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Walters Prize announcement

Auckland Art Gallery MEDIA RELEASE

For Immediate Use: 14 April 2008

The finalists for New Zealand’s richest and most prestigious contemporary art award have been decided.

The $50,000 Walters Prize, similar to the Tate’s Turner Prize, is awarded for an outstanding contribution to contemporary art in New Zealand in the past two years. Previous winners were Francis Upritchard in 2006 for Doomed, Doomed, All Doomed, et al. in 2004 for restricted access and Yvonne Todd in 2002 for Asthma and Eczema.

Named in honour of artist Gordon Walters, the prize was established in 2002 by founding benefactors and principal donors Erika and Robin Congreve and Jenny Gibbs to make contemporary art a more widely recognised and debated feature of New Zealand cultural life.


Edith Amituanai nominated for Déjeuner 2007, shown at Anna Miles Gallery, Auckland.

Lisa Reihana for Digital Marae 2007, shown at Govett-Brewster Gallery, New Plymouth.

John Reynolds for Cloud 2006, shown at the Biennale of Sydney, Art Gallery of New South Wales, Sydney.

Peter Robinson for ACK 2006, shown at Artspace, Auckland.

Each finalist will receive $5,000 thanks to major donor Dayle Mace. They were selected by a jury of four experts appointed by the Auckland Art Gallery.

Auckland Art Gallery Director Chris Saines says “The Walters Prize set out to focus on the contemporary work but it unconditionally celebrates the contemporary artist. Eight years and four prize exhibitions on, the artists who have participated in the prize are, without exception, continuing to push out and to re-shape contemporary New Zealand art. It has proven an incredibly reliable core sampler of our best new work."


Jon Bywater - Programme Leader for Critical Studies at Elam School of Fine Art, The University of Auckland.

Elizabeth Caldwell - Senior Art Curator at Te Papa Tongarewa.

Andrew Clifford - curator at Gus Fisher Gallery, The University of Auckland, freelance writer and broadcaster.

Rhana Devenport - director of Govett-Brewster Art Gallery.


The international judge for the 2008 prize will be named later this year. They will select the winner, announced at a gala dinner in late October. The winner will receive $50,000 and an all expenses paid trip to New York, including the opportunity to exhibit their work at Saatchi & Saatchi’s world headquarters.

The 2006 Walters Prize judge, Carolyn Christov-Bakargiev, is currently chief curator at the Castello di Rivoli Museum of Contemporary Art in Turin and is curating the 2008 Sydney Biennale.


“In looking at artwork made since the last Walters Prize, we sought to identify those exhibitions that have done the most to focus and to steer the concerns of art and the way it is discussed in Aotearoa New Zealand. The four finalists have done this by making refined presentations reflecting art making strategies that have particular resonance now. For the first time, two artists previously selected have made the final four. Their new bodies of work represent significant developments in practices already noted by previous jurors for their prominence in the national art conversation. A long short list was finally reduced to a swarm of single-word paintings, sculpture that punches its way through a wall, photographs that show us pro rugby players working in Europe, and an installation that depicts the demi-god Maui riding a surf board”

See... Full release with juror's comments (PDF)

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