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Christchurch City Council Media Release

The Robert McDougall Art Gallery

14 August 1998



McDougall Contemporary Art Annex 28 August - 4 October 1998

"Canterbury Artists lead the way in National Art Award" Christchurch artist Colin Luxton was recently awarded the 1998 Visa Gold Art Award, for his work The Pearl Necklace (After Vermeer) - an expansive but personal charcoal sketch. This drawing and 24 other selected works have been combined to form an exciting and diverse exhibition which will travel to Auckland, Wellington and Christchurch. Luxton's The Pearl Necklace won the premier Visa Gold award of $15,000, while three other merit awards of $1,000 each were granted to Joanna Braithwaite (also from Christchurch), Julian Hooper and David Cook. In this, the first year that the exhibition has toured to the South Island, Christchurch has received tremendous success with its local talent. The Visa Gold exhibition will be shown at the McDougall Art Annex from 28 August to 4 October.

ANNOUNCEMENT OF WINNERS: Winners of this yearŐs award were announced and the exhibition opened on 10 July at the City Gallery @ the Exchange, 23 Allen Street. The judges of this year's award were curator Alexa Johnston, Sydney Morning Herald art critic John McDonald and artist John Reynolds, a former recipient of the award. The judges considered nearly 500 entries before deciding on the final 25 and, of course, the winner. -more- -2- The judges stated that Luxton's drawing "seemed to possess many qualities that are fundamental to the experience of art" and, despite the monumental scale of the work, found "a feeling of intimacy and introspection that could be called a spiritual dimension." Christchurch artist Joanna Braithwaite received a merit award for her painting The Untouchables (16), and the other merit prizes went to Hamilton photographer David Cook and Auckland painter Julian Hooper.

BACKGROUND OF THE AWARD: The Visa Gold Art Award has established itself as a prominent award within the New Zealand art scene since its foundation. It developed from an award which was intended solely for the Wellington Polytechnic, with proscribed advertising themes into a competition with a more expansive focus involving all New Zealand artists in 1991. An increase of the prize money to $15,000 for the overall winner in 1993 added to the prestige of the award and by 1996 restrictions were dissolved to encompass all two-dimensional art forms and subjects. This enabled the Visa Gold Art Award to more accurately mirror the achievements of contemporary artists. This year's award gives the finalists the opportunity to exhibit their work in three of the country's principal Art Galleries, bringing their talent to the attention of the New Zealand public and, in addition, providing the winner with the financial means to focus on his/her own artistic progress.

EXHIBITION ART STOLEN IN WELLINGTON Art works from the award selection were recently stolen while on exhibition at the City Gallery in Wellington. The works were a painting by David Morrison, half of a diptych by Russel Moses, a section of a photography triptych by Anne Noble and part of a sculpture by Peter Roche. Fortunately, these works have since been recovered, and will appear in Christchurch as part of the Visa exhibition.

The Robert McDougall Art Gallery, located in the Botanic Gardens, is the country's most visited public art gallery, featuring regularly changing exhibitions of international and New Zealand historical and contemporary art. The McDougall Contemporary Art Annex, located in the Christchuch Arts Centre, features international, national and local contemporary exhibitions. Both galleries are open daily except Christmas Day and Good Friday. Hours are 10 am. to 4.30 pm. Free daily guided tours are available on request and admission is free.


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