Disabled artists welcomed to the heart of the art scene
Disabled artists came out of lockdown and into the heart of the New Zealand art scene – selling more art than ever before.
Thanks to a brainwave of IHC Art Awards Ambassador Dame Denise L’Estrange Corbet, the three top works in the 2020 IHC Art Awards were auctioned live at Webb’s art auctioneers in Auckland, in association with a WORLD Legacy Charity Project event called Artists 4 Artists.
Dame Denise approached 13 contemporary artists to donate works to be sold for the benefit of artists with disabilities. Renowned New Zealand artists Billy Apple, Judy Darragh, Dick Frizzell, Mike Weston and Otis Frizzell, Max Gimblett, Bill Hammond, Paul Hartigan, Gavin Hurley, Gregor Kregar, Judy Millar, John Reynolds, Greer Twiss and Pamela Wolfe all got involved. Their artworks raised nearly $51,000, all of which goes towards the IHC Art Awards.
Dame Denise says that when all the art studios had to close when the country went into lockdown, she realised there would be no opportunity to access the wonderful works that are usually submitted and sold. She wanted to find another way of raising funds for the artists.
“The event way exceeded what I had hoped for,” she says. “Webb’s came on board and agreed to hold the event at their premises and auction the works on the last big art auction night of the year, which was just so tremendous, as their reputation put us on the map in terms of art; it gave the event enormous kudos.
“I am so grateful to all those involved – the artists who donated works, Webb’s, and especially the public who buy the works.”
The works of the three winners of the IHC Art Awards were sold first, ahead of the Artists 4 Artists auction. Palmerston North student Malachi Oldridge, who won the $5000 first prize with his self-portrait Malachi is a Māori Boy, sold his work for $1057. Michael Nathan won $2000 for his work Infinity Part 1. It sold for $1233. Gary Buchanan won $1000 for his work New Convention Centre of Christchurch. It sold for $470.
Most of the remaining entries in the Art Awards were sold on Trade Me. Sixty-nine of the top 89 artworks entered in the IHC Art Awards 2020 were sold to an online public audience. “We sold a lot more artworks than we would normally,” says IHC Art Awards Event Manager Danette Wilson. “We always sell the 30 finalists’ and winners’ artworks at the gala event, but we don’t sell that many at the national exhibition. So Trade Me definitely worked better. Some prices were high, some just over reserve or just met reserve.”
During lockdown the artists couldn’t work in their studios. Artworks that they planned to enter were not finished and no-one knew when they would be. But behind the scenes IHC Art Awards organisers were working on a plan to make sure the event went ahead in some form.
“Some of the artists had been working on their artworks for months, so it would have been a great disappointment not to have given people a competition,” Danette says.
In 2019, 384 artists entered the national competition. But the impact of COVID-19 had her worried. “When we reached 279, it was a huge sigh of relief and we were really happy with that number,” she says.
Caption: IHC Art Awards winner Malachi Oldridge, with his self-portrait Malachi is a Māori Boy, at Webb’s auctioneers.