Wednesday, February 06, 2008


Almost the last thing I did before catching the plane to Queensland in mid-January was drop off the elaborately packaged New Shroud for King Tutankhamun with Kate. As the Shroud was made specially for the NZ Art Guild Art Awards and the Awards organisers would only accept delivery on three days during which I would be in Australia, I asked Kate, my most reliable friend to courier it on my behalf. On the day of the sending I was out of cellphone range, deep in the Daintree, thinking of the Shroud only as a technique I could develop to capture the amazing quality of light filtered through the triple canopy of the rainforest.

In fact, the next time I thought about the Awards was when I got off the plane from Cairns in Auckland, and switched on my cell phone. A voice mail message was waiting from Sophia, the organiser of the NZ Art Guild Art Awards, telling me that the Shroud had been selected as one of 16 finalists, out of over 200 entries! That exciting news did much to ease the wrench of leaving the rainforest. The voice mail reminded me that the opening/awards ceremony would take place two days later at the Bruce Mason Centre in Takapuna.

So Friday night, with a friend from work, I found myself in Auckland sipping punch and looking at all the different ways that artists had interpreted the challenge terms for the Awards. While I was making the Shroud it was hard for me to imagine any other thing I could have done with 'cool blue', 'circular,' stamp' and 'equality'. My equal blue circles stamped out of watercoloured paper seemed inevitable to me... and then I saw so many other possibilities. My favourite was Sheryl O'Gorman's Cause and Effect, a watery blue abstract with amazing depth and subtle texture- which won third prize.

I'm honoured to have been selected as a finalist in the Awards and am inspired that this recognition comes for a piece so very different from my usual books (insofar as anything much I've done in the past six months could be considered usual). The Shroud was my first real two-dimensional piece and, more importantly, one of my rare works without text. Sometimes I feel a tyranny of expectation that I will always provide poetry. Sometimes I just want to let form speak for itself. Shroud being selected as a finalist was an affirmation that even my wordless work has value for people besides myself.

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