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New Zealand Painting and Printmaking Award 2008

The 2008 winner of the 8th annual New Zealand Painting and Printmaking Award was announced to 500 guests at a gala event in the Hamilton Garden’s, February 15, by judge T J McNamara, well known art critic.
Photo: Anne Challinor

 A delighted Michael Taylor (Auckland) received $15,000 for his oil on linen: Venitas: To the actual size of everything.    The sponsors of the Award, the Philip Vela Family Trust, also undertook to purchase the winning work, making this one of the most lucrative awards in the country.

Photo: Anne Challinor
Venitas: To the actual size of everything


T.J McNamara’s notes follow: 

The most wonderful thing about contemporary art is that it is so democratic.   Artists all have their own voice.   There is no prevailing ‘official’ style.

The great pleasure of curating and judging this rich Award has been in encountering so many different points of view and to engage with the absolute sincerity and vigorous expressions of so many artists.

The problem of having to choose an exhibition from the work of nearly 300 artists was considerable, and then there is the further problem of deciding a winner from the 50 finalists.

What governed the first choice between the solemn, the witty, the charming, and the polemic images representing the total involvement of so many artists?

The winning work is beautifully composed.  Every square centimeter has its place in the scheme of things.   The painting goes beyond being an illustration; it has an immediate impact, but does not yield all its qualities at once.   Like a Dutch ‘vanitas’ still-life, it is a meditation on mortality – hence the skull – but it also deals with risk, transience, and varying states of mind.   All this is in a setting that is unmistakably New Zealand.   The work has a subtle, painterly surface, and the contrast between the bright sunlight on the peeling weatherboards of the house and the gloomy, portentous sky is splendidly conveyed.   There are details too, that are impressive. Like the ambiguous sign that sits on the skyline.

The Merit Award paintings offered power, wit, character, energy, history and charm, but not quite so intensely as the winning painting.”

Six merit awardees received Gordon Harris gift vouchers and Deutz to celebrate:


Meredith Collins, Hamilton              Self portrait as creator

Jenny Dolezel, Auckland                Play – Pen

Matt Dowman, Auckland                Soo cool right now

Paul Judd, Hamilton                      A Sweeter Ride

Rob McLeod, Wellington                 Hot Air Running

James Ormsby, Hamilton                Transit of Venus

2008 has been a record year in both quality and quantity of entries to the New Zealand Painting & Printmaking Award.  Out of a record number of entries, 49 were selected as finalists.     WSA spokesperson Pam Nash says “this year also sees a record number of Waikato finalists.   We have a depth of talented artists, and it is pleasing to see them take this opportunity to compete nationally, and to have their work recognized.”    

The Award is an initiative of the Waikato Society of Arts, and is supported by a growing number of national and local businesses.The collection is exhibited at ArtsPost, Victoria Street, Hamilton until 24 March 2008.