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Eclectic deconstructed teapot wins top ceramic award for Richard Stratton

Press Release – Portage Ceramic Awards
Wellington’s Richard Stratton has been confirmed as one of this country’s most interesting artists working with clay, winning the 2017 Portage Ceramic Awards Premier Prize for his work Forced Turned Teapot.

The Award, with a value of $15,000, was presented to Mr Stratton by this year’s judge Emma Budgen at a ceremony in West Auckland’s Te Uru Waitakere Contemporary Gallery.

Ms Bugden says Mr Stratton’s entry is “a teapot steeped in history, juggling an eclectic blend of craft techniques.”

“…this pot is not just a compendium of methods; it held my gaze with its sincerity and vigour, from its brutalist structure to the delightful whimsy of the handle.”

In his artist’s statement, Mr Stratton says Forced Turned Teapot is “based on [his] research of industrialised historical ceramic practices and formulas of European and English Basaltes wares c.1769.”

In 2013, Mr Stratton won the Portage Ceramic Award’s international Guldagergaard residency, which he took up in 2015.

Whanganui’s Andrea du Chatenier won this year’s residency at the International Ceramic Centre in Guldagergaard, Denmark.

Ms Budgen says of Ms du Chatenier’s work, Yellow Stack, which earned her the residency: “The casualness of this sculpture belies a deft mastery of technique; it takes a specific kind of energy to be this relaxed.”

“Here a stack of tubes incline together, seemingly at the point of collapse, propped up on each other and glued by their own glaze. It’s a sculpture that jostles and fizzes and revels in its formlessness.”

Three 2017 Merit Awards were also announced tonight. One to West Auckland’s John Parker for his work Uncut Penetration, which he describes as referencing science fiction cinema. “A seemingly benign innocuous object emerging from a wall contains a subtext of unanswered questions as to its probing intention. What more is yet to emerge behind this iceberg tip?” says Mr Parker In his artist statement.

Amanda Shanley from Dunedin took the second Merit award for her work, Colouring In, “a still life moment from the dinner table. A dialogue with one cup leaning towards another.”

Lyttleton’s Cheryl Lucas received the third Merit Award for her multi-piece domestic ware representation called Milkstock, which she says is a nod to things that change their character through use and circumstance: “A road worker inverts a traffic cone and it becomes a funnel. My dad ‘borrowed’ a kitchen jug and mixed concoctions for farm use… The land does this too as five million cows are out there doing their thing.”

In a break from tradition, this year’s judge is a New Zealander. Since their inception 16 years’ ago, the awards have been judged by ceramic experts from overseas.

“The unique perspective that each international judge has brought to the country has helped to keep the event fresh and keep us all on our toes,” says Te Uru Director, Andrew Clifford. “This year we wanted to try something different and see how it would work with somebody who has a closer understanding of local contexts in Aotearoa, but will still be able to offer fresh insights. Bugden has made a fascinating and rigorous contribution to the event.”

The 2017 Portage Ceramic Awards winners and finalist works will be on display at Te Uru Waitakere Contemporary Gallery from 10 November 2017 – 11 February 2018.

The 54 works selected for exhibition range in style from eclectic and psychedelic to finely wrought multi-piece modernism; there are affecting intimate works through to activist exclamations. Some are metaphors with layers of imagery while others draw on this country’s fine domestic ware traditions. They were selected from 216 entries by clay artists all over the country.

Established in 2001, The Portage Ceramic Awards are New Zealand’s premier showcase for ceramic arts. Administered by Te Uru Waitakere Contemporary Gallery and funded by The Trust’s Community Foundation, the awards are the country’s best known barometer for developments in the field of ceramics.

The annual awards and exhibition provide a vital platform to showcase the diversity of ceramic artists nationwide.

Emma Bugden is a Whanganui based writer and curator. She was previously Senior Curator at The Dowse Art Museum, where she curated many ceramics exhibitions including Slip Cast, A Modest Modernism: Roy Cowan & Juliet Peter, Holding Holes: Lauren Winstone and the nationally touring exhibition, His Own Steam: A Barry Brickell Survey, co-curated with David Craig with an accompanying book from AUP. As co-founder and editor of Small Bore Books, Bugden is about to publish A Partial Archive of New Zealand Potter (1958 – 1967), an anthology of the early years of New Zealand Potter magazine.

Richard Stratton was born in Dunedin in 1970. He trained at the Otago School of Arts from 1987 to 1992 and moved to Wellington in 1992. Since then, Richard has worked as a ceramic artist, researching and practicing many different ways of producing ceramics. He was recently able to extend his practice by travelling to Europe, Scandinavia and China. Richard has exhibited his work in various galleries, both public and private, and has work held in public collections.

Andrea du Chatenier is a sculptor-turned-potter. She has exhibited throughout New Zealand and her works are held in public and private collections.

John Parker lives and works in West Auckland and is also an award winning Theatre Designer. He has an M.A. in Ceramics from the Royal College of Art, London, received the Waitakere City Millennium Medal for Services to the Community and is a member of The International Academy of Ceramics (Geneva). John received the Arts Foundation’s Laureate award in 2010.

Amanda Shanley graduated with a Bachelor of Fine Arts in Ceramics at Otago Polytechnic in 2004. Her wheel-thrown pieces are minimal in design, as her focus is to make work that is elegant and chosen as a favourite to use every day. Amanda’s studio is a converted butcher’s shop on the Otago Peninsula, where she lives with her husband and nine year old daughter.

Cheryl Lucas was born in 1954 in Central Otago. She received a Fine and Applied Arts DipFA (with a distinction in graphics) from Otago School of Art in 1975, and an advanced Certificate in Lithography from Wimbledon School of Art in 1978. She taught students drawing and ceramics at the ARA Institute, Christchurch from 1987-2005. Since then, she has been making full-time from her home in Lyttleton.

Te Uru Waitakere Contemporary Gallery, based in scenic Titirangi, is West Auckland’s regional art gallery. After two years of redevelopment, Te Uru (formerly Lopdell House Gallery) opened in November 2014 in a purpose-built building as part of the refurbished Lopdell Precinct. Te Uru receives core funding from the Waitakere Ranges Local Board of Auckland Council.

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