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Mesmerising video wins $20,000 National Contemporary Art Award

17 September 2021

Photo caption: Judge Karl Chitham (Ngaa Puhi, Te Uriroroi) The Dowse Art Museum Director, with the winning work “Palmolive” by Caryline Boreham at Waikato Museum Te Whare Taonga o Waikato.

Auckland-based artist Caryline Boreham has won the prestigious $20,000 National Contemporary Art Award for 2021 for a mesmerising video work entitled Palmolive.

Announcing the award at Hamilton’s Waikato Museum today, judge Karl Chitham (Ngaa Puhi, Te Uriroroi) said, “This work is captivating.”

“The title conjures up notions of cleanliness, sanitisation and order – making our surroundings safe and keeping our loved ones healthy.

“The artist has chosen to document these everyday tasks in a way that makes them feel simultaneously magical, meditative and unrelenting.”

The work was chosen through a blind-judging process from 38 finalists, all of which are now on display at Waikato Museum Te Whare Taonga o Waikato until 28 November.

Chitham, who is Director of The Dowse Art Museum in Lower Hutt, said that selecting prize-winners from the finalists was a difficult decision.

“The quality of works here is incredibly high. This is the most difficult judging process I’ve been through.”

Celebrating its 21st birthday this year following cancellation in 2020 due to the Covid-19 pandemic outbreak, the Award attracted entries from around New Zealand and overseas. Tompkins Wake, one of New Zealand’s leading law firms, and nationally-renowned architects Chow:Hill, have been its co-sponsors since 2014 and 2015 respectively.

The win came as a shock to Boreham who is currently unable to visit the exhibition due to the on-going Level 4 lockdown in Auckland.

“I’m stunned. This is such a surprise!” said Boreham via phone, “I’m actually speechless.”

In her artist’s statement submitted with the work, Boreham stated, “Home is the setting for the most intimate, celebratory, ritualistic and also unresolved, mundane and repetitive parts of our lives. Palmolive is a recreation of one of these moments.”

The awards announced today were:

  • 2021 National Contemporary Art Award for $20,000 co-sponsored by Tompkins Wake and Chow:Hill:
    Caryline Boreham for Palmolive, single channel video.
  • 2021 Runner-up and winner of the $5,000 Runner Up Award sponsored by Hugo Charitable Trust:
    Brett a’Court for Rua Kēnana and Pinepine Te Rika’s descent from Mt Maungapōhatu, oil on prepared woollen blanket with canvas support.
  • 2021 Friends of Waikato Museum $1,000 Merit Award winner:
    D Milton Browne for Gaze, black and white photograph.
  • 2021 Random Art Group $1,000 Merit Award winner:
    John Guy Johnston for The Art of Value, acrylic paint and wax pastel on unstretched pinstripe suit material, bulldog clips.

The Campbell Smith Memorial People’s Choice Award, sponsored by the family of the late Campbell Smith, will be presented to the winner of the most votes by the visiting public just before the Award exhibition closes in November.

The finalists for the 2021 National Contemporary Art Award are:

  • Rua Kēnana and Pinepine Te Rika's descent from Mt. Maungapōhatu – Brett a'Court, Northland (Runner up, 2021 National Contemporary Art Award)
  • Nexus – Denise Batchelor, Northland
  • Palmolive – Caryline Boreham, Auckland (Winner, 2021 National Contemporary Art Award)
  • The Killing Chain – Brit Bunkley, Whanganui
  • Fruit Bowl IIII - Oliver Cain, Auckland
  • Equanimity (2021) – Trish Campbell, Auckland
  • Untitled – Alex Chalmers, Whangārei
  • Aletheia – Julia Christey, Hamilton
  • Concrete 2 – Ruth Cleland, Auckland
  • Joy Mountain - Natasha Cousens, Tauranga
  • Maelstrom - David Cowlard, Auckland
  • 2021 – Antony Densham, Auckland
  • lab 20-10AB – Leslie Falls, Hastings
  • Hikoi rā- walk there – Fraser Findlay, Whanganui
  • ART – Stuart Forsyth, Wellington
  • No Meat And All Vege – Jacquelyn Greenbank, Christchurch
  • The genius loci of the chapel – Natalie Guy, Auckland
  • Solv No. 4 – Levi Hawken, Auckland
  • The Art of Value – John Guy Johnston, Auckland (Merit Award, 2021 National Contemporary Art Award)
  • Anatomy of a Stream – Paul V Johnston, Auckland
  • Sol 956 – Yoon Tae Kim, Auckland
  • Hope is the Thing with Feathers 2 – Rozana Lee, Auckland
  • Flagstaff Hill, April 2021 – Thomas Lord, Dunedin
  • The Incredible Lightness Of Being – Kaye McGarva, Havelock North
  • Gaze – D Milton Browne, Dunedin (Merit Award, 2021 National Contemporary Art Award)
  • La teu le vā – Leanne Morrison, Hastings
  • Late Model Mazda – Mark Purdom, Hamilton
  • Solo Exercise – Naomi Roche, Hamilton
  • Malaga – Raymond Sagapolutele, Auckland
  • Has It Ever Been More Tense Than Now: The Post Covid Apocalypse – Kyle Sattler, Tauranga
  • rorrim lartnec – Mark Soltero, Lyttelton
  • Companion Pieces – Natalie Tozer, Auckland
  • The Misunderstanding – May Trubuhovich, Auckland
  • Diasporas Children – Telly Tuita, Wellington
  • Blue Hours – Haihui Wang, Auckland
  • Wishing well – Cora-Allan Wickliffe, Auckland
  • Progress – Alex Wilkinson and Ben Wilson, Kihikihi
  • AhoTāniko (connection) – Sheree Willman, Wellington

The exhibition runs until 28 November and all artworks are available for sale.