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Fine Feather work wins top ceramic award

Fuseworks Media
Fuseworks Media

Bridie Henderson, winner of this year's supreme Portage Ceramics Award, almost missed out on entering her work as she couldn't afford to bring it up to Auckland for judging.

The 25-year-old Nelson-based ceramics student is the youngest-ever recipient of the country's most prestigious ceramics prize, winning with 'Feathers'; an installation of three illuminated, encased, out-sized porcelain necklaces.

'I had to borrow money off mum and dad to pay for petrol and the ferry ticket so I could get my entry to Auckland. The work is so delicate; I didn't want it sent by courier.'

Ms Henderson, who works part-time as a cleaner, says she is stunned to have won. 'This is the ultimate prize in the ceramic world. It still hasn't sunk in.'

The prize money of $15,000 couldn't have come at a better time; she is finishing off her Diploma in Ceramic Arts this year and working towards her first exhibition.

The work took more than six months to make. 'Each feather took me about an hour, there are 24 feathers on each piece, I made six sets, and chose the best three; there was heaps of trial and error,' she said.

In awarding Ms Henderson with the Premier Portage Award, this year's judge, internationally renowned Australian ceramicist, Janet Mansfield commented that she rarely sees work of such skill.

'The attention to detail seen in 'Feathers' is exceptional. Many ceramic artists are inspired by the flora and fauna around them, but this work takes it one step further. It's a stunning work.'

Second prize went to one of the country's best known tableware potters, Chris Weaver. The multi-award winning Hokitika artist took the award for his 'Made to Measure' teapot.

In presenting this award, Ms Mansfield commented 'Chris Weaver is clearly an accomplished artist. He has made a technically outstanding work and he's had fun with them. They are imaginative and thoughtful pieces.'

Four Merit Awards were presented to ceramic artists from all over the country at tonight's ceremony held in West Auckland.

The 2011 Portage Ceramic Awards merit winners are:

Cheryl Oliver (Tauranga) for her work 'Searching for Clues II';

Maureen Allison (Whangamata) for her work 'From the Ashes';

Kirsty Gardiner (Masterton) for her work 'Artefact.KG.1907-63';

Brendon Adams (Point Chevalier, Auckland) for his work 'Strategies and Outcomes'.

Each merit award winner was presented with a $1,000 prize.

A record number of entries, more than 240 works were submitted in this year's 2011 Portage Ceramic Awards.

The winners, together with the selected finalist's works will be on exhibition at Lopdell House Gallery, Titirangi, Auckland from 14 October until 4 December.

For the second year, the public can select their favourite work by voting in the People's Choice Award. Voting forms are available at the exhibition.

The Portage Licensing Trust established the Portage Ceramic Awards in 2001 as a showcase for excellence in New Zealand ceramics. It is due to the generosity of the Trust's Community Foundation that the awards are the country's best known barometer identifying our finest ceramic artists.

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