The winner of the Northland Arts Trust's 2019 Open Ceramics Awards is Richard Parker whose lifelong work in pottery began with his first lesson from visionary artist Yvonne Rust.
A workshop run by Rust in 1973 prompted Parker's decision to become a full-time potter.
In 1987 he received a Queen Elizabeth II Arts Council grant to be resident artist at the Quarry Arts Centre in Whangārei, a centre spurred into life in large part by his former tutor. Her name now graces the gallery in which Parker's and 50 other ceramicists' pieces entered in the second biennial ceramics awards were exhibited. Parker's previous successes include winning the Portage Ceramic Awards in 2002. His work is held in private and gallery collections throughout New Zealand and Australia.
The second major award in this year's event went to Whangārei potter Greg Barron, who won the premier award in the inaugural competition two years ago.
Barron has also featured at the prestigious Portage Ceramic Awards, taking second place in 2016 and merit awards in other years.
This year's awards judge was Moyra Elliott, a potter who is even better known for her writing on the New Zealand and international scene.
She described the entries as ''a spectrum of what is currently practiced under the name of ceramics''.
When looking at a pot, she foremost looks for good form and proportion, confident clay handling and finishing.
''The vase by Richard Parker is the piece I'd most like to take home,'' she said.
''It's heavy - vases should be, or the weight of the flowers can tip them over. It's not a teapot that should be light for its size because it will be filled with hot liquid and handled. It's a good height for many a bunch of flowers.
''It was wire cut from a solid clay block, and not fiddled with, left fresh, then later hollowed once the outside had firmed.
''The form is dynamic, its method of making is evident. It's different on every facet and the glaze sits perfectly while being a great colour for a vase, green. What could be more appropriate?''
The glaze also references a traditional T'ang Chinese style, she said.
Second place Barron's ovoid form is a pot designed to stand alone, Elliott said.
''It does not need flowers and there is much happening on this surface.''
Wood ash effects on bare clay left at the opening ''gifted'' a vibrant orange, and the copper-bearing glaze gave a subtle, beautiful matte surface around the pot. The surface changed with every viewpoint - from violet, grey, turquoise, blush pinks and wine reds, she said.
''It's truly a fantastic glaze finish for a well-scaled pot. It's also very well made indeed.''
Meanwhile, the People's Choice will be decided when all votes are counted after the exhibition ended on Saturday.