It's a cold, wet and, needless to say, windy morning at CentrePort Wellington. Cruise ship passengers in the terminal have been temporarily replaced by metres of bubble wrap, duct tape and four art enthusiasts fiercely discussing 20 artworks on easels.
Who are they? The NZ Art Show Signature Piece judging panel is made up of trustee Jo Hughes, 30 Upstairs gallery's Mal Brow, Taranaki artist Jordan Barnes and prominent Wellingtonian Jane Hart.
They are choosing the top 10 works that the public will vote on at the NZ Art Show to determine which artist wins $5000.
Panel convenor Hughes has been on the annual NZ Art Show's governing body since its inception 11 years ago, and has served on the selection panel for the past eight years.
"If I look back at that first year, some of the stuff was a bit cringey, but now it looks amazing."
Hughes has no trouble persuading fellow panel members to have an untitled $1100 piece by Jules German go through.
"You might first look at it and just think, ‘Oh, it's a bunch of skeletons'. But it reminds me of that New York photograph of skyscraper builders sitting on a ledge. The artist might not think that, but that's OK."
Brow, who is drawn to the photographic works, says there has been a bit of foot stomping over the years when it comes to choosing the top 10, but nothing a vote cannot solve.
The NZ Art Show, one of the biggest collections of original, affordable New Zealand art, will take place from July 25-27 at TSB Arena, Queens Wharf. Tickets $10.
JO HUGHE'S ART-BUYING TIPS FOR BEGINNERS
1. THE VIEW: "You can have a look at the detail up close and tilt your head but what's always a good thing is to stand a couple of metres back to look at it."
2. IMAGINE IT BY ITSELF
"Imagine all the art around it isn't there. The show can be a bit overwhelming because there is so much art, so you need to picture it in your own home or context."
3. WHICH WALL? "Don't worry about where it's going to go - if you love it, it will find a place."
4. TRUST YOUR INSTINCTS: "You don't have to know why you love it. People get quite nervous about saying what they like but there's no right or wrong answer."
5. AGREEING: "Couples can't always agree, so maybe take it in turns, otherwise your house ends up with all the same art. If I bought only the things I liked, the house would be full of skeletons but my husband likes something different so it balances nicely."
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