Entries for The Portage Awards must be in by August 6th. So, just a bit over a week to go. I imagine kilns are warming up all over the place by now. Usually by this time Te Uru have announced who is to be the sole judge. However, we have had no announcement that I have seen. Seems Te Uru may have finally complied with our long-standing tradition of no judge named until after entries are in. This was begun with the Fletcher Awards back in the 1970s and our single, secret jurying system stood us well for many years and was favourably received by entrants from overseas who enjoyed the integrity in the system, which was unique to us. Like with the Fletcher, the Portage has employed jurists from off-shore following consultations of various sorts via a diversity of means. Last time, in 2017, precedents were overturned by choosing the judge from within New Zealand and Emma Bugden did the honours. This time it could well be that we will again have a home-based juror because the published timing probably does not allow for an off-shore process. While entries must be received in a bit over a week, there is until October 27th for the finalists to be announced and then only until November 8th, less than two weeks, for the Award announcement evening itself. Compare that timing with how it used to be when jurors were drawn from far off-shore… Or maybe we have gone back to Australia, which is easily accessible- but then we should probably save the fare and just take one from here as any Aussie worth his/her salt with the know-how to be the Portage juror is pretty aware of what is happening here. The exhibition will run until February next year.
There is a new player on the scene this year with the inaugural Emerging Practitioner in Clay Award at the Quartz Museum of Studio Ceramics in Whanganui. An event intended to be triannual. With a prize of $10,000 it will be judged by a jury of three – Rick Rudd, (whose concept this is,) Paul Rayner and Tom Seaman – two studio ceramists and a collector, all Whanganui based. Those regarded as finalists will be announced any minute now and they have a couple of weeks to get their works transported to Whanganui. The announcement of the awards will take place Monday 24 September and the exhibition will run until the end of March next year. There is no mention of any opening event to celebrate this new award. Watch this space…
Just who or what constitutes an ’emerging practitioner” is not clarified. But if you see yourself as one, I hope you entered. The jurors will have your self-penned bio and decide if your assessment is, or is not, accurate and if they consider you have already emerged – you have to try for the Portage I guess. However, they ask for up to 20 works in printed image with just one of those works, identified by you, as the entry piece. That should inform most experienced jurors on where any emerging practitioner might be – and smart is any entrant who uses that condition fully and well. The work must have been made after June 2017, there’s no entry fee and no runner-up prizes. So, good luck to all who enter!
Then, even more… UKU Clay Hawkes Bay is a new national ceramic award to be held in the Hawkes Bay region (obviously, and as uku is Maori for clay that is not where the repetition ends!) This one, under the re-named Ceramics New Zealand, is to be biennial and entries for that close on August 31st. There is an entry fee of $25.00. Opening event for this award will be on 27th October at CAN Gallery in Napier and it runs, not for the whole summer but a bit under four weeks at November 21st.
There you go, three national competitions all closing and being judged in the latter part of the year- all requiring a single work (which of course might be more than one piece) and the show to have about 60 exhibits. All on exhibition at the same time of year. A traveller around the North Island could be excused for wondering…. Seems somewhat unthinking by the later events to have these juxtapositions but as Portage is annual, and the other two biannual and triannual I guess that gives them time to confer, rethink and readjust before the next agglutination of look-alike events. Conceivably someone who was unselected for the earliest could enter the same piece for the next and if still unsuccessful enter the third. Does that matter? Or enter identical works (or close to it – there’s plenty around) for each, win all three if the work is judged suitably wonderful.
I feel a bit like something from Doctor Seuss, saying, “Oh the riches we shall see”!