ZAFAA18 WINNERS ANNOUNCED
The Ashburton Art Gallery in partnership with Zonta Club of Ashburton are delighted to present the Zonta Ashburton Female Art Award 2018 (ZAFAA18) an annual exhibition held at the Gallery which is now in its second year. This unique award highlights the work of female visual artists in Canterbury, and acknowledges excellence in emerging and mid-career female artists with the aim to empower them for their future development.
The work of the 32 finalists were presented in the awards exhibitions which opened on Friday 2nd March alongside ZAFAA17 premier winner Fiona Van Oyen’s solo exhibition, Memory of Place Takes Flight. A panel of three judges had the challenging tasks of choosing the two winners consisting of art sector professionals Johanna Zellmer (Dunedin), Felicity Milburn (Christchurch) and Cara Fitzgerald (Timaru).
As part of the opening formalities judge Felicity Milburn acknowledged this year as a significant one for New Zealand women, as it marks the 125th anniversary of the universal women’s suffrage being passed into law. She acknowledged how this award embodies a similar spirit to the suffrage movement. Milburn said the awards gave “confidence in women to contribute and excel, and the desire to give them the chance to stand in their own patch of sunlight.”
A great aspect of these awards is the Young Generation Award of $500 which recognises the potential of a young artist between the age of 16 and 20. This year’s recipient was Emma Mealings from Ashburton for her work Summer Holidays!. Milburn spoke about how this work “combines a strong concept with a good understanding of how this might be resolved in material form.”
The judges had a hard task of choosing only one winner for the premier award who will take home a cash prize of $3,500 and the valuable opportunity to extend their practice with a solo exhibition at the Ashburton Art Gallery in 2019. All judges were impressed by the number of strong photographic, painting and sculptural work included, but unanimously agreed on Unknown Cloak by Emma Fitts of Christchurch. Johanna Zellmer presented the premier award on behalf of the judges saying “We all had felt its ability to push and pull the viewer into different directions, sitting in a space between the intimate, domestic and the wider colonial experience located within the Pacific. It is also performing different aspects when being seen from a distance versus being up close with it; it holds its space in both encounters. As a panel we agreed that the chosen artist’s engagement with architecture, biographies and alternative histories in a broader social context contributed to our desire to see a larger group of works driven by these ideas as a solo show.”
The ZAFAA awards exhibition and Fiona Van Oyen’s solo exhibition will run from the 3rd of March until the 31st of March. Fiona Van Oyen will present a floor talk in conjunction with her exhibition on Sunday 11 March at 2:00pm.
Felicity Milburn is a curator at the Christchurch Art Gallery Te Puna o Waiwhetu. She works with artists on a wide range of projects and exhibitions and has worked on, and contributed to numerous national and international publications which have supported significant exhibitions.
Cara Fitzgerald is the Director of the Aigantighe Art Gallery in Timaru. With a background in Fine Arts, she was working at COCA (Centre of Contemporary Art) in Christchurch until it was closed by the Canterbury earthquakes. Cara then moved to Timaru to take up the position of Collections Curator at Aigantighe Gallery in 2012. And is now leading the institution which houses the 3rd largest collection in the South Island.
Johanna Zellmer is a practice artist and senior lecturer at the Dunedin School of Art. Zellmer completed her Masters at the Australian University of Canberra School of Art and undertook formal training as a Goldsmith in Germany. She has an impressive exhibition and publication history and is a passionate educator, researcher and advocate of the arts.
Image credit: Winners with the panel of judges for Zonta Ashburton Female Art Award 2018 (ZAFAA18). From left to right Johanna Zellmer, Emma Mealings, Emma Fitts, Felicity Milburn and Cara Fitzgerald.