Winners of 2019 Molly Morpeth Canada Award announced

John Brown has been named as the recipient of the 2019 Molly Morpeth Canaday Trust Major Award.

The $10,000 prize was awarded for Brown’s work The Battle for Tuber, a work that brings together painterly conventions, histories, iconography and landscapes in an exploration of personal heritage and belonging.

Guest Judge Dr Christopher McAuliffe chose Brown’s winning work from a pool of 78 finalists.

Summarising his response to the work, Dr McAuliffe says he always pulls off the highway to look at historical monuments.

“I’m drawn magnetically by the promise of events of great moment and the superstitious notion of being there, right on the spot where it happened,” he explains.

“The result is usually disappointing, because most of the time, a monument says more about what people want to believe than what really happened. And these days the monuments of our pasts, and especially those of the colonial era, are subject to challenge; something to be amended, corrected or simply torn down in belated shame. I see all of that - the desire, the illusion, the imperative for truth - embedded in this drily mystical painting. History doubles itself, as both tragedy and farce, in this proposed monument to a crackpot theory regarding the arrival of the sweet potato in Aotearoa/New Zealand.”

Eleven other outstanding works were also recognised with awards.

Raising of the Brazen Snake No. 1 and 2 (Diptych), by Teresa HR Lane of Auckland, received the Akel Schulte Runner-up Award ($4,000); Nice folk and pleasantries by Danae Ripley (Auckland) won the Craigs Investment Partners Youth Award ($2,500); and Seeking Connections by Lea-Anne Sheather (Whakatāne) received the Arts Whakatāne Highly Commended Award ($1,000).

With and Without by Esther Deans (Auckland), Garden by Kirsten Ferguson (Dunedin), The concealment of death by Toby George King (Auckland), Surfactant [1] by Raewyn Martyn (Wellington), Vintage Scene with Cat by Nicola McCafferty (Wellington), Tomorrow Today by Adrienne Millwood (Lower Hutt), and E-um #9 by Sena Park (Paihia) each received Merit Award prizes of $500 each. Whakatāne woman Mary Duggan’s work Fade was awarded the Local Artist Merit Award (also $500).

All of the finalist works selected for the Award exhibition can be viewed at Te Kōputu a te whanga a Toi – Whakatāne Library and Exhibition Centre, until Sunday 7 April.

Visitors are encouraged to vote for the work they think should receive the People’s Choice Merit Award ($500) before the exhibition ends.

An exciting programme of free public events also runs alongside the exhibition; all are welcome to attend.

Exhibition partners Arts Whakatāne and Whakatāne District Council wish to congratulate all winners and finalists, and acknowledge the support of sponsors and staff members who have made the 2019 MMCA – Painting and Drawing possible.

Sam Gardner