Artistic talent was showcased and celebrated the 2019 Rotorua Museum Arts Awards, with a first for these awards taking place.

Rotorua's Mark Noble won both the online and the gallery vote for the More FM People's Choice Award, and it is the first time in the history of the Art Awards the same artist has won both.

During the Rotorua Museum Art Awards Exhibition, which ran from October 23 to November 10, there were 1050 gallery votes cast as the public viewed the pieces on display.

Mark, with his piece titled Why-Tangi, was the overall winner with 111 votes.

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He also had the top number of online votes, with 218 votes. There were 871 people who voted online from around the world.

Mark received $1000 for both the online and gallery votes.

He was also awarded the Friends of Rotorua Museum Emerging Artist Award in the Rotorua Museum Art Awards.

He says the Emerging Artist Award was announced at the opening of the awards' exhibition.

"I felt very humbled and privileged to win the award. It felt like a great achievement for myself and provided a lot of hope for the future and my art career."

The People's Choice Award was announced at a later date, and Mark says when he got the call he was surprised as he had been under the impression the award would be given to two people.

He says he felt happy when he found out, though it would have also been awesome to be able to share the award.

It took Mark about 70 to 80 hours to work on his Why-Tangi piece.

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He says it was created using pencil and clay, and he tries to use eco-friendly and earth-friendly products where possible. This is why he chose to use clay, as well as for its representation of Papatūānuku.

In the description Mark says this work has aspects of the creation story.

"The imagery of sky, fog, sunlight and the male model's face seek to portray Ranginui while Papatūānuku is represented through the imagery of hills and the use of natural earth clay - the material used to form all of the imagery that is yellow.

"The work demonstrates the innate connection of all humans to earth itself. Particularly so for Māori, whose spirituality is expressed through their connection to the land, here portrayed in the flowing and fading combination of the model's moko ora with the landscape and sky.

"The rural farm fence and barren hills demonstrate land that has changed due to policies and actions from colonisation through to the present day. This change is seen by many as disregard towards that innate connection.

"The portrait is positioned looking right, representing a psycho social understanding of moving forward and remaining strong."

Iwi Le Comte won this year's $10,000 Rotorua Museum Supreme Art Award with his work Te Ipukarea, ahead of 187 other entries.

Rotorua Museum Art Awards judge Leafa Wilson noted while it was the smallest work in the entire exhibition it had the most overwhelming and warm presence.

"I was immediately drawn to this work which is made of Ōnewa stone and pearl inlay.

"Lovingly made with contemporary tools, the aspirations, mana and mauri of Le Comte's tīpuna have breathed life into this taonga. The scale of a work doesn't automatically signify the mana that it exudes," says Leafa.

Her feedback on Mark's work included, "Mark Noble's work is an impeccably drafted work. It seeks to reimagine Ranginui and Papatuanuku. I awarded this work the Emerging Artist Award because of its sheer beauty for someone who is emerging in their art practice."

Mark thanked the Rotorua Museum and all the sponsors that help put on the awards, and all the artists from throughout the Bay of Plenty that entered.

"I think it's cool to have everyone creating and getting together."

Rotorua Museum Art Awards 2019
- Rotorua Museum Supreme Art Award: Iwi Le Comte with his work Te Ipukarea ahead of 187 other entries
- Toi Ohomai Innovation in Art Award: Heather Kremen for her work Protected in the Night
- Lockwood Youth Award: Bree Straker for her work
- Friends of Rotorua Museum Emerging Artist: Mark Noble for his work Why-Tangi.
- Merit Certificates: Jeanette Pleijte and Lynette Fisher for their respective works Christchurch 15-03-19 and Me Too (2018).