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Elam students jointly awarded top watercolour prize

Elam School of Fine Arts honour’s student Gowoon Lee in front of part of her award-winning work.

Elam students jointly awarded top watercolour prize

Two fine arts students have been awarded joint first prize in this year’s Henrietta and Lola Anne Tunbridge Scholarship for watercolour painting, with works the judges described as “cleverly pushing the boundaries of the medium”.

Elam School of Fine Arts honours student Gowoon Lee (22) from Epsom and masters student Yu Na Lee (29) from Hillsborough received $6,000 each from the $15,000 prize pool at a packed ceremony, held at Projectspace gallery on Tuesday night.

The award is given annually to an Elam student at the University of Auckland who excels in the exploration of contemporary themes in watercolour. Named after Lola Anne Tunbridge, a keen watercolourist who died in 1999, the scholarship is one of the New Zealand’s largest art prizes.

Senior Lecturers Jon Bywater and Joyce Campbell from Elam were joined by Lissa Henson from the Guardian Trust to judge the entries from dozens of submissions. They described the winning works as ‘employing a huge diversity of approaches which deftly engaged with the world’.

“The scholarship is such an amazing opportunity for our students to explore and extend the boundaries in this timeless medium thanks to the generosity and vision of Lola Tunbridge. This year I’m delighted to see the high level of skill and inventiveness on display,” says Head of Elam School of Fine Arts, Professor Derrick Cherrie.

Elam School of Fine Arts master’s student Yu Na Lee in front of part of her award-winning work.

Second prize of $3,000 was awarded to Jerome Ngan-Kee (21) from Mt Albert, for a series of artworks partly produced with a computer plotter using watercolour pens.

The scholarship is awarded by the Henrietta and Lola Anne Tunbridge Charitable Trust, which is administered by trustee and wealth management company Guardian Trust. The public can view an exhibition of finalists’ works at Projectspace gallery until the end of the month. There will be a further chance to also see both Gowoon Lee and Yu Na Lee’s work, alongside fellow students, at the upcoming Elam Graduate Show held in November.


The University of Auckland’s National Institute of Creative Arts and Industries comprises the Elam School of Fine Arts, School of Architecture and Planning, the Centre for Art Studies, the School of Music and the Dance Studies Programme.

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