Two artists from Napier have been selected as finalists in a record-breaking year of entries for the 2021 Parkin Drawing Prize.
Susan Mabin for 'Mapping the flora of Tutaekuri River' and Ana Taylor for 'Ana' are among a shortlist of 80 works which have been selected for the national drawing competition, founded by philanthropist and arts patron Chris Parkin. The national competition attracted 563 entries, the highest number for seven years. Attracting a major prize of $25,000, 10 highly commended prizes worth $500 will also be awarded.
The works will be showcased at the Parkin Drawing Prize exhibition at the NZ Academy of Fine Arts from Tuesday, August 3 to Sunday, August 29.
Recycled pants, living bacteria on a ceiling tile, op-shop bed sheets, and ball point pen on eco-toilet paper are just some of the materials used to create the works.
"It's quite remarkable to see such a strong number of entries, especially given the year we've all had. It proves creativity is alive and well in Aotearoa but also it comes down to the fact the competition has become such a prestigious event and built up a fantastic reputation over the years, no one wants to miss out," Chris says.
All the artworks will be for sale, giving admirers and collectors the opportunity to purchase some pieces unlikely to be seen again, with many finalists not represented in any gallery.
Susan says she has a multidisciplinary art practice, working in the fields of installation, sculpture, painting and photography.
"As part of my art practice I like to spend time in an environment and allow that environment and the materials that I find there to lead the way."
'Mapping the flora of Tutaekuri River' evolved from a recent move to an area close to a portion of the Tutaekuri River which flows below the historic Ōtātara Pa site.
"As I spent time there, I wanted to document my experience of this place aesthetically. The most prolific materials that I was drawn to were the flora, being an abundance of weeds and the occasional native plant."
Susan says the nature and qualities of the materials that make up this river flora map are aesthetically pleasing to look at, whether weed or native.
"The flora map also can be seen to reference environmental concerns as well as acting as a metaphor for colonisation."
She says to be shortlisted as a finalist this year feels really good.
"I find that competitions such as this one can be good for an artist, having the deadline to enter an artwork can help to push your practice, perhaps try new materials, resolve some ideas."
Ana says the work she painted was about experiencing grief.
"A worthy figure in my life passed, forcing me to re-evaluate emotions. My subject is falling apart, the objects are alive, morphing, showing curvature and forcing visual concentration."
She says this artwork is important to her.
"I have this emotional attachment through not only my personal feelings but others and how they also reacted to grief too. Initially this was expressed through my subject and the environment they are involved in."
Ana says as an outsider you walk in and are overwhelmed with colours and this unique composition must be first processed to understand.
"You soon realise subtle but quite important contradictions that are made with part of the title 'To my Sun', while the imagery appears to show a night scene. In addition to this the colour seems too intense for this scene, therefore, using pattern and form I was able to challenge this concept and make the work seem surreal."
She decided to enter the Parkin prize on a whim.
"I was taking a gap year from high school and had some free time to fill. I challenged myself to create an artwork as I really enjoy painting. To my surprise I received an email saying I made the cut which I didn't expect, so I was really excited to know I would be able to stand on level ground with other artists I may not have seen before. I'm looking forward to being part of the evening regardless of the outcome as I gain new experience I can learn from and initially enjoy."