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King to judge iconic farm art award

Renowned New Zealand sculptor Virginia King (pictured) will judge the 2021 Fieldays No.8 Wire National Art Award, with entries opening today.

The annual award, hosted by Waikato Museum, partnered with Momentum Waikato Community Foundation and supported by the New Zealand National Fieldays Society, challenges artists to turn an iconic Kiwi farming product into art and stake their claim to a share of $8500 in prize money.

The four-times winner of Sculpture on the Gulf’s People’s Choice Award said the open call to artists across Aotearoa provided a unique platform to reinvent an everyday farming product and turn it into a compelling creative work.

“This competition celebrates the versatility of a tough but also delicate Kiwi agricultural product, which can be tied, twisted, braided, woven, wrapped or just left in coils,” Ms King said.

“It’s an honour to be this year’s judge – I’m excited to see what people are able to create and the brilliant stories that go along with each piece.”

With public installations across New Zealand and Australia, the Kawakawa-born sculptor is inspired by mythology, history, science and literature and uses recycled materials to draw attention to climate change, which has fuelled her practice since the late 1980s.

Ms King has created an extensive portfolio of large-scale site-specific works, including Willinga Plume at Canberra Airport, Reed Vessel in Melbourne’s Docklands and Heart of Oak in Christchurch. In 2019, the award-winning artist was invited by the European Cultural Centre to exhibit during the Venice Biennale – an affirmation of her extensive body of work and position as one of New Zealand’s leading sculptors.

Waikato Museum Director, Cherie Meecham said it’s a privilege to have Virginia King judging this year’s award.

“I’m delighted Virginia is on board to select the finalists and eventual winners of the competition – her skills and credentials speak for themselves,” she said.

“Waikato Museum is proud to be hosting an award that embodies Kiwi ingenuity and brings awareness and appreciation to an innovative piece of agricultural history that’s become part of our nation’s psyche.”

New Zealand National Fieldays Society President, James Allen said the award was about turning a simple agricultural product into a thought-provoking piece of art that tells a great story.

“We’re proud to be supporting a competition that encourages creativity and reflects our national ethos and the heritage of the Society,” he said.

Momentum Waikato Chief Executive, Kelvyn Eglington said the annual competition had become a focal point for artists around the country.

“I’m thrilled our organisation is partnering a unique challenge that highlights the resilience and innovation of the rural community,” he said.

The streamlined online entry system allows artists to upload multiple images of their work and ensures the integrity of the award’s blind judging process by keeping the artists’ identities confidential.

Last year’s winner, Napier-based artist Asaki Kajima, created a Dali-inspired sculptural artwork entitled Space Cow. This year’s winner will receive $7000, with prizes of $1000 and $500 for the second and third place-getters respectively and further prizes awarded for People’s choice and President’s choice.

The award culminates in a month-long exhibition at Hamilton’s ArtsPost Galleries & Shop, opening on Friday 23 April. Selected finalists could also be invited to have their work displayed at Fieldays.

Fieldays No.8 Wire National Art Award competition details:

• First prize: $7000
• Second prize: $1000
• Third prize: $500
• President’s choice: $100 ArtsPost voucher
• People’s choice: $100 ArtsPost voucher
• Entries close: 1pm, Friday 12 March 2021
• Finalists notified: Week of 22 March 2021
• Winners announced/Award ceremony: 5.30pm, Thursday 22 April 2021
• Exhibition: Friday 23 April – Monday 24 May 2021
• Venue: ArtsPost, 120 Victoria Street, Hamilton. Open daily 10am – 5pm.

To read the competition criteria and access the entry form, go to

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