Auckland artist Gina Ferguson has taken out the top prize in the 2021 Fieldays No.8 Wire National Art Award with her work Wear'n' tear.
The $7000 prize was awarded for the winning work's "stunning visual impact and inventive use of gorse, soap and wire", according to this year's judge Virginia King.
The renowned sculptor said the imagination, skill and creativity put into the winning creation is incredible.
"Wear'n' tear resonated with me on so many levels – the artist's thought-provoking concept and creative transformation of No 8 wire left me with a sense of intrigue," she said.
"The task of whittling the competition entries down to my top three has been extremely tough but also an immense honour. I'm in awe of all the works submitted this year – I feel truly inspired."
Morrinsville-based Heather Olesen placed second for her entry Liquid Life and Cherise Thomson from Auckland was placed third for dune profile no.1.
The event also featured the President's Choice Award, which was chosen on behalf of NZNFS president James Allen by NZNFS chief executive Peter Nation and NZNFS Board member Lynette Pearks. Hamilton's Naomi Roche got the Fieldays' nod of approval with her creation Spare Ribs.
The annual competition, hosted by Waikato Museum, partnered with Momentum Waikato Community Foundation and supported by the New Zealand National Fieldays Society (NZNFS), challenges artists to turn an iconic Kiwi farming product into art and stake their claim to a share of $8500 in prize money.
King said the annual open call to artists across Aotearoa continues to provide a unique platform to reinvent an everyday farming product and turn it into a compelling work of art.
With public installations across New Zealand and Australia, the Kawakawa-born artist praised the finalists' works for representing a cross-section of artistic styles and inspirations that range from climate change and the Covid-19 pandemic to rural tales and farming life.
NZNFS chief executive Peter Nation said it was difficult to choose a winner for the President's Choice Award due to the high calibre of the finalists' work.
"The No.8 Wire National Art Award has proven to be as inspiring, thought-provoking and delightful as the first exhibition back in 1997. All of the artworks on display are stunning.
"I'm very proud of the society's longstanding relationship with Waikato Museum. It never ceases to amaze me what people can do with No 8 wire, and I'm always blown away by the artists' creativity," he said.
Momentum Waikato chief executive Kelvyn Eglinton said this annual competition has become a focal point for artists around the country.
"I'm thrilled our organisation continues to partner with an established art award that highlights the resilience and innovation of Aotearoa's rural community," he said. "The ability to support the rural community is core to our strategy."
Waikato Museum director Cherie Meecham said it's a privilege to host an award that has developed into a landmark on the New Zealand art scene.
"The competition itself and the exhibition it fosters bring awareness to an innovative piece of agricultural history that's become part of our nation's psyche."
All artworks in the exhibition are available for sale.