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Parkin Drawing Prize exhibition attracts record art sales

Parkin Drawing Prize exhibition attracts record art sales despite Lockdown

Gallery extends exhibition for another fortnight due to public demand

Art sales in the 2021 Parkin Drawing Prize have hit a record high for the first time since the prestigious national award was launched nine years ago.

Last month, Mark Braunias’ work ‘In search of the Saccharine Underground’ was chosen as the $25,000 winner from an impressive 563 entries nationwide and 80 finalists at the New Zealand Academy of Fine Arts’ Academy Galleries in the capital.

Chris Parkin, arts patron, and philanthropist, acquires the winning work every year but the remaining works on show are for sale, giving admirers and collectors the opportunity to purchase some wonderful pieces that may not have ever exhibited in public before.

Almost $50,000 worth of art sold in the first fortnight of August, an increase of nearly 50% on the entire exhibition last year. A total of twenty-three works out of eighty exhibited have already sold and the gallery is still getting regular inquires, even in lockdown.

The works sold range from the traditional and not so traditional including Creek Waddington's 'Olympic Rings from the Holes in my Pants’ - art made from underpants, Emma Lay's installation work 'Excess Baggage' using charcoal on beautifully created miniature luggage items displayed on the floor, and Stuart Forsyth’s ‘I'm glad you're around. Your presence comforts me’ using living bacteria on a ceiling tile which was snapped up on opening night.

“We are thrilled with the support artists have been getting from members of the public purchasing their work. If their art is their sole income, it is so helpful to them. The great thing about this exhibition is the art prices range from $50 to $6000 so there’s something for everyone’s taste and budget. I think the record sales come down to a number of factors, primarily people not being able to use their money on travel and wanting to sharpen up their home environment,” said Marc Pettie from the NZ Academy of Fine Arts in Wellington.

Ben Plumbly, one of the three selectors for this year’s prize and Director of ART + OBJECT auction house, agrees the loss of overseas travel has resulted in an increased engagement by New Zealanders with the visual arts and the upswing in the number of people collecting work by our artists.

“There’s a large number of new collectors entering the art market which is incredibly pleasing. Although I have noticed the art market increase in value across the board, from the auction house saleroom to the walls of the dealer galleries, the biggest shift in collecting has occurred in the categories of emerging and contemporary art which has a direct and meaningful effect on the livelihoods of practising artists.

The work was varied, exciting and the quality very high across the board in this year’s Parkin Drawing Prize. It is unsurprising that record numbers of those that took the time to engage with the exhibition at the Academy Galleries decided to take the next step and take a work home to live with it. Be warned! collecting art is highly addictive.”

The Parkin Drawing Prize exhibition season will be extended to 26 September when Wellington goes to level 2 on Wednesday. Further information on the award, exhibition and art for sale can be found on


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