Winner grateful entry turned up

COLLETTE DEVLIN
Last updated 05:00 07/08/2014
Parkin winner Douglas Stichbury
ROSS GIBLIN/ Fairfax NZ
SEARCHING FOR A MEANING: Parkin Drawing Prize winner Douglas Stichbury with Observer, which won him $20,000.

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To the artist, it was simply an impulsive drawing, but to an arts prize judge it was mysterious and poetic.

Douglas Stichbury's Observer last night won the 2014 Parkin Drawing Prize, worth $20,000 - much to the surprise of its modest creator.

The Wellingtonian was in disbelief at his success, and said he had just been relieved his entry even arrived. Last year his drawing got lost in the post and turned up too late.

Observer is based on a collage of images from a newspaper archive.

"Through drawing I try to find out what is intriguing me about a subject matter and I choose things based on sentiment rather than content."

It was up to the audience to be the observer and contemplate any meanings. "I don't know if it has a meaning. If I knew, then I think I would not have finished it."

Stichbury, who now lives in Basel, Switzerland, said he worked from morning to night for five days on the piece.

The vibrancy of Wellington meant artists could experiment more with less risk, which made it a good place to be creative, he said.

Gregory O'Brien, who chose the winner, said he had spent many hours in the NZ Academy of Fine Arts gallery in Wellington mulling over the entries. About 454 drawings were submitted from New Zealanders living at home and around the world.

Stichbury's entry, chosen from the 80 finalists, was audacious, he said. It was also mysterious and poetic.

"Often drawings are quiet and discreet, but Stichbury's charcoal had a mixture of confidence and subtlety.

"It could hang in a gallery of paintings and hold its own."

The enigmatic drawing conveyed echoes of eras gone by and was realistic but not in an obvious way. It left him mulling what story was hidden underneath.

This is the second year the competition has been held, and Museum Art Hotel owner Chris Parkin, who sponsors the prize, said he was in it for the long term.

He wanted to create a legacy of drawings from the competition and, in order to produce a collection, the prize would have to continue for at least 25 years.

Five highly commended prizes, worth $500, were also awarded. The works of all 80 finalists are on display at the Academy of Fine Arts until August 25.

Academy curator Natalie Jones said the competition was aimed at playing an important role in fostering New Zealand drawing practice.

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- The Dominion Post

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