Visual arts student Evelyn Tautakitaki won the top prize at the Eden Arts Art Schools Award, a competition that showcases outstanding work by students from Auckland art schools.
Evelyn's work – a sculptural installation titled Pukepuke 'a e Lea Tonga – secured her place as the overall winner at the award exhibition hosted at ST PAUL St Gallery on Thursday 19 July. She received $5,000 in prize money, while students from Unitec and Elam received $1,000 in the highly commended category. Fellow AUT student Reha Maheshwari was awarded the Eden Arts' Board's Choice Award of $500.
Evelyn said that landing the prize was an honour.
"I didn't think I would be so blessed to win amongst the talent that was exhibited that night," Evelyn said. "I am grateful to have won. It has boosted my confidence to keep pursuing my art – specifically this series that I hope to explore and develop more."
Pukepuke 'a e Lea Tonga is part of a continuous series exploring the Tongan concept of koloa (in abundance of, wealth).
"A value that I hold dear is the importance of lea Tonga (Tongan language) in Aotearoa, and how Tongan migrants can retail this cultural koloa," Evelyn explained.
Evelyn is in her final year of a Bachelor of Visual Arts at AUT and says that studying here has been an "enriching experience”.
"As a visual arts student I see a wide range of art practices from everyone and there is always something new to learn," Evelyn elaborates. "AUT has given me space, connections and support to deepen my art practice."
The Eden Arts Art School Award showcased work from students at central Auckland's four major art institutions: AUT, Elam, Unitec and Whitecliffe. Five undergraduate students from each school are selected to compete each year. 2018 marked the eighth year of the competition and was the first time the Award exhibition has been hosted at ST PAUL St Gallery.
Visit ST PAUL St Gallery - 40 St Paul Street in our City Campus - to check out the prize-winning works. The exhibition is open until Friday 3 August.
Find out more about the Eden Arts Charitable Trust on the Eden Arts website.