Artists colour their world despite COVID
It was like an early Christmas. One after the other couriers arrived at IHC’s national office in Wellington bearing packages of all shapes and sizes. These were works that had made it through the judges’ first selection for the IHC Art Awards 2020.
But only four of these outstanding works could win the prizes. This year’s winner is Palmerston North artist Malachi Oldridge, with a self-portrait entitled Malachi is a Māori Boy. Malachi won the People’s Choice award in 2019 with a portrait of his Nani, Kararaina Oldridge, a pencil drawing in a similar style. Malachi was inspired by two 1955 wood engravings by New Zealand artist Ernest Mervyn Taylor, Māori Boy (Rewi) and Māori Girl (Hina).
Second place went to Michael Nathan with Infinity Part 1. Michael, who works at Māpura Studios in Auckland, won first place in the 2019 Art Awards. Gary Buchanan won third prize with his work New Convention Centre of Christchurch. Gary is following the Christchurch rebuild by painting many of the new buildings.
The awards were a ‘contactless’ event thanks to COVID-19. There was no national exhibition of finalists’ work and no gala night to announce the winners. But in every other respect it was business as usual. We were determined that artists with intellectual disabilities would have the opportunity to have their talents recognised, and a means to sell their work.
In total, 279 artists pushed back against the restraints of lockdown and picked up their pens, pencils and brushes to reimagine their world and have a chance to win the prizes – $5000 for the winner, $2000 for second place and $1000 for third place and the People’s Choice award.
Online judging was done by jewellery designer and musician Boh Runga, artist Otis Frizzell and arts and culture consultant Tim Walker. The People’s Choice award winner was chosen by online voting and artworks were sold online.
Just before lockdown, IHC Art Awards Ambassador and co-founder of the WORLD fashion house Dame Denise L’Estrange-Corbet visited a number of artist studios to see work in progress. But within weeks the work had stopped, and the studios were closed.
“2020 has been the most uncertain of times for everybody the world over, and that is why it is so important for us to get back to where we were as soon as we can and start doing what we do best,” Dame Denise says.
The winning works were auctioned at Webbs Auction House on Monday 23 November, along with works donated by established New Zealand artists through the ‘WORLD Legacy Charity Project’ to raise funds for the IHC Art Awards. The remaining artworks selected by judges were auctioned on Trade Me.
Photo: Photographer Mark Coote goes to work to get the best images of artworks for the judges. The art will be sold online.
This story was published in Strong Voices. The magazine is posted free to all IHC members.
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