Auckland-based mixed-media artist Te Rongo Kirkwood will be calling Whanganui home for the next month, as New Zealand Glass Works' (NZG) first artist in residence.
Kirkwood, who specialises in kiln formed glass, said she had been surprised when the residence was offered to her by the NZG selection panel.
"I didn't think I had a chance because I'm not a glass blower," Kirkwood said.
"I thought I'd put it [the application] in anyway because I've always wanted to give it a go."
Kirkwood has been working in glass for 15 years, and draws from and explores her Māori (Waikato, Taranaki, Te Wai-o-Hua, Te Kawerau, Ngāi Tai ki Tamaki), Scottish and English ancestry.
She is a three-time finalist at the Australasia-spanning Ranamok Glass Awards.
"I work with sheet glass, and infusing that glass then manipulating it with hot and cold processes," Kirkwood said.
"It doesn't have the immediacy that glassblowing does, and that's what's beautiful about this [the artist residency], it's an entirely different way of working for me.
"With my type of glass I have time in between to think about it and prepare my design and patterns, and then put it in the kiln.
"It can be weeks until the end of that one piece is made, whereas these guys are making quick decisions about the direction of the design."
The residency is supported by funding from Creative New Zealand.
Selection panellist Leanne Williams said she found Kirkwood's application "innovative, interesting and a great departure from her existing work".
"Toi Maori and tikanga will be a great aspect for NZ Glass and the wider glass sector to experience and support," Williams said.
"With her great skills I believe Te Rongo will present an interesting new body of work and this will be a great asset for inspiration for the wider art sector."
Kirwood said her original proposal to NZG involved exploring the gourd form.
"It's been done quite a bit already in glass, but I'm taking a focus on the ritualistic use of the form and the different ways it's been used from that more conceptual perspective.
"What I'm trying to do is use colours and patterns to tell stories about different esoteric uses of the form itself.
"Then of course you've got the fruit form of the hue (gourd) itself, which is so beautiful. Hopefully we'll have time to focus on that too, but that depends on those first two or three weeks."
The residency would give her a chance to work on ideas she hadn't delved into before, Kirkwood said.
"Because glass is such an expensive thing to work in, it's very easy to get stuck in doing commissions and the work that sells.
"You can lose sight of your other ideas, and that's why these kinds of opportunities are like absolute gold for artists."
NZG manager Scott Redding said Kirkwood would be doing an artist talk for the Sarjeant Gallery at the end of June, and another for UCOL students that was "still a work in progress".
The residency was the only one of its kind in the country, Redding said.
"After Te Rongo has finished her residency we'll be planning a summer exhibition for her here at the Glass Works," Redding said.
"We'll be trying to schedule that from January into March, for Artist Open Studios.
"The exhibition will be focused on the process and the journey of the residency, rather than just showing all the finished work. I think that will be more interesting for everyone."