'Artists of the future' recognised at Emergent awards

The New Zealand Art Show is setting up for another year of big sales - and for a handful of artists, it's their most high-profile moment yet.

The Emergent award gives students a chance to wow buyers at the annual show, and make them the next big names in Kiwi art.

"It's amazing the amount of people that come through this show," says Emergent nominee and photographer Michael Lamb.

"As an emerging artist, getting eyes on the work is the important thing. A couple of sales would be nice as well!"

Mr Lamb is one of 25 students and recent graduates up for the award.

"When I walked in before, I was taken aback to see the work on the walls among all the other great artists - so yeah, I'm stoked," the former Massey University student says.

Whittled down from 80 submissions, four artists will get a prize of $2500 - designed to set them up for life beyond the classroom, while their creative spark is still firing.

"They're at quite a sensitive time, where they can either pack it in because it's not financially viable, or keep going," says NZ Art Show executive director Carla Russell.

For Andy Monk, nomination proves it's all paid off. He's traded 20 years of full-time work to pursue his lifelong passion, experimental photography.

Mr Monk studied at small school Learning Connexion, and he says it's an honour to be nominated alongside artists from high-profile schools like Massey and Elam.

"They've got really thoroughbred quality in what they produce, so to be considered amongst them is pretty amazing. It's pretty exciting. I haven't really come back down to Earth to be honest," he says.

Former Massey student Tyler Jackson spends months bending super-hot plexiglass into sculptures for his art.

"You only have about five minutes when the plexiglass is heated up at around 130-140degC when it becomes malleable to form. If you're not happy with the form, you have to put it back in the oven and restart. It's quite hot - you can get burns on your arms," he says.

But seeing it on display means it's all been worth it - even the burns.

"It's awesome to see them all up on the wall hanging, and not falling off," he says.

Each artist had to submit three pieces which made for some tough choices in their portfolios.

"You kind of throw the dice a bit and ask which are my favourite works and which speak to me, and then the thoughts and considerations of others and what they like and enjoy too. So you want to put your best foot forward," says Mr Monk.

Every artwork at the show can be bought, but for many of the Emergent artists, this is the first time their work is going up for sale.

As to what they might spend the money on, Mr Jackson says he'd "just put it towards studio rent, and materials that I owe".

"I've got a heck of a student loan, and heck of an appetite for buying film and using film," Mr Monk says.

Not even a holiday - now that's suffering for your art.


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