Wellington artist Deanna Dowling has won the 2014 National Contemporary Art Award sponsored by Tompkins Wake Lawyers and Ebbett Audi, and hosted by Waikato Museum.
Tell Someone if Something Happens is an artwork that plays on its fragility to dare the viewer to break the rules of conduct typical to an art museum situation. A tube of plaster, part of a fluorescent bulb is supported gently on a crafted wooden shelf. Dowling teases the viewer to drop the tube in her artist’s statement: “Go on I dare you, the sound is better than glass.” Even if nobody touches the piece, it is balanced so delicately on its elegant support that we feel it may well fall.
Judge Simon Rees says the entries for this year’s award were “a pleasing admixture of attention-to-craft, beauty, conceptual éclat, devil-may-care, deep-thinking, elegance, humour, and dedication to the outright ugly (in a good way). All the stuff contemporary art is made of.”
“The work of the merit award laureates and that of the winner embody the aforementioned list of qualities – and add to it degrees of handicraft, faux naiveté, DIY and attention to tactility and materiality. All power, say I, to the handmade in 2014.”
The winner received $15,000 from the sponsors, Ebbett Audi and Tompkins Wake Lawyers.
The winning entry was selected by Rees from 53 finalists’ artworks. This year there are five merit awards. They are:
- Elsa Lye, Hamilton – The Cardinals
- Madeleine Child, Dunedin – Pretty Boys
- Natalie Guy, Auckland – Form for Interior
- Ina Johann, Christchurch – Lost Lines #2
- Frances Hansen, Auckland – A Drawing Activity
The National Contemporary Art Award exhibition is open daily from Saturday 9 August until Sunday 9 November 2014 from 10am – 4.30pm. Admission is free.
For more information and to view the online catalogue, visit www.waikatomuseum.co.nz.