished writer and curator Francis McWhannell.

The artwork displayed a variety of innovativeness and creative thinking, he the audience during the awards ceremony. “It was the most difficult decision I’ve ever had in an art award.”

First place ($5000) went to Mā Te Huruhuru Artists. The four members of the group are Marion Gordon-Flower, Reuven Blaxall, Neihana Henderson and Chris Zhang.

Their artwork, Tāhuna Tōrea Rock Pool, was a collaborative environmental sculpture which pays homage to the abundance at the Tahuna Torea Nature Reserve – a unique wildlife habitat sited on a long sand bank extending out into the Tamaki Estuary at Glendowie – and to leave a light, delicate footprint. Items on the beach were used to create the sculpture and their work was documented by photography.

Marion Gordon-Flower says that the win was unexpected and that they were all thankful for the opportunity.

Second place went to Katie Theunissen ($2000) with her artwork Estuary, Spring Tide Returned the Moon to Me.

She explored the inlets of the Tamaki Estuary with her underwater camera and then projected it onto mud to “show the interplay between the tactile painted surface and the immaterial, watery projections”.

“I’m happy,” Theunissen says. “It’s been a great journey.”

Third place ($1000) went to Divyaa Kumar with the artwork Ecological Laments I, II, III. This was centred on the concept of “Panpyschism” – the view that all things have a mind or a mind-like quality.

The two merit awards went to Franca Bertani for Foreign Bodies and Jenny Tomlin for Mānawa seed.

These, including the People’s Choice Award that allowed the community to choose a winner for the displayed artwork, were sponsored by the Howick Local Board, Gordon Harris, the Rice Family Partnership and the Tamaki Estuary Environmental Forum. Total prize money was $10,000.

“I’m overwhelmed by the support we’ve been given by the community and our sponsors,” Uxbridge’s centre director Vickie Bowers says. “It’s been fantastic.”

The exhibition will run until August 28 at Uxbridge Malcolm Smith Gallery.