Laurel Stowell 23rd September 2009
Esther Topfer is now the first winner of the first Wanganui National Art Award.
And she’s thrilled.
An art student for eight years, she said art wasn’t just something she did.
“It’s actually a great part of my life.”
Her winning work, Glory, combines religious images in an effort to achieve unity.
“I would like to try and bring all the religions of the world together, to create a peace in the world. There are Christian images, and Buddhist images, and witches flying around in the background, which is my spiritual belief, the Wiccans.”
Belief is glorious, she said.
“So many people are losing their faith in today’s society. I think it’s important that we do believe that there’s something greater looking after us.”
Her work used the traditional silkscreen method, but on glass.
After that it was painted and collaged, with items like Panadol capsules and a clothing label added.
Topfer began studying art in 2002 at Wanganui Polytechnic. She did a certificate in design, then a three-year glass diploma and is now in her third year of a Bachelor of Fine Arts.
Next, she intends to study computer graphic design, and after that she wants to teach art at a high school.
“I’ll be able to offer the children the most diverse range of skills.”
Another third year Whanganui UCOL BFA student, Aaron Potaka, started the art award. His Optiv101 Fine Arts and Multimedia Studio donated the $200 prize.
He said this was just its first year, and in time, with patrons and benefactors, the prize would grow to thousands of dollars.
He entered three of the show’s 20 works. Others came from Hawke’s Bay and Wellington.
His own entries were disqualified from judging because he was one of the judges, along with graphic novelist Dylan Horrocks and printmaker Rowan Gardiner.
He said the award was not about him – it was about Wanganui taking its place as one of the movers and shakers in contemporary New Zealand art.
“Wanganui demands an art national, because it’s a leading city in training and nurturing art. That’s why I established this.”
• The award show at the Community Arts Centre finishes on Sunday.