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The New Zealand Painting and Printmaking Award 2017

Set up and hosted by the Waikato Society of Arts this nationally significant painting and printmaking award is an important event on the arts calendar in the Waikato and beyond. In its 17th year this award is one of New Zealand’s most valuable cash award for New Zealand artists in the fields of painting and printmaking. The $20,000 prize is very generously sponsored by the Philip Vela Family Trust and they also purchase the winning artwork for their collection. 

Congratulations to the winner Rose Meyer with Journey; from Pen to Print to Paint and the Merit Award winner Heather Straka with Street Parade. 

The Gordon Harris People’s Choice Award also goes to Heather Straka  with Street Parade.

The 2017 New Zealand Painting and Printing Award Finalists were:

Heather Straka, Helen Dowling, Jennie De Groot, Kathryn Stevens,

Gary Freemantle, Lorraine Rastofer, Mere Clifford, Stefan Roberts,

Janet Mazenier, Ayesha Green, Kathy Barber, Pete Scott, Tiger Murdoch,

John Brown, Margaret Feeney, Creek Waddington, Matthew Dowman,

Ellen Smith & Cathy Tuato’o Ross, Thomas Hancock, Peter Felix Muller,

Anneliese Hough, Tracey Osborne & Michelle De Silva, Rose Meyer,

Mandy Thomsett-Taylor, Janet Knighton, Mark Hamilton, Diane Scott,

Patterson Parkin, Andrew Simmonds, David H Brown, Jessica Pearless,

Beatrice Carlson, Marie Le Lievre, Robyn Gibson, Michele Rumney,

Phillip McIlhagga, Julia Oram.

Go to our facebook page to see more images of the award night.


This years judge, University of Canterbury Ilam Art School lecturer Roger Boyce:

 I was invited (via Justin Jade Morgan) and pleased to accept the invitation to Jury the 2017 NZPPA Award.

I received, by surface mail, physical portfolios containing anonymized visual reproductions, and artist’s statements, submitted as open-call entries for the initial NZPPA finalist’s jurying process. My decisions on finalist-work-inclusion and exclusion were based solely on the quality of work and the exhibition venue’s capacity for physical hanging.

There were 170 + initial entries (if memory serves) and from that number 37 finalists were selected to hang. One entry was physically disqualified as it exceeded dimensional parameters - as spelled out in the official entry advices. Leaving 36 finalists on the day of the final, in person, jurying.

Selected for the Merit Award was Heather Straka’s intimately scaled oil, “Street Parade”. The work itself was so atypical of this fairly well-known artist’s recognizable stylistic hallmarks as to render it unrecognizable as ‘a Straka’, until after my final selection.

“Street Parade” is a reverently voyeuristic view of the back of a young woman’s head, neck and shoulders. The painting moves technically from tightly rendered, monochromatic representation of the figure itself - to the loose, suggestively activated slurs and smears of a more thickly endowed background field. The friction and play of tight against loose contributes, in no little part, to the painting’s overall success. Disregarding the gestural ground, Straka’s painting has a complimentary antecedent in the sacralised domestic-eroticism of Vermeer’s female studies. The attention to coiffure, personal adornments and the loving attention to anatomical detail join Straka and Vermeer in common cause.  

Rose Meyer’s Premier Award winning effort - “Journey From Pen to Print to Paint” – is a technical and conceptual tour de force. Her work is both technically and conceptually rigorous – creating precise, calibrated, pre-set conditions which cannily invite, accommodate and entertain contingency. The work’s delight (optical and conceptual delightful, in equal measure) relies upon the artist’s apparent ceding of authorship and direct agency in favor of a sort of deus ex machina conjuring of chance and serendipity.

“Journey From Pen to Print to Paint’s” denouement, however, is dependent on Meyer’s masterly capacity to confidently capitalize (with demonstrated skill, criticality and killing work ethic) and physically heighten given-aesthetic-outcomes. Outcomes arising by way of the work’s inbuilt mechanisms and actual, physical, travel. At no point, in the work’s travel ‘from pen to print to painting’ does the work’s auteur appear to lose focus, flag in energetic input, or drop the technical/executional ball. The final painting could easily exist and flourish, in its own right and object-hood - sans the conceptual back-story of its making. But accompanied by its manufacturing narrative the work exceeds itself and other automatic drawing exercises I’ve encountered, in the art world, over the years. Meyer’s efforts and outcome are truly exceptional – and well deserving of the NZPPA Premier Award.

My thanks to The Waikato Society of Arts, The Vela Family Trust and Justin Jade Morgan for facilitating my pleasurable task.