Auckland Council’s Botanic Gardens and Friends of the Gardens are pleased to announce the winners of the McConnell Family Supreme Award and The Friends Acquisition Award.
Councillor Cathy Casey, Deputy Chair of the Parks, Arts, Community and Events Committee, says that the standard of the sculptures has been incredible.
“The creativity of the sculptures always impresses me, but this year I am amazed. All the artists had huge challenges around lockdowns and COVID-19 safety measures to overcome, so to see the works in place and being enjoyed by visitors is a real delight. I know that the judges had a real hard time picking winners.”
Curator Linda Tyler agrees, saying “In choosing the prize-winning work, as curators we were looking for sculpture that engaged with the site in a deep and meaningful way. Beyond nature and its many manifestations of beauty, we were interested to find artists who had connected nature with culture, and worked to achieve an outcome that spoke to people as well as to place.
“If we look at the history of the landscape of Aotearoa through an indigenous lens, there are spiritual connections, beliefs and traditions that make up the framework with which Māori live by and have been accustomed to for hundreds of years. They are interconnections between the sea, moon, sun, animals and nature as they are all part of the land. The connection between these are what make up the spiritual bonds with tangata whenua – the people of the land and the land itself.
"This is why we chose the Indigenous Clay Artists Collective work Taiki e! United in Purpose! Because the five indigenous clay artists, Dorothy Waetford from Matapouri, Rhonda Halliday based at Waipapa north of Kerikeri, and Alix Ashworth have worked with Todd and Karuna Douglas from Muriwai Beach to both use the materials provided by the site and also use the stories of the place itself.
"That they have done so collaboratively adds another level of meaning to the work. There is the interconnectedness of tangata whenua and their land, the sacredness in which they treat nature around them and the quality of their relationships that are established collectively to achieve a remarkable aesthetic outcome.”
McConnell Family Supreme Award
The McConnell Family Supreme Award has been presented to the Indigenous Clay Artists Collective. Māori ceramic artists Dorothy Waetford, Rhonda Halliday, Alix Ashworth and Todd Douglas, and New Zealand-born Indian ceramicist Karuna Douglas worked together to create a six-piece collection.
The collective harvested clay from Auckland Botanic Gardens to make the six pieces. That clay was blended with clay from different whenua where the artists are based creating unique connections between Tāmaki Makaurau’s premier gardens and other areas, including Northland. The Supreme Award, provided by sponsors the McConnell Family, gifts a $10,000 cash prize to the artists.
Friends Acquisition Award
The Friends Acquisition Award has been presented to artist Richard Mathieson for his stunning bronze fountain ‘Reservoirs’.
As part of the award, the sculpture will be purchased to remain in the Auckland Botanic Gardens permanent sculpture collection, which now includes 27 works.
Richard Mathieson's sculpture is a homage to life-giving water, and a tribute to Auckland Botanic Gardens.
The cast bronze, human-scale fountain and beautiful location in the Perennial Garden draws visitors in, who are then rewarded with the mesmerising movement and sound of the water. In keeping with the ethos of the gardens, Richard designed the work to run with recycled water, stored in an underground reservoir.
The water flows down the fountain when the sun powers the solar pump. Richard hopes the falling water will attract birds and other wildlife.
The judges of the Acquisition Award describe it as an exquisitely conceived and executed piece, that sits perfectly in the Perennial Garden, enhancing visitors' experience.
The winning sculptures will remain on display as part of the Sculpture in the Gardens exhibition which runs until 3 April 2022.
The coveted Friends People’s Choice Award continues to gather votes throughout the exhibition and will be announced on the final day of the exhibition.
Aucklanders are encouraged to visit Auckland Botanic Gardens, explore the Sculpture path and then vote for their favourite sculpture on the Sculpture in the Gardens website. The artist with the most votes from attending visitors will be awarded a $5000 cash prize.