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Mesmerising video wins $20,000 National Contemporary Art Award

Fuseworks Media
Fuseworks Media

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 a 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 ongoing Alert 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 Hugo Charitable Trust Award:

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 - Jacquely 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

Details of the exhibition, which runs until 28 November, are available on the Waikato Museum website All artworks in the exhibition are available for sale.

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