Aotearoa New Zealand’s most prestigious contemporary art prize exhibition, The Walters Prize 2024, opens at Auckland Art Gallery Toi o Tāmaki on Saturday 6 July. Established in 2002, the Prize was conceived as a platform to showcase excellence in the visual arts.

As part of the prize, the Gallery presents an exhibition by four artists who have been nominated for their outstanding contribution to contemporary art in Aotearoa New Zealand by an independent jury. The Walters Prize 2024 features the work of finalists Juliet Carpenter, Owen Connors, Brett Graham and Ana Iti and is the first iteration of the award in its new triennial format.

Tātaki Auckland Unlimited Director of Auckland Art Gallery Kirsten Lacy says “the Walters Prize is the country’s most significant art award, showcasing the best of contemporary New Zealand art on a local and international stage. Many of the former finalists have gone on to accomplish globally-recognised success, such as Mataaho Collective’s Golden Lion at this year’s Venice Biennale.” 

Exhibition curators Cameron Ah-Loo Matamua and Natasha Conland have worked with the artists on their new exhibitions for 2024, commenting “This is a beautiful exhibition by four exceptional New Zealand artists, its sculptural, emotional, and haunted by the place of history in our contemporary life.”

Juliet Carpenter will present a reimagination of her nominated work, EGOLANE. The film installation challenges the conventions of narrative filmmaking through a focus on psychological states, and explores the relationship between new technology and human connection. EGOLANE was first exhibited at Städelschule Rundgang, Frankfurt am Main.

Owen Connors will exhibit a new work that explores altarpiece painting. In Land of doubts & shadows (2024) Connors deconstructs the traditional three-part structure of historical Western altarpiece painting into multiple panels, employing the ancient medium of egg tempera to reinterpret lost mystic and Queer symbology. Connors was nominated for your cart and plow over the bones of the dead (2022) and Incubations (2021), both at Robert Heald Gallery, Wellington.

Brett Graham (Ngāti Korokī Kahukura, Tainui) was nominated for his major exhibition Tai Moana Tai Tangata, first presented at Govett-Brewster Art Gallery (2020–2021). Based on work in Tai Moana Tai Tangata, Graham has developed Ka Wheke (2024), a large carved sculpture which reexamines the civic monuments and historical legacy of colonial aggression in The Waikato War of 1863-64.

Ana Iti (Te Rarawa) will exhibit a new sculpture and sound installation. A resilient heart like the manawa (2024) reimagines the structure and surroundings of Rāwene wharf in the Hokianga harbour, considering the complex relationships between people, whenua (land) and the natural world. Iti was nominated for The woman whose back was a whetstone (2021) and I must shroud myself in stinging nettle (2022) exhibited at Govett-Brewster Art Gallery (2021) and City Gallery Wellington (2022) respectively.

Artists talk

On Saturday 6 July 2024 2–3pm, the Gallery will be hosting The Walters Prize 2024 finalists for a kōrero with some members of this year’s Prize jury. The event is free, but registrations through the Gallery’s website are essential.

The Walters Prize 2024 will be presented with another New Zealand contemporary exhibition to be announced next week.

The winner of The Walters Prize 2024 will be announced by an esteemed international judge at a private event in October. The Walters Prize founding benefactors and principal donors are Erika and Robin Congreve, Dame Jenny Gibbs. Major donors are Dayle Mace, and Chris and Charlotte Swasbrook.

Exhibition details: 
The Walters Prize 2024 


Saturday 6 July–20 October 2024 
10am–5pm daily 

Auckland Art Gallery Toi o Tāmaki 
Cnr Kitchener and Wellesley Streets 
Tāmaki Makaurau Auckland