Press Release – Portage Ceramic Awards
Jim Cooper’s psychedelic, 30-plus piece installation ‘Millbrook holiday [the league for spiritual discovery]’ has won the country’s supreme ceramic art prize.
The 2012 Premier Portage Award, with a value of $15,000 was presented to the Dunedin-based artist at a ceremony at Auckland Viaduct’s The Cloud’.
This year’s Award’s judge, UK ceramic artist Dr Paul Scott described ‘Millbrook Holiday’ as a bonkers work of immense skill.
“Cooper’s work is the stand out winner. It’s hugely ambitious and works on so many different levels. On the one hand it is very childlike and makes you smile, on the other it is clearly the work of an experienced artist who knows a great deal about glazing.
“There’s a sense of wonder about the work which grows the more you look at it,” says Dr Scott.
Two Portage Merit Awards winners were also announced tonight. The first to Blenheim resident, Fran Maguire for her installation ‘Impulse’ which Dr Scott described as visually stunning.
“Impulse is clearly the work of a skilled practitioner; it’s an outstanding piece of work.”
Grey Lynn, Auckland’s Kate McLean took the second merit award for her work ‘Double Ended Form’ – House series which impressed Dr Scott by the virtuosity of the work’s printing.
“To print well on clay is difficult. This artist has succeeded in producing a beautiful, subtle print and the 3D aspect means the work has multiple variations.”
Each merit award winner receives $3,000.
The 2012 Portage Ceramic Awards winners and finalist works will be on exhibition at ‘The Cloud’ for one week only, from 27 October – 3 November 2012.
Dr Scott says he wanted to ensure there was connectivity between the works in the exhibition.
“I have tried to curate this exhibition with a narrative. It was no easy task though; it was like being a DJ in a world music programme where you’ve got everything from Hank Williams to the Blunder Boys from Zimbabwe!”
The 38 works in the exhibition vary in size from fingernail minute to multi-piece, metre-high installations and range in colour from porcelain white to eye-popping psychedelic. They were selected from 237 entries by clay artists all over the country.
A People’s Choice Award will also be given this year. Entry forms for the public to vote for this Award are available at the exhibition.
Established in 2001, The Portage Ceramic Awards are New Zealand’s premier showcase for the ceramic arts. Administered by Lopdell House Gallery and funded by The Trust’s Community Foundation, the awards are the country’s best known barometer identifying our finest ceramic artists.
These annual awards and exhibition provide a vital platform to showcase the diversity of ceramic artists nationwide. The Portage Ceramic Awards are thrilled to be part of Art Week for the first time this year.
Dunedin artist Jim Cooper’s ceramic sculptures push clay to its absolute limits while adhering to and confirming his fine art intent. Jim has an MFA in ceramics and until recently, he taught at Otago Polytech. Jim is now concentrating on his art making full time because his installations typically include more than 100 pieces with the largest, Peppermints and Incense, having 1000 individual pieces. The installations of figures with colourful glazes are the result of more than 20 years of refinement, during which Jim has been experimenting with modelling clay, firing techniques and glazes. Sgt P, Peppermints and Incense, and Its All Too Beautiful are responses to the record covers from the psychedelic era of the 1960s and 70s. Jim’s re-imagining of album covers celebrate the hand-made with vigorously modelled figurative works. The challenges inherent in constructing these figurative works contradict the casual and playful essence of Jim’s installations and attest to Jim’s skill and determination to continually reconstruct our understanding of ‘ceramics’ by developing fresh and dynamic narrative installations. Jim’s work has received multiple awards including the Supreme Norsewear Award in 2006 and Premier Portage Award in 2009. In 2010 Jim was the Artist in Residence Taipei County Yingga Ceramics Museum.
Dr Paul Scott is a Cumbrian (UK) based artist, author and educator known for his pioneering research into the graphic development of vitreous surfaces. His work can be found in collections and public spaces around the globe, including the V&A, London and the Museum of Art and Design in New York. He is a Professor of Ceramic Art at the Oslo National Academy of the Arts, Norway.