In 2017, artist Imogen Taylor described receiving the McCahon House residency as the biggest opportunity of her career.

Doubtless, it's an accolade Taylor will always be grateful for but, last night, she topped that achievement when she was named the paramount award winner of the 2018 Wallace Art Award.

Now in their 27th year, the awards are the richest in New Zealand and have helped prominent artists such as Bill Hammond, Fatu Feu'u, Elizabeth Thompson, Gregor Kregar, Sara Hughes, Judy Millar and André Hemer further their careers. Joining the list of winners, Taylor receives a six month residency at the International Studio and Curatorial Program in New York.

Taylor is the daughter of journalist and former ACT politician Deborah Coddington and publisher Alister Taylor.

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Judges Linda Tyler, Mark Braunias and Joyce Campbell described her 2018 acrylic on hessian painting, Refusal to Yield, as combining references to art movements Bauhaus, Cubism and Modernism with assured handling of colour and composition. They said it made for a bold, memorable and deeply informed painting.

Taylor's work was chosen from 515 entries including painting, sculpture, audio-visual, print, photography, drawing and interdisciplinary work. Of those, 83 were selected as finalists for the Award Winners and Travelling Finalists exhibition which will head for the first time to the South Island after viewing in Auckland and Porirua.

As well as offering artists monetary prizes and chances to broaden their experience, the awards are also an essential part of the Wallace Art Trust Collection's growth with a selection of winning work added to its 9000-strong holdings.

Imogen Taylor's Refusal to Yield has won the Whangarei-born artist the Paramount Award at the 2018 Wallace Art Awards.
Imogen Taylor's Refusal to Yield has won the Whangarei-born artist the Paramount Award at the 2018 Wallace Art Awards.

Meanwhile, recently released official figures from the Auckland Art Fair show collectors and enthusiasts were quick to add to their own collections during this year's fair.

Visitor numbers increased 10 per cent to 10,150 and around $7.5 million worth of art was sold at the four-day May event. That's more than double the amount spent at the 2016 fair and for participating galleries equals, on average, total sales of $141,616.

Co-director Stephanie Post says the fair will now run every year following requests from galleries, particularly international ones, who see it as an important way to keep in touch with New Zealand audiences and build awareness of their artists.

While the 45 galleries who participated this year were mainly New Zealand ones, 12 came from Australia and one each from Japan, Indonesia, Singapore, China, the Cook Islands and Chile.

Other 2018 Wallace Art Award winners are:

Kaipara Wallace Arts Trust Award
Peata Larkin, They Don't Speak My Language (2018) Acrylic on embroidered silk.
Larkin receives a three month residency at the Altes Spital in Solothurn, Switzerland.

Wallace Arts Trust Vermont Award
Andrea du Chatenier, Untitled (Celestial Blue Cave Drawing) (2018) Porcelain, glaze and earthenware clay.
Du Chatenier receives a three month residency at the Vermont Studio Centre, USA.

Fulbright Wallace Arts Trust Award
Emma Fitts, Unknown Cloak (2018) Hand-dyed woollen underlay.
Fitts receives a ten week residency at the Headlands Center for the Arts in San Francisco, USA.

British School at Rome Wallace New Zealand Residence Award
Lucy Meyle, Duck and Snail Ramps (2018) Plywood, paint and screws.
Lucy Meyle receives a three month residency at the British School at Rome in Rome, Italy.

Martin Tate Wallace Artist Residency Award
Richard Maloy, Attempt 14 (2014) Unique colour photograph.
Richard Maloy receives a three month residency in Vladivostok, Russia.

First Runner-up Award
Brett Graham, 90 00' S 00 00' E (2018) Oak
Graham receives $2500.

Second Runner-up Award
Yvonne Shaw, The Residual No. 8 (2017) Pigmented inkjet print
Shaw receives $2500.

Jury Award
Paul McLachlan, Blue Lion (2018) Rubber, merino, mohair, linen, acrylic and polyester yarns.
This prize is non-monetary.

The People's Choice Award of $750 is announced at the end of the Award Winners
and Travelling Finalists exhibition.

Lowdown:
What: The Wallace Art Award Winners and Travelling Finalists exhibition
Where & when: Pah Homestead, TSB Wallace Arts Centre, September 4 — November 4 before touring to Porirua, Nelson, Christchurch and Wallace Gallery, Morrinsville