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Student Shortlisted for National Art Awards


19 August, 2014

EIT ideaschool visual arts and design student Tara Cooney has been shortlisted in the Wallace Arts Trust Awards – New Zealand’s most prestigious awards for contemporary art. Tara has been a selected as a finalist for her series of three wooden sculptures, ‘Roger, Ruth, and Paris’, crafted in repurposed wood as part of her portfolio of work for EIT’s Bachelor of Visual Arts and Design.

The awards, which encompass painting, sculpture, video, drawing and unique photography, provide overseas artist residencies ranging from three to six months in New York, Vermont, San Francisco and Solothurn in Switzerland.

Tara’s entry encourages the viewer to encounter the sculptural pieces as though they have some machine- like purpose. They aim to evoke a sense of curiosity.

“Yet they are designed with limited function,” she says, “and remain purposefully pointless.”

A second-year degree student, Tara considered what conceptual form a new model of reconnection may take in response to an increasing dependency on technology and the development of the ‘restless user’.

The series of three assemblages are a tactile investigation of handles, strings and moving parts. In what they reveal and what they hide, they challenge the viewer to consider how meaning might be generated.

The 31-year-old student says the constructs, influenced by Marcel Duchamp, Kurt Schwitters and Stephane Mallarme, appear to have a nihilistic approach to the model of rational capitalism and industrialisation intent on seeking maximum speed, maximum efficiency and maximum output.

“Embedded within this is a sense of irony as the notion of the machine is deliberately subverted, upsetting the balance of function and predictability.”

Tara’s work will already be familiar to Napier shoppers and visitors. In 2012, she won the city’s Box Art competition, having responded to Napier Inner City Marketing’s challenge to beautify the variously-shaped transformer boxes in the CBD.

Tara took as her motif an unravelling ball of wool and, drawing on stories of the city’s past, she incorporated that into the designs applied to the boxes.

The exhibition of Wallace Trust Art Awards winners and selected finalists will be open to the public at the TSB Bank Wallace Arts Centre in Auckland’s Pah Homestead from 2 September to 9 November. Works not chosen for that exhibition may be hung in a Salon des Refusés which will run from 2 September to 19 October at the same venue.

From Taradale, Tara will attend the opening of the Wallace Arts Trust Awards exhibition with partner and fellow Bachelor of Visual Arts and Design student Jeff Robertson.


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