Canterbury artist big winner amid dual Fieldays celebrations

Two of Hamilton’s cultural institutions became an homage to all things agricultural tonight with two exhibition openings celebrating New Zealand’s rural spirit.

At ArtsPost Galleries & Shop, the winners of the Fieldays No.8 Wire National Art Award were announced, with Canterbury’s Akky van der Velde taking out the top prize for her work Outside the Square.

At Waikato Museum Te Whare Taonga o Waikato, the 50 Years of Fieldays exhibition was opened, documenting the event’s half-century journey from humble beginnings to economic powerhouse.

New Zealand National Fieldays Society President Peter Carr said it is a privilege to open both exhibitions, one celebrating where this iconic event has come from, and the other the representation of how diverse the event now is and will hopefully continue to be for the next 50 years.

The Fieldays No.8 Wire National Art Award invites artists to forge no.8 wire and other agricultural products into sculptural artworks.

Outside the Square was one of 23 finalists in the running for the major prize of $7,000, with the judge, Director of Te Uru Waitakere Contemporary Gallery Andrew Clifford, praising van der Velde for “creating something magical with an economy of materials”.

“This piece is articulate and understated,” says Mr Clifford. “It grabs attention with a big dose of colour. Its sophistication is in its simplicity, easily understood but a delight to look at, held together only by gravity and the magnetic forces of metal.”

Fiona Clark from Taranaki was the runner-up for her sculpture Bushtail Mammal 1837, while Auckland’s Bev Goodwin placed third for her work Play Time. Each received $1,000 and $500 respectively.

This year’s President’s Choice Award, selected by Peter Carr, went to Sophie Prendergast of Auckland for Life Tree.

The No.8 Wire National Art Award is the first of this year’s Fieldays festivities, with the exhibition featuring all 23 finalists running at ArtsPost until 11 June. 50 Years of Fieldays is open at Waikato Museum until 19 August 2018. Waikato Museum and ArtsPost are open 10am to 5pm daily and entry is free.

Image: Akky van der Velde, winner of the Fieldays No.8 Wire National Art Award, with her work Outside the Square.

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