Four artists have been announced by Auckland Art Gallery as the nominees for this year's Walters Prize.

The four artworks nominated were Bad Visual Systems created by Ruth Buchanan, The Making of Mississippi Grind 2017 by Jacqueline Fraser, Whol Why Wurld by Jess Johnson and Simon Ward, and Fāgogo by Pati Solomona Tyrell.

The Walters Prize is for the most outstanding contribution made to contemporary art in New Zealand by an artist in the two-year period preceding the prize.

Jess Johnson and Simon Ward's Whol Why Wurld. Photo / Auckland Art Gallery
Jess Johnson and Simon Ward's Whol Why Wurld. Photo / Auckland Art Gallery

It was established in 2002 to make contemporary art a more widely recognised, debated and prominent feature of the country's cultural life.


The artworks were selected by an independent jury who tabled over 30 projects by NZ artists.

"The selection represents our genuine attempt to work across multiple fronts within a continually shifting contemporary art scene – by consolidating and considering practitioners who have, within their distinctive artistic practices, made outstanding contributions to the contemporary art field," the jury statement said.

"Our selection includes work that expands ideas of sex, gender and ritual; installations exploring the legacies of feminism; and an immersive work that embraces and pushes technologies of moving image and animation."

Walters Prize exhibition curator and Auckland Art Gallery curator of contemporary art Natasha Conland said the Walters Prize exhibition offers all audiences a chance to see a great variety of artworks brought together in a dynamic viewing environment.

"Through the prize, we find ourselves confronted by the strength of New Zealand art, its diversity and ability to face our current moment with fresh visual exchange."

An international judge will select the winning work and award the $50,000 prize at the Walters Prize Gala Dinner in November.

Previous winners include Francis Upritchard, Peter Robinson and Shannon Te Ao.