The Walters Prize 2020: Nominees announced for New Zealand's foremost contemporary art prize

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The Walters Prize 2020: Nominees announced for New Zealand's foremost contemporary art prize
Sonya Lacey, Weekend, 2018, (installation view), The Dowse Art Museum, 2018. Photo: Russell Kleyn.

AUCKLAND.- Amid its temporary closure due to Covid-19, Auckland Art Gallery Toi o Tāmaki announced today the nominees for the Walters Prize 2020.

The Walters Prize is Aotearoa New Zealand’s most significant contemporary art award. Established in 2002, this year will be the tenth iteration of the Walters Prize, which was conceived as a platform to foreground excellence in the visual arts.

The jury for this year’s prize met in February to select the four nominated artworks. These artworks are selected for their outstanding contributions to contemporary art in New Zealand in the preceding two-year period.

The selected artworks are:

• AKA, 2019, by the all-women, Māori art collective, Mata Aho. First exhibited in Àbadakone | Continuous Fire | Feu Continuel, National Gallery of Canada, Ottawa, 8 November 2019–5 April 2020.

• A Body That Lives, 2018, by Auckland-based Fiona Amundsen. First exhibited at ST PAUL St Gallery, Auckland University of Technology, Auckland, 28 September 2018–26 October 2018.

• Weekend, 2018, by Wellington-based Sonya Lacey. First exhibited in Solo, The Dowse Art Museum, Wellington, 10 November 2018–17 March 2019.

• Now Spectral, Now Animal, 2019/2020 by London-based Sriwhana Spong. First exhibited at Edinburgh Art Festival, 2019 and at Auckland Art Gallery Toi o Tāmaki, 22 February–7 June 2020.

The 2020 Walters Prize jury members are:

• Allan Smith, freelance curator/writer and senior lecturer, Elam School of Fine Arts, University of Auckland

• Nathan Pohio, (Ngāti Māmoe, Ngāi Tahu), artist, assistant curator, Christchurch Art Gallery Te Puna o Waiwhetū

• Melanie Oliver, former senior curator at The Dowse Art Museum, Lower Hutt, now curator, Christchurch Art Gallery Te Puna o Waiwhetū

• Charlotte Huddleston, director, ST PAUL ST Gallery, Auckland University of Technology

Auckland Art Gallery’s commitment to the Walters Prize ensures that these nominated works, or new works created by the shortlisted artists, will be presented for the public in a forthcoming exhibition. A winner is selected from the prize exhibition and awarded NZD$50,000.

Auckland Art Gallery Director Kirsten Paisley says: ‘We are delighted to announce the nominees of the Walters Prize 2020 and to bring to the fore the achievements of these New Zealand artists over the last two years. For all these artists, their nomination is a recognition of the strength and resonance of their work and we greatly anticipate an exceptional exhibition.’

‘Due to the impact of Covid-19 on the visual arts industry, it is more important than ever that Auckland Art Gallery continues to support contemporary artists and provide platforms for the voice of artists to be heard in these uncertain times.’

Walters Prize alumni over the last 20 years now represent an active group of New Zealand artists operating on the international stage.

Auckland Art Gallery Curator, Contemporary Art, Natasha Conland says: ‘For 20 years, the Walters Prize has provided a platform for discussion and debate in New Zealand art – each year reflecting new areas of interest or focus. In 2020, the prize continues to provide visibility to artists who have demonstrated outstanding achievements in their practice within a single body of work, this time with a group of entirely women artists. We are delighted to draw attention to these nominated works, which demonstrate unique engagements with Indigenous culture and historical enquiry.’

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