Monday 13 March 2023

Auckland Art Gallery Toi o Tāmaki is delighted to announce the nominees for the upcoming Walters Prize 2024.

Established in 2002, the Walters Prize was conceived as a platform to showcase excellence in the visual arts. This year, the Gallery has adopted a new triennial format for the Walters Prize to emphasise the development of new works for the exhibition. The 11th Walters Prize exhibition is scheduled to be presented in winter 2024 and will be awarded in late 2024.

Four shortlisted artists have been selected by an independent jury (see below) to represent the most outstanding contribution to contemporary New Zealand art in the preceding two-year period.

The nominated artists are:

  • Juliet Carpenter (born 1990, Waipukurau) lives and works in Frankfurt, Germany. Carpenter was nominated for recent work exhibited internationally, including her film installation EGOLANE, 2022, exhibited at Städelschule Rundgang.
  • Owen Connors (born 1992, Greymouth) lives and works in Tāmaki Makaurau Auckland. Connors was nominated for recent exhibitions including your cart and plow over the bones of the dead (2022) and Incubations (2021), both at Robert Heald Gallery.
  • Brett Graham (born 1967, Tāmaki Makaurau, Ngāti Korokī Kahukura, Tainui) lives and works in Tāmaki Makaurau Auckland. Graham was nominated for the exhibition Tai Moana Tai Tangata, first exhibited at Govett-Brewster Art Gallery (2020–2021) and subsequently with new configurations at City Gallery Wellington (2021) and Christchurch Art Gallery (2022).
  • Ana Iti (born 1989, Blenheim, Te Rarawa) lives and works in Hawkes Bay. Iti was nominated for recent video and sculptural installations including The woman whose back was a whetstone, exhibited in Swallowing Geography at Govett-Brewster Art Gallery (2021), Roharoha exhibited at Gus Fisher Gallery (2022), and I must shroud myself in stinging nettle exhibited at City Gallery Wellington (2022).

Auckland Art Gallery Director Kirsten Lacy says ‘the Walters Prize has proudly established itself as a prominent accolade internationally and an important milestone for contemporary artists in Aotearoa. It is a longstanding award and one of the Gallery’s flagship exhibitions.’

‘The new triennial format gives us an opportunity to amplify the Walters Prize in our exhibition programme by giving it more prominence in our main galleries, as well as supporting the creation of new works.’

Auckland Art Gallery’s Senior Curator, Global Contemporary Art, Natasha Conland, says ‘the refreshed format for the Walters Prize recognises an artist’s overall recent contribution to contemporary art, rather than one single work and positions the prize exhibition in the heart of the Gallery’s activity. We’re excited to work with a fantastic new group of nominees who have demonstrated outstanding achievements in their practice from a range of points in their careers and interests.’

Conland will partner with Ane Tonga, the Gallery’s Curator, Pacific Art to curate the 2024 Walters Prize exhibition.

The Walters Prize founding benefactors and principal donors are Erika and Robin Congreve, Dame Jenny Gibbs. Major donors are Dayle, Lady Mace, and Chris and Charlotte Swasbrook.

The 2024 Walters Prize jury members are:

  • Robert Leonard, director, Institute of Modern Art, Brisbane
  • Tendai Mutambu, independent curator and writer, Auckland
  • Melanie Oliver, curator of contemporary art, Christchurch Art Gallery Te Puna o Waiwhetū
  • Hanahiva Rose, assistant curator at Museum of New Zealand Te Papa Tongarewa and PhD candidate, Wellington

The Walters Prize 2024 jury statement:

‘We selected the four finalists for the 11th Walters Prize for projects they presented in 2020–22, a time of
unsettled exhibition opportunities, disrupted by Covid lockdowns and restrictions on travel. Despite this,
the artists presented extraordinary works that address the cultural, social, and political conditions of our
time, and ask us to pay careful attention to the way histories are made, told, and maintained. Our selection
looks to both senior and early-career artists to find new commentaries on issues of art and culture today.
Their diverse projects were the culmination of formal, material and conceptual experimentation, with each
artist making an outstanding contribution to contemporary art in Aotearoa.’

Juliet Carpenter

Recently graduated from Frankfurt’s Städelschule, Juliet Carpenter has developed a striking movingimage
practice. Her innovative film installation EGOLANE, 2022 is intimate and disorienting. The work
follows a woman travelling alone in a driverless car, charting her journey through despair, ecstasy,
contemplation, and boredom, and reflecting on the contingency of death, desire and the limits of control.
In focusing on physiological states, it challenges the conventions of narrative filmmaking.

Owen Connors

For their recent exhibitions – including your cart and plow over the bones of the dead (2022) and
Incubations (2021) at Robert Heald Gallery – Owen Connors used the traditional medium of eggtempera
painting. In finely detailed paintings, with their often elaborately carved wooden frames, Connors
interweaves artistic and historical references to question the associations that images, materials, and
stories carry – offering a transformative queer spin on ideas of creation and legacy.

Brett Graham

Brett Graham (Ngāti Korokī Kahukura, Tainui), whose career spans over thirty years, has been nominated
for a sequence of exhibitions first shown at Govett-Brewster Art Gallery in 2020. The exhibition Tai Moana
Tai Tangata
revisits the intertwined histories of Tainui and Taranaki iwi – former adversaries who formed
an alliance to resist colonisation during the New Zealand Wars. The project addressed the complex
narratives surrounding the tribes’ relationship, through imposing, yet intricately detailed, architecturally
scaled sculptures and evocative videos.

Ana Iti

Ana Iti’s (Te Rarawa) recent installations – The woman whose back was a whetstone (Govett-Brewster Art Gallery, 2021), Roharoha (Gus Fisher Gallery, 2022), and I must shroud myself in stinging nettle (City Gallery Wellington, 2022) – process ideas of language, remembrance, and history-making through powerfully evocative forms. With a careful, determined focus on how histories are presented and communicated, Iti’s work encourages a subjective and poetic engagement with materials, landscapes and texts, demonstrating their ability to negotiate lives, narratives and meanings in different ways.