On Friday night Vicente Todoli (former director of the Tate Modern) will announce the winner of this year's Walters Prize.
In a comparatively short time the Walters Prize has become one of the country's most prized art awards. Founding benefactors Erika and Robin Congreve and Dame Jenny Gibbs established the Walters Prize with the Auckland Art Gallery in 2002, positioning themselves as patrons with ideas about how to support artists, not just art gallery benefactors with deep pockets. They were joined in 2006 by art patron Dayle Mace whose contributions ensure that each of the shortlisted contenders receives a finalists prize.
Named after one of New Zealand's greatest artists (Gordon Walters), the Prize is awarded every two years to an artist who has made an outstanding contribution to contemporary visual art in New Zealand. A jury of New Zealand curators and critics select four finalists who present their work in an exhibition at the Auckland Art Gallery. On the basis of this presentation an international judge selects the winning artist. The previous judges have been Harald Szeeman (2002), Robert Storr (2004), Carloyn Christov-Bakargiev (2006) and Catherine David (2008). And the Prize has gone to Yvonne Todd, et al., Francis Uprichard and Peter Robinson.
In addition to the $50,000 prize the winner receives an all-expenses-paid trip to New York to exhibit their work in the exhibition space at Saatchi & Saatchi's world headquarters, and thanks to Dayle Mace each of the finalists receives $5,000.
Image: Marti Friedlander's photograph of Gordon Walters