Experimental ideas applauded

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METAPHOR: Zonta Ashburton Female Art Award Premier Award winner Marie Porter (centre) with her winning artwork The Rocks. Porter is flanked by (from left) judge Paerau Corneal, Young Generation winner Jenny Wang, judge Ruth Watson and judge Hope Wilson.
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The winners of Zonta Ashburton Female Art Awards (ZAFAA) were announced at the awards ceremony on Friday night.

Now in its eighth year, ZAFAA is for emerging and mid-career female artists in Canterbury.

This year’s Premier Award was won by Marie Porter of Christchurch, for her work The Rocks.

Porter combined found rocks from Horomaka Banks Peninsula with handmade rocks from materials including bronze, clay, and papier mâché. Visitors are invited to touch the collection, and handle an accompanying notebook containing poetry and sketches. Withstanding turmoil through tectonic shifts and eruptions over millennia, rocks are seen in the artworks as foundational and constant. Porter describes them as a metaphor for community in their beauty and collective resilience, and calls them “the DNA of our natural world”.

Judge Ruth Watson said there had been “excellence in execution across the board, as well as some experimental ideas and approaches” in the finalists’ works. She described Porter’s winning work as an act of “highly pleasurable material experimentation”, and expressed her delight in seeing visitors interact with the work.

Along with winning the $4000 cash prize, Porter won the prestigious opportunity to create a solo exhibition at the Ashburton Art Gallery and Museum in 2025.

The Young Generation Award went to Jenny Wang of Christchurch for her sculptural entry Flicker. The judges described the work as “materially ambitious and intriguingly resonant, addressing heritage both physical and cultural”.

Ashburton Art Gallery and Museum director Shirin Khosraviani spoke about the high number of entries for this year’s awards. There were 35 finalists selected from 60 entries for the Premier Award, while 26 entries were featured in the Young Generation Award category, for those aged one to 20 years. It was the highest number of entries every for the Young Generation category.

The awards exhibition will be on display until April 14. Visitors can choose their favourite artwork for the People’s Choice award. The exhibition runs alongside Scents Take Up The Ringing by last year’s Premier Award winner Jo Burzynska, which runs until April 21.

The awards exhibition is delivered through a partnership between the Zonta Club of Ashburton and the Ashburton Art Gallery and Museum, and supported by Ashburton District Creative Communities and a number of Mid Canterbury organisations.

Next year the competition will be renamed to Zonta Ashburton Women’s Art Awards.