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National Contemporary Art Award extended and expanded

10 November 2021

Pictured left to right: Co-sponsors Brian Squair of Chow:Hill and Jon Calder of Tompkins Wake discuss the winning work "Palmolive" by Caryline Boreham with 2021 judge Karl Chitham (Ngaa Puhi, Te Uriroroi) The Dowse Art Museum Director.

The 2021 National Contemporary Art Award at Hamilton’s Waikato Museum has been extended and expanded to make the most of current Covid-19 Alert Levels.

The exhibition is now open until 20 February 2022, with a ‘virtual tour’ also available online and the People’s Choice Award open for voting on Facebook.

Informed of the new closing date, 2021 guest judge Karl Chitham (Ngaa Puhi, Te Uriroroi) said, “This is exciting news – the more people who can see this exhibition the better. ”

I was fortunate to be able to visit earlier in the year between lockdowns and do the blind judging in person, ” says Chitham, who is Director of The Dowse Art Museum in Lower Hutt.

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

Celebrating its 21st birthday this year, the National Contemporary Art Award has sought following its cancellation in 2020 due to the Covid-19 pandemic outbreak. Filmed footage of every artwork in the exhibition has been made into a video that recreates the experience of wandering through the gallery. The virtual tour is an engaging addition to the Award experience and will ‘premiere’ on Waikato Museum’s YouTube channel on Friday 12 November 2021.

Another first this year is the introduction of online voting. The Campbell Smith Memorial People’s Choice Award, sponsored by the family of the late Campbell Smith, is traditionally presented to the winner of the most votes from paper ballots cast by the visiting public.

For 2021, in addition to paper-based voting in the gallery, Facebook users will also be able to cast their vote. Even if they can’t see the exhibition in person, people can have their say by viewing the album of finalists on Waikato Museum’s Facebook page and liking their favourite artworks. Voting for the People’s Choice Award will close on Tuesday 1 February 2022.

Earlier this year Auckland-based artist Caryline Boreham was announced as the winner of the prestigious $20,000 National Contemporary Art Award for 2021 for her mesmerising video work entitled Palmolive.

A blind-judging process was used to choose the winning work from a pool of 38 finalists, all of which are now on display until 20 February 2022.

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.