Judge Announced for 2019 Portage Ceramic Awards

Portage Ceramic Awards 2019 judge Merran Esson
Merran Esson, Autumn on the Monaro, 2019. Photo by Greg Piper
Australian expert Merran Esson to judge national pottery awards

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Well-known Australian ceramic artist Merran Esson has been confirmed as the judge of this year’s Portage Ceramic Awards, Aotearoa’s best-known survey of contemporary ceramic activity. Esson has been working internationally for more than 40 years but this will be her first visit to Aotearoa.

Esson will visit in October and November to select finalists and winners, and present the awards for this prestigious event, organised and hosted each year by Te Uru in Titirangi with support from The Trusts Community Foundation.

“We are delighted to bring Esson to Aotearoa, to introduce her to our own clay community,” says Te Uru Director, Andrew Clifford. “We also look forward to learning more from her extensive experience of exhibiting and teaching internationally. The distinctive ways Esson’s own work responds to and is situated in the landscape will be of great interest to potters in Aotearora.”

The textures and large forms of Esson’s artworks express the contrast between the extremes of country and city, which she says is an influence from her rural childhood. She uses clay and glazes to reference water tanks, silos and corrugated iron, which remind us of the influence of history and place. 

Esson recently retired as the Head of Ceramics at The National Art School in Sydney, and is currently Lecturer-in-Charge of ceramics at the Australian Catholic University. As well as many other key Australian institutions, she has spent much time teaching in Scotland, including Glasgow School of Art, Duncan of Jorganstone College of Art, Dundee and Edinburgh College of Art.

Esson has exhibited in The Victoria and Albert Museum, London, Galerie Rosenhauer in Germany, Gaffer Gallery in Hong Kong, as well as exhibiting and visiting artist roles in Korea, Taiwan, Sweden, Pakistan, Spain and Japan.

“It’s always exciting to get such an invitation to be part of an event like this in another part of the world that I haven’t been to before,” says Esson, who is looking forward to having a closer experience of work from our country. “I have read a lot about New Zealand ceramics whenever it has been profiled in the ceramic magazines.”

Esson will also give presentations in other centres in Aotearoa through a partnership between Te Uru and Ceramics NZ, the national body for professional and recreational potters.

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Established in 2001, the Portage Ceramic Awards is a hallmark event for the Aotearoa New Zealand ceramics community, showcasing some of the best work currently being made, and serving as a platform for dialogue about developments in the ceramics field.

Entries for the 2019 Portage Ceramic Awards close on Monday 12 August. The selection of finalist works for the awards is a two-stage process. Approximately sixty works will be chosen by judge Merran Esson from submitted photographs. Shortlisted artists will be invited to send their works to Te Uru for final selection, where the judge will confirm the award winners and works for exhibition.

The Awards’ finalists will be announced on 4 November 2019. 

The Premier Award winner and Merit Award winners will be announced at the Awards Night held at Te Uru in Titirangi, Auckland on Thursday 21 November.

The finalist works will be exhibited at Te Uru from 22 November 2019 – February 2020.

More information about the awards can be found at www.teuru.org.nz/portage

For an interview with Merran Esson, for high-resolution images or for further information please contact:

(09) 818 8087
info@teuru.org.nz
www.teuru.org.nz

Further information: 

About Merran Esson:

Merran Esson is an Australian artist who has been making works of art using clay for over 40 years. Her artworks express the contrast between the extremes of country and city. Influences from her rural childhood combine with the urban confines of city life to produce large containers connecting in ways that explore mutual survival. Objects in outdoor spaces have for many years interested Esson, sitting as reminders of water tanks and silos in the Australian rural landscape. Working with clay as a material that can mimic a metal surface, in particular corrugated iron as used in Australian bush architecture, Esson investigates a range of cultural influences, reminding us of the influence of history and place. 

Esson has exhibited in The Victoria and Albert Museum, London, Galerie Rosenhauer in Germany, Gaffer Gallery in Hong Kong, also in Korea, Taiwan, Sweden, Pakistan, Spain, Japan and numerous galleries in Australia. She has been a visiting artist in China, Korea, Scotland, Sweden, Taiwan, Japan, Spain and Pakistan.

Esson holds a Master of Arts from Monash University (2004). She was winner of The Austceram Award (1994), Port Hacking Award (2000), Gold Coast Ceramic Award (2005), Nava Marketing Grant (2006), National Art School Studio Residency at The Cite Internationale des Arts Paris (2006), Poyntzpass Pioneer Ceramic Award (2008), highly commended in The Woollahra Small Sculpture Prize (2014) and winner of the Muswellbook Art Prize in Ceramics (2019).

Her work is held in international collections including Argentona Ceramics Museum, Spain, the Museum für Kunsthandwerk und Gewerbe in Hamburg, the Westerwalld Keramik Museum, Hohr-Grenzhausen, Koblenz, Germany, National Taiwan University of Arts, and The Yingge Ceramics Museum, Taiwan. She also has work in the collections of The National Gallery of Australia, The Art Galleries of South Australia and Western Australia, The Gold Coast City Art Gallery, The Bathurst Art Gallery, The Muswellbrook Shire Art Collection and numerous galleries and museums in Australia.​

Esson has extensive teaching experience, including Kambala Girls School (1978-81), Ravenswood (1995), various TAFE colleges, College of Fine Art UNSW, National Art School, Sydney,  Glasgow School of Art, Duncan of Jorganstone College of Art, Dundee and Edinburgh College of Art (1993-94); She has recently retired as the Head of Ceramics at The National Art School in Sydney, and is currently Lecturer-in-Charge of ceramics at the Australian Catholic University (2019).

She is a member of the International Academy of Ceramics, Switzerland. ​

Esson is represented by Stella Downer Fine Art in Sydney. 

About the Portage Ceramic Awards:

Established in 2001, the annual Portage Ceramic Awards are Aotearoa-New Zealand’s best-known survey of contemporary ceramic activity. Administered by Te Uru with support from The Trusts Community Foundation, the awards are a hallmark event for the New Zealand ceramics community, showcasing some of the best work currently being made, and serving as a platform for dialogue about developments in the ceramics field. The awards are open to all New Zealand artists and are a key outlet for new work and new voices.

The Premier Portage Ceramic Award carries a prize of $15,000. Up to three Merit Awards totaling $3,000 are also on offer, and a People’s Choice Award is announced at the exhibition’s conclusion. The overall winners will be announced at a ceremony to be held at Te Uru on 21 November 2019.

About Te Uru:

Te Uru is a regional gallery based in scenic Titirangi, gateway to the Waitākere rain forest and en route to Auckland's famous west coast beaches. We are locally rooted in West Auckland but globally minded. As a destination gallery, Te Uru operates from an award-winning purpose-built building, which opened in November 2014 as part of the redeveloped Lopdell Precinct. The gallery originally began in 1986 in the historic Lopdell House building as the Waitemata City Arts and Cultural centre, later known as Lopdell House Gallery. Now sited next-door, we continue to present a diverse programme of contemporary exhibitions, events and activities, complemented by exceptional architecture and spectacular views of the surrounding area. Te Uru receives core funding from the Waitākere Ranges Local Board of Auckland Council.

Written by

Te Uru Waitākere Contemporary Gallery

1 Aug 2019

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