$15,000 prize winning artwork shatters

LIBBY WILSON
Last updated 10:27 12/08/2014
 Deanna Dowling
NICK REED/ Fairfax NZ

INTACT: Deanna Dowling, with her prized art work before it shattered.

Contemporary Art Awards.
NICK REED/Fairfax NZ
ART INTERPRETATION: Hamilton students Sheen Huang, front, and Tom Hendry muse over the work of a finalist in the National Contemporary Art Awards.

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It won a $15,000 prize and later shattered.

But that was something artist Deanna Dowling considered with her artwork Tell Someone if Something Happens, which won the National Contemporary Art Awards.

Dowling grew up in Hillcrest and is currently completing a Master of Arts in Fine Art at Massey.

And her fine, handmade plaster tube precariously balanced - or not - on a wooden shelf won this year's competition.

"The slightest touch or bump of the wall could send it over the edge," Dowling's artist statement said of her work.

It had when the Waikato Times visited the Waikato Museum on Sunday.

Her statement almost provokes a shattering: "I have dropped one, and god, the sound is so satisfying . . . Go on. I dare you. The sound is better than glass."

Dowling said she would not deliberately write text which provoked people to break the art work.

She's provided a limited number of handmade tube replacements, but viewers should look with care.

When Otorohanga's Gillian Dampney first saw the tube in pieces, her instinct was to tell someone something had happened.

Then, after reading the text, she thought she'd been tricked.

So she was interested to hear the tube had in fact fallen off.

The contemporary art wasn't what drew Dampney to the museum but she said it was "thoroughly enjoyable".

"It's probably not my old-fashioned idea of art, but it's contemporary art. It's thought-provoking. You really have to look at them," she said.

So she appreciated having the artwork blurbs to provide a bit of background.

Other finalists and winners in the awards range from cut and draped carpet to dripped ink on canvas and beer bottles to woollen bottles.

And the works gave punters plenty to think about.

Hamilton student Tom Hendry said some of the art was hard to comprehend - although he wasn't reading the accompanying notes.

"I don't know what that is for . . . the metal thing," he said of a sculpture.

"I don't really understand it."

With him was fellow student Sheen Huang, who found the art "pretty interesting".

One which caught her eye was the dripped ink on canvas work by Greg Chaston.

Other out-of-towners were Ernie and Janet Fraser from Whitianga, who came across the contemporary art on a visit to the museum.

For Janet Fraser, the recurring thought was: "Well gee, who'd think of that?"

She and Ernie spent some time puzzling over Ina Johann's photo collage before deciding the picture must have been inverted so it was like looking up at buildings from lying down.

"We enjoy what we're seeing but sometimes it does look quite different really," Ernie Fraser said. libby.wilson@fairfaxmedia.co.nz

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- Waikato Times

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