2021 Portage Ceramic Awards to pick Aotearoa’s top potter


The finalists for the 2021 Portage Ceramic Awards have been announced, with a shortlist reflecting the creativity and ingenuity of Aotearoa’s top artists working with clay.

33 works by 30 ceramicists are up for this year’s award, which provides a vital platform to showcase the diversity of contemporary ceramic practice.

With finalists from across the motu, media are invited to interview artists ahead of the Premier Award announcement on 3 December 2021. 

Once the winner is announced, Te Uru in Titirangi will open their annual Portage Ceramic Awards exhibition, with all works selected as finalists on the show to the public for the first time. 

Open to all New Zealand artists working with clay, the Portage Ceramic Awards is Aotearoa’s premier award recognising excellence in ceramic art practice, now in its 21st year.

For 2021, the finalists and winner are selected by two-time Premier Award winner Raewyn Atkinson, marking only the second time in the award’s 21-year history to have a New Zealander in the role of judge.


“It was very interesting to then be ‘on the other side as a judge. It was not something I ever expected to do, but I saw it as a way to give back to the Portage, an award that had benefited me so much. I knew that it would be challenging but had not anticipated quite how enriching the task would be. It was an education to have virtual access to studios across the length of Aotearoa and to see current trends,” says Raewyn Atkinson, 2021 Judge.

The finalists embrace a wide range of media, including clay, stoneware, and terracotta, with a range of glazes, stains and firing techniques, as well works that incorporate photography, videography, and mixed media elements, from shells to stones to electronics. 

“It was a challenge to be called on to select from a wide range of divergent styles. Despite this, I think it is a good thing that there are no categories, leaving the work free of pigeonholing,” says Atkinson.

The winners will be announced on 3 December, with the exhibition of works open to the public from 4 December 2021 – 27 February 2022, subject to Alert Levels. 

A post-awards talk with the judge will take place on Saturday 4 December at 11am, either in the gallery or online, also subject to Alert Levels.

Over the coming summer, art lovers from West Auckland and beyond can head to Te Uru in Titirangi for a chance to see the works of the finalists and winner in person.

For more information, visit online or The Portage Ceramic Awards on Facebook.

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