FINALISTS: Mata Aho Collective, with Whakatane artist Sarah Hudson, and Terri Te Tau, Bridget Reweti and Erena Baker, have been nominated for a substantial art prize for their work AKA.

WHAKATANE artist Sarah Hudson says she is excited to be part of an art collective that has been nominated for a top contemporary art prize worth $50,000.

Hudson is a part of art collective Mata Aho, and they have been nominated for the Walters Prize 2020 for their sculpture, AKA, which was recently purchased by the National Gallery of Canada.

Hudson is exhibitions curator at Te Koputu, Whakatane’s library and exhibitions centre.

She said the collective’s work was a 14-metre sculpture made from more than a tonne of marine rope.

Mata Aho Collective sought advice from Whakatane’s Manktelow Consulting Engineers to safely install AKA.

AKA was mostly created in New Zealand.

“We did most of the weaving here in Aotearoa; our studio in Palmerston North was only 10 metres high, so we then spent another week weaving it in site in Ottawa.

“We used a customary Maori finger twining technique, whatu, which is usually used for textiles and scaled it up using one-inch thick marine rope.”

EPIC: AKA, 2019, by the all-women, Maori art collective, Mata Aho, is on show at the National Gallery of Canada. Photos supplied

She said although they spent four months physically making the work, the whole project took about a year to design, which included working with the exhibition team and engineers in Canada, and rope manufacturers and engineers in New Zealand.

“We’re a pretty handy bunch,” Hudson said of the collective.

“We’re getting used to traveling to foreign places and installing big works.

“We’ve exhibited in seven countries over the last few years, and we’re thankful that this nomination allows us to work here in New Zealand during these extraordinary times.”

Hudson said they saw the nomination as a huge opportunity to further ground their work at home.

“It offers us a national platform to help us support the legacy of indigenous women who create and take up space in the art world,” she said.

The announcement for the prize was made by Auckland Art Gallery Toi o Tamaki, which is temporarily closed.

Other nominations include A Body That Lives, 2018, by Auckland-based Fiona Amundsen, Weekend, 2018, by Wellington-based Sonya Lacey, and Now Spectral, Now Animal, 2019/2020 by London-based Sriwhana Spong.

The nominated works will be included in an exhibition at Auckland Art Gallery when it reopens.