The award challenges artists to create innovative artworks using at least fifty per cent No. 8 wire. Established in 1997, it’s partnered by Waikato Museum.
Well-known sculptor Brett Graham judged the awards this year. He said, “Pater Prime is an imposing piece due to its size, and has a sense of freedom. Given the inflexibility of the wire, it’s impressive that Jenta Griffin was able to give his work such a feeling of movement.” He added that the bird-man concept, as well as being mythical, resonates with the popular culture of super-heroes.
Jenta works from home in Omaha Valley Road. He was brought up in Freemans Bay, opposite Philippa Blair and with Tony Fomison next door. He remembers coveting Lego but it was far too new and exotic. Instead he crafted stuff from old bricks, clay, the broken glass from car windscreens. “Treasure,” he says. He’s a builder by trade to pay bills these days, but even that is a creative outlet.
He now works in a range of materials including bronze, wood, paint, ceramic and found materials, but it’s his first time working with wire. “It was hard at first,” says Jenta. “I nearly gave up, but got really angry with it instead. That worked. Then I calmed down and figured out ways to use leverage to get the curves I wanted. I had pretty sore hands for a while.” He holds them up, nicked and scarred.
And the title? Pater is Latin for Father, and also a reference to deities; and prime is of course a number being only divisible by itself and one – but also a nod to the concept of ‘primal’. “The winged man is a primal image, and the bird is really a symbol of New Zealand identity – it’s built into our psyche,” Jenta says.
Pater Prime is exhibited alongside the other 24 finalists at ArtsPost Gallery until June 27.