Māori artist wins top NZ art award

By Jessica Tyson

Credit: NZICC

Māori artist Peata Larkin has won one of the top awards at this year's Wallace Art Awards.

Larkin, of Ngāti Whakaue and Tūwharetoa, won the Kaipara Wallace Arts Trust Award for her piece They Don't Speak My Language.

Her clever use of paint and interwoven materials stood out to the judges.

“This work is delicate, intelligent and considered. Larkin's clever use of the painted medium and interweaving of materials results in a quiet yet seductive visual quality,” judges said.

They Don't Speak My Language. Source: Wallace Arts Trust

As part of her prize, Larkin receives a three-month residency at the Altes Spital in Solothurn, Switzerland.

“This residency includes a large studio apartment, access to specialist studios, workshops and exhibitions,” the Wallace Arts Trust said in a statement.

According to Larkin’s biography, her paintings are informed by Māori culture while exploring the conjunctions between painting, weaving and digital technology.

“The conceptual foundations of Larkin’s works have grown out her process and from the duality of binary relationships, such as indigenous and European, science and art, tradition and technology, male and female.

“Individual dots or mounds of colour are presented in an abstract pattern based on Māori weaving designs and so the further the viewer gets away from the surface the more the pattern coalesces.”

The Wallace Art Awards are the richest available to New Zealand artists with prizes totalling over $275,000.  As well as six residencies awarded, there are three monetary prizes and one non-monetary prize.

This year, the trust received 515 entries from which 83 were selected as finalists.  Artists submitted work in a variety of disciplines inccluding painting, sculpture, audio-visual, print, photography, drawings or interdisciplinary arts.