Drawing a winner

Parkin Drawing Prize
Academy of Fine Arts Gallery, Wellington
Until September 12

Next week the winner of the Parkin Drawing Prize will be announced by Dick Frizzell. He will be awarding one of the entries $20,000 along with 10 highly commended prizes each worth $500.

An advisory panel of Roger Boyce (University of Canterbury), arts writer Warren Feeney, poet, painter and curator, Gregory O’Brien and artist Judy Darragh have already selected the finalists in the show.

The competition attracted 443 entries and the board selected 80 works for the exhibition at the NZ Academy of Fine Arts Gallery on Wellington’s waterfront.

The awards are sponsored by Chris Parkin, the former owner of the Museum Hotel who amassed one of the great boutique collections of art and objects to be found in the city.

He believes that the value of drawing needs to be recognised as one of the essential elements of art and needs to be fostered.

He says, “The opportunities for artists in this competition are endless – from the traditional (and not so traditional) figure drawing through to pure abstraction and beyond. As a dedicated supporter of the arts, I believe it is essential to offer a national award of this significance and highlight the depth and skill of drawing practice in New Zealand. Internationally, we are seeing a resurgence of interest in drawing as the basis of all visual art forms.

“The 2015 exhibition and award is shaping up to be the most interesting – and possibly contestable yet. It was pleasing to receive submissions in a surprisingly wide and sometimes unanticipated range of materials and contexts.”

The works in the exhibition range from the abstract to the realist, many of the works pushing the boundaries of what would be traditionally thought of as drawing, with video work, along with work more easily described as small sculptures.

There is James Ford’s “Proposition for an invisible drawing #1” ($1800), which consists of a few dots and a couple of lines, not so much an invisible drawing as the tentative start to one. Then there is the highly detailed work “10184” ($4000) by Rebecca Rasmussen with its intricate abstract patterns.

The largest work in the show is a vast project by Gabrielle Amodeo called “The Floor We Walk On” ($6000). She has made rubbings of all the floor areas of her house, a total of 94 square metres. The entranceway and hall areas are on display spread out on the gallery floor with the other works held in large set of folders.

There are other rubbings, such as Hugo Koha Lindsay’s graphite work “Y” revealing the frame and cross bar of a cotton canvas. One of the most impressive of the rubbing works is Tom Mackie’s “Door” ($1800) where he has rubbed directly over an actual door, so it looks as though it is sheathed in lead.

It is a work of great presence somewhere between abandoned object, architectural feature and ghostly drawing. There are also other works which have an architectural quality as with Diane Scott’s “Long Distance Call” ($1200) or Martin Ball’s “Plan for a Japanese’s Garden” ($3500), which features two strips of paper taped to a wall, rendered in meticulous detail.

There is the adventurous video work “Swarm Frequency” ($700) by Clara Wells, which follows in the tradition of Len Lye’s films featuring handdrawn dots which swarm in various shapes and groups along with a sound track, which mirrors the morphing shapes.

Another large work “The Dragon the Beast and his demented hordes” ($11,000) by Matt Hunt is a surreal work filled by monsters in a contemplation of rampant capitalism.

Several of the artists have referred to the work of other artists, with Kelly Pretty acknowledging the work of William Blake in “Drawing on Newton, Homage to Blake” ($2150). Nicki Stewart’s “Muriwai” ($790) features a portrait of Colin McCahon with one of his paintings and Deborah Crowe’s “Fictional Realities Turf” ($2500), which has all the baroque intensity of a Piranesi.

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