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Te Uru a world class gallery for contemporary art

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Titirangi now has one of the finest art galleries in New Zealand. It has international standing and it is utterly stunning. It is Te Uru Waitakere Contemporary Gallery, a world class gallery, and one of the few in New Zealand with all of the attributes necessary to stage international exhibitions.

Te Uru has five galleries, all with breathtaking architecture, purpose built to host and display contemporary art. Humidity, temperature and light are controlled to very fine tolerances and there are high levels of security appropriate to the protection of extremely valuable works.

The new gallery was built adjacent Lopdell House as part of a $20 million re-development of the historic Lopdell Precinct. Some $12 million was funded by Auckland council with the balance contributed by major donations from The Trusts Community Foundation, Lotteries Grants Board and ASB Trust, among others.

Te Uru is one of the few galleries in New Zealand to concentrate solely on contemporary art, “the art of our age”. This will give it a central role in the New Zealand arts scene, ahead even of such international institutions as Te Papa and the Auckland Art Gallery.

One of the country’s more recognized ceramicists and painters, Louise Rive of Auckland, carried off the first prize and $15,000 in this year’s The Trusts Portage Ceramic Awards, with a work entitled ‘The Space Between’.

The Trusts has the honour and privilege of sponsoring the Awards, which are the richest and most prestigious in New Zealand. The winning piece will be added to the Portage Ceramic Trust’s collection of first class ceramic art.

More than 260 entries were received. The winner and 4 merit awards were chosen from 50 works selected for exhibition. They varied in size from fingernail-miniature to multi-piece, metre-high installations and ranged in colour from porcelain white to eye-popping psychedelic.

The 50 pieces will be on exhibition at Te Uru Waitakere Contemporary Gallery in Titirangi until 8 February 2015, comprising the gallery’s first summer exhibition. A People’s Choice Award will be awarded during this exhibition.

The Award was selected by this year’s international judge, Takeshi Yasuda and presented on the awards night held at the newly opened Te Uru.

Mr Yasuda said he looked first and foremost at “whether the work moves me; it needs to tell a story and capture my attention emotionally or spiritually and in this case, the winning work displayed an overwhelming sense of emotion. ‘The Space Between’ conveys powerful universal feelings that people anywhere in the world can relate to. The work’s quality of finish is excellent, but it does not overpower nor is it independent of the expressive quality of the work”.

Some 2000 visitors passed through the Gallery on opening weekend featuring two days of tours. There were exhibitions, an eclectic mix of musical genres from string quartets to rock and roll, highlighting the fact that Te Uru is for everyone.

Fittingly, the first exhibitions include the Portage Ceramics Awards which have returned to their natural home after an absence of two years and soon, Black Rainbow, an exhibition from Te Papa that includes Ralph Hotere’s ‘Black Paintings’ and work by Professor Michael Parekowhai.

Auckland artist Louise Rive took the top prize at The Trusts Portage Ceramic Awards.

The 4 merit awards went to:

• Kate Fitzharris for her work, ‘After the Feelings Come the Thoughts’.

• Madeleine Child, for ‘He Loves Me, He Loves Me Not’.

• Duncan Shearer, for ‘Bottle and Two Cups’. • Frank Checketts for ‘Wheel’.

An inaugural, international scholarship was also awarded to Hokitika ceramicist Chris Weaver. Established in 2001, The Portage Ceramic Awards are New Zealand’s premier showcase for the ceramic arts.