The winner of this year's $20,000 New Zealand Painting and Printmaking Award, Auckland artist Stephen Ellis has also won the competition's people's choice award.
With more than 5000 visitors to the exhibition at the Hamilton Gardens Pavilion during the recent Hamilton Gardens Arts Festival, there were many votes to count at the conclusion of the two-week series of event.
Each of the 44 works displayed received votes, but Ellis' work titled We Asked for Signs was a clear winner.
The New Zealand Painting and Printmaking Award is our country's most valuable, acquisitive cash award for New Zealand artists in the fields of contemporary painting and printmaking. The $20,000 prize very generously sponsored by the Philip Vela Family Trust was presented to Ellis at a gala opening on February 14. The winning artwork is purchased each year by the Philip Vela Family Trust for their collection.
The Sir James Wallace Trust also purchased four artworks this year to add to their collection.
Success in this competition has been a springboard for many of the winning artists who have moved on to significant careers in the contemporary art field.
This year's call for entries attracted more than 250 entries from a diverse array of our country's contemporary artists.
The 46 finalists' works were selected by judge Courtney Johnston, the director of Lower Hutt's The Dowse Art Museum.
Rendered in millions of strokes of ballpoint pen, We Asked for Signs is a large drawing of an imagined landscape that points to the possible futility of our actions in the face of massive environmental change, Johnston said.
"The generosity of the Award is life-changing," Ellis said. "It will allow me to stop work and concentrate on art-making for a few months, and hopefully finish my masters degree. I am so very grateful to the Philip Vela Family Trust for the opportunity they have given me."
Johnston also selected Hannah Depree's Boys Club and Jessica Pearless's After Kauri as merit award winners.
- Waikato Times