One of the great things about group exhibition openings featuring potters and clay works is the excitement in the room as they marvel at one another’s creations and seek each other out for conversation. It was Awards night recently at the UKU Clay Hawke’s Bay 2022 and the feedback of friends and fans found the buzz infectious.

UKU Clay HB Awards is a bi-annual event that is tied in with the Hawke’s Bay Arts Festival. As a national ceramics award it draws entries from all around the motu. 

“The great thing about an exhibition like this is that, as artists we can make something outside of our normal range of work and come up with something quite new and extraordinary,” says potter Annette Bull. “It challenges us and leads into new directions.”

It is the initiative of Annette and her husband, Natham Crossan, after deciding a few years back that the Hawke’s Bay ceramics community needed a home-based national exhibition to extend skills, encourage conversations and boost confidence. They consulted the clay workers locally and sought advice from their peers in other regions and, confident in their enthusiastic support they proceeded with their plans and made it happen. 

Paul Maseyk UKU Clay HB Awards judge

This exhibition was selected and judged by New Plymouth-based ceramicist, Paul Maseyk who says, “All artists who gained entry to UKU should take huge satisfaction from it. It is a fantastic ceramic showcase for Hawke’s Bay and I know future iterations will only get bigger and better so I look forward to the 2024 UKU.”

Paul himself makes highly decorated, complex ceramic work and paintings that are held in many public art galleries around New Zealand and internationally. He is a highly regarded professional artist who brings his own aesthetic sense, knowledge and experience task of selecting the best from over 100 entries and the award winners. 

“There was a full range of ceramic work from wall mounted pieces, lighting, sculpture and wheel thrown pots,” says Paul.Previous judges were John Parker (2018) and Rick Rudd (2020) and their works, like Paul’s, are represented in this show. 

Maseyk took his role as selector very seriously and spent many hours deliberating over the awards selection. “I realise it was one person’s choice as to who wins the awards (in this case me) and others would have chosen differently. However, I chose what I felt deserved the prizes based on the quality and merit of their work.” he says. “I was delighted with the overall quality of the work entered. The show is a great snap-shot of what is being produced on a national level right now.”

So make a visit to Hastings Community Arts Gallery in Russell Street. It’s an exciting collection of masterly vessels and forms, beautifully curated in an elegant Art Deco gallery venue. Allow sufficient time to look at elaborate and eclectic art objects, the surfaces and finishes and the techniques that have been applied. What’s your own response to the artists’ work? What would you have chosen?

UKU Clay HB Awards 2022 exhibition ends on Saturday 29 October.

UKU Clay Hawke’s Bay award winners

The Dental Institute’s Premier Award: Duncan Shearer, Jar

Sai Pottery for Home and Hospitality: John Gisborne, Woodfired Vase

MUSE Gallery Award: Amanda Blewett, ….Death of a Dear Friend

Taradale Pottery Club Local Award: Bernie Winkel, Space Race

Tennyson Gallery Sponsored Exhibition: Evelyn Hodowany, I can’t spare a square

Akina Gallery Sponsored Exhibition: Judith Lauvao, Malaga ole Pasefika

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