Andy Leleisi’uao wins prestigious Wallace art award

Wallace Awards 2017
Pah Homestead, TSB Bank Wallace Arts Centre until November 12; Wallace Gallery, Morrinsville, November 29-January 28; Academy Galleries Wellington, February 19-March 25

The Wallace Awards and exhibition, now in their 26th year, have become the most important art awards in the country.

The awards offer a combined value of $275,000, which includes six international residencies along with several cash prizes.

The awards are most significant because they provide artists with opportunities for further exhibitions and international profiling. Visesio Siasau was given a show at the prestigious Metropolitan Museum while he was in New York, having won the paramount award in 2015.

The awards exhibition will travel from the Pah Homestead, TSB Bank Wallace Arts Centre in Auckland to Morrinsville and Wellington, which gives the public an opportunity to see a range of artists working across the country in a range of media.

The Wallace Arts Trust Paramount Award this year went to South Aucklander Andy Leleisi’uao for his work, Harmonic People, which consists of strips of illustrations with numerous figures and activities occurring. The work can be seen as deriving from ancient Greek metopes, medieval tapestries, tapa cloth designs as well as comic books. Mr Leleisi’uao, was the first recipient of the AUT School of Art and Design Pasifika Scholarship in 2000 and graduated with a master of fine arts with honours. He has participated in several residencies in New Zealand and overseas (notably a research scholarship at Macmillan Brown Centre for Pacific Studies, University of Canterbury and the McCahon House Artists’ Residency; Rarotonga, Taiwan, and Slovakia). he has more than 20 years of art practice, with an extensive list of solo and group exhibitions. His work is included in many major collections including Te Papa Tongarewa, the Auckland Art Gallery, the Chartwell Collection and the James Wallace Arts Trust collection.

His winning work seems to be a retelling of Greek myths, Christian inventions and references to Leleisi’uao’s own created histories.

Other works in the exhibition show a wide range of techniques and style. The paintings include Mathew Couper’s The Chief Mourner and the Last Drops, a mixture of mythology, science religion and surrealism and Noel Ivanoff’s elegant abstracts work Slider – Black#8.

There is Deborah Rundle’s Chorus, where a speaker endlessly plays the 19th-century song On Monday. There are videos from Rebecca Swan, Jeremy Blincoe and Jason Mc Cormick. Several photographs are in the show including works by Christine Jeffs, Alex Lovell-Smith and Christian Nicolson

There are installations and sculptural works by Paul Johnston, Matt Ellwood, Johnny Turner and a remarkable small detailed motor made of paper by Phillip Kickling.

Wallace Awards

Winner – Andy Leleisi’uao  

First runner-up award – Christina Read ($2500)

Second runner-up award – Matthew Couper ($2500)

Jury award winner – James Oram

The Residency Awards

International Studio and Curatorial Programme in New York (six months) – Andy Leleisi’uao

The British School at Rome (three months) – Deborah Rundle

The Kaipara Wallace Arts Trust in Switzerland (three months) – Shannon Novak

Fulbright-Wallace Arts Trust Award in Sausalito (three months) –  Rebecca Swan

The Wallace Arts Trust Vermont (three months) – Matt Arbuckle