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Judges impressed by technical skill and attention to detail at Wanaka’s Aspiring Art Prize

Judges impressed by technical skill and attention to detail at Wanaka’s Aspiring Art Prize

An abstract oil painting of Dunedin’s Port Chalmers was judged Supreme Winner at the Craigs Aspiring Art Prize in Wanaka tonight.

Boat Study (View from Deborah Bay) by Dunedin contemporary artist Philip Maxwell was awarded the Craigs Investment Partners Prize of $10,000 at the opening night of the exhibition at Holy Family Catholic School.

The annual event attracts artists from around New Zealand and is becoming a nationally recognised art award, offering one of the biggest cash prizes ($16,500 in total) in the country. It is one of the school’s biggest fundraisers, raising about $22,000 each year.

The Runner-Up award, a $2000 prize donated by New Zealand Sotheby’s International Realty agent Craig Myles, went to Wanaka artist Sophie Melville for her watercolour Winter Shadows over the Lindis Pass. Best Landscape, which was awarded a $2000 prize donated by Peak Accommodation, went to Sarah Adam for her oil painting Sundown Evening Gown and the Best Work Under $1000 went to Ruth Mitchener for her oil painting Ngā Manu Sanctuary. A new category, The Round Corner, showcasing paintings on a 40cm diameter round, priced under $1000, sponsored by Wanaka Self-Storage was won by Sandy Rodgers for her mixed media painting Loved to Death.

Thirty-one artworks were sold on Friday night, to the value of $43,000. The remainder is up for sale until Tuesday, January 12, when the exhibition ends. The People’s Choice Award, sponsored by Nanny Goat Vineyard, will also be announced at the end of the exhibition.

Judges for this year’s Aspiring Art Prize were Professor Federico Freschi (Head of College of the College of Art, Design & Architecture at the Otago Polytechnic) and Robyn Notman (Head Curator of Pictures at the Hocken Collections). They were impressed by the range and variety of works that displayed attention to detail and technical skill, submitted by 124 well-known Kiwi artists through to up-and-coming young artists. None of the artwork has ever been exhibited before – making the Aspiring Art Prize the first opportunity for public viewing. Many of the pieces have been created especially for this event.

Also new for this year was the creation of the Aspiring Art Foundation. A portion of the funds raised for the school will be set aside to enable opportunities for budding young visual artists at Holy Family to receive extra opportunities throughout the school year.

The event is organised by Holy Family’s Friends of the School (FOTS). FOTS chair Sarah Jamieson says the sell-out opening night gala event and interest in the event is indicative of how far the Aspiring Art Prize has come in 14 years.

“Every year we are blown away by the support that we get for the Aspiring Art Prize and this year is no different. This event is our biggest fundraiser for the year and is so important to help pay for extra resources for the school,” Jamieson says.

“We are particularly proud to have created the Aspiring Art Foundation as it will help nurture and encourage artists of the future.”


Aspiring Art Prize creative director Leigh Cooper (far right) and Holy Family Catholic School Friends of the School chair Sarah Jamieson (second from right) with judges Robyn Notman (left) and Professor Federico Freschi.

For more information, please contact:
Holy Family Catholic School FOTS chair Sarah Jamieson
P: 021 070 9761

Celia Crosbie
Written by Celia Crosbie
Celia is an award-winning former journalist who has worked for newspapers and radio stations in New Zealand and magazines in the United Kingdom. She has worked in public relations in both NZ and London. Celia also specialises in digital media strategy and website copywriting for SEO.