Imagine being fresh out of art school and then having one of New Zealand’s leading dealer galleries choosing to represent you!
That has been the experience of Nelson artist and Diploma of Ceramic Arts (Level 6) graduate, Bridie Henderson. Graduating from the Dunedin School of Art at Otago Polytechnic in 2011, Bridie really enjoyed the Diploma.
"The programme opened my eyes to the endless possibilities of ceramics,” she says.
During her studies and at the age of 25, Bridie became the youngest ever entrant to be awarded the supreme prize at the national Portage Ceramic Awards.
“In my final year of the Diploma, I entered the competition just hoping to be accepted but ended up winning the Supreme Award and the $15,000 prize money,” explains Bridie. “It’s the most amazing thing that’s ever happened to me and still to this day makes me smile thinking about it.”
Her winning entry, Feathers, was described by international judge Janet Mansfield as “exceptional”.
Janet went on to comment that “many ceramic artists are inspired by the flora and fauna around them, but Bridie’s piece takes it one step further. It's a stunning work."
That national achievement, and the recognition that came with it, led her to secure representation by Milford Galleries and the opportunity to have her work exhibited by them.
With her first solo show in 2012 at Milford Galleries, Bridie has been involved in five group shows with Milford over the last year and a half. She continues to work mainly with porcelain and uses different mediums to accompany this, such as wood, feathers and fur.
And Bridie strongly believes that the experience she gained during her Diploma made this all possible, especially the fact that she could study by distance and still undertake practical, hands-on studio work in a high-quality environment.
"I loved being able to do the programme by distance in my home town of Nelson,” comments Bridie. “The local workshop, Craft Potters Nelson Inc. was an amazing facility with a wide variety of equipment available.
“I was also very lucky to have so many wonderful mentors. The lecturers were highly experienced and so incredibly inspiring and approachable, they were always so encouraging. I found them to be so helpful to make this passion of mine achievable."
Bridie is now in her second year of being a full-time Ceramic Artist and is enjoying every moment.