Tawhai Rickard wins the National Contemporary Art Award

13 August 2023

Article: Libby Kirkby-McLeod for RNZ

Tawhai Rickard's (Ngaati Uepohatu, Ngaati Porou) work, along with the other finalists, is on display at Waikato Museum until November.

The winning work was selected by highly-respected arts curator Melanie Oliver, awarding Rickard $20,000.

"Rickard's work Scenes from a Victorian Restaurant invites viewers to take a seat at the table, challenging us all to engage in a discussion on the bicultural foundations of Aotearoa," Oliver said.

Museum director Liz Cotton agreed, saying Rickard's installation was very striking, composed of a table and chairs and framed paintings, but also a playful work.

Waikato Museum director Liz Cotton. Photo: Supplied / Ruth Gilmour Photographer

The National Contemporary Art Award was launched in 2000 by Waikato Society of Arts and has been facilitated and hosted by Waikato Museum since 2006.

Leading New Zealand law firm Tompkins Wake is the principal sponsor and has supported the competition since 2014.

The National Contemporary Art Award was unusual compared with other art awards in that it was judged anonimously, Cotton said.

"It's a very democratic process, which is very unusual - the entire judging process is a blind judging process ... the judge has absolutely no idea who [the artists] are."

This meant the award could be won by a really well-established artist who was trying something new, or someone right at the start of their art journey, Cotton said.

The 41 finalist works are on exhibit at Waikato Museum Te Whare Taonga o Waikato until 12 November.

The public can view the finalists in the free exhibition and are able to vote in the People's Choice Award.

National Contemporary Art Award 29 July - 12 November

Image: Tawhai Rickard (Ngaati Uepohatu, Ngaati Porou) with his work titled ‘Scenes from a Victorian Restaurant’. Ruth Gilmour Photographer