An etched and engraved aluminium artwork that references an aerial view of Canterbury has been chosen as the winning piece for this year's Parkin Drawing Prize.

The annual $20,000 prize was last year awarded to Wellington artist Kirsty Lillico's State Block, an artfully arranged draping of cut-up carpet, which this year's head judge Kelcy Taratoa called controversial and provocative.

This year's winner, Long Echo by Lower Hutt artist Jacqui Colley, might be slightly more conventional, but still deviates from the traditional idea of what a drawing is.

Jacqui Colley splashed acid over the aluminium and used black oil pigment while etching and engraving her piece. Photo / Supplied
Jacqui Colley splashed acid over the aluminium and used black oil pigment while etching and engraving her piece. Photo / Supplied

"I am truly blown away to be the recipient of the 2018 Parkin Drawing Prize," said Colley, who is currently in South Africa researching a new project.

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"For this work I needed to work on an industrial surface, aluminium – a surface that reflects and is hard and at a scale that's immersive and dominates. I threw acid on the surface to create my initial marks followed by drawing with engraving tools, gouging the metal," Colley said.

"Long Echo loosely references aerial views of Canterbury, observing shapes; rivers which flow from the mountains to the sea, the great lakes and the few remaining wetlands. With intersecting grids, circles and lines I have mimicked the colonisation of the now mechanised land.

'It also references early Māori drawings on the walls of the limestone cliffs at Takiroa near the Waitaki River. We visited these drawings. I contemplated the information they shared for Māori of that time; of warnings, beliefs and the locations of provisions. This inspired me to make my own indelible marks, a recording of the evisceration of nature."

Kirsty Lillico's
Kirsty Lillico's "State Block" won the $20,000 prize last year. Photo / Supplied
Matthew Griffin's charcoal drawing of a woman was Chris Parkin's (pictured) first pick. Photo / Melissa Nightingale
Matthew Griffin's charcoal drawing of a woman was Chris Parkin's (pictured) first pick. Photo / Melissa Nightingale

The 2.4m by 1.2m drawing was announced the winner at the New Zealand Academy of Fine Arts this evening.

Taratoa said Colley's work had all the elements and principles of design and art.

In judging, he expected one work to distinguish itself from the others, and that was what happened with Long Echo.

"From the moment I saw it I was drawn to it, and actually worked really hard to ignore it to allow the other works to have a moment with me and resonate with me. Even in those moments where I was investigating the other works I was drawn back to Jacqui's Long Echo and wanting to spend time with it.

A small but
A small but "phenomenally detailed" drawing of Wellington by Solyi Kim was another one of Chris Parkin's favourites. Photo / Melissa Nightingale

"There's so much in there to discover, from the faintest hairline mark to the widest, boldest, blackest mark, to these shapes that are kind of like icons of some type that are repeated like a machine has done it. I think that's really interesting, this integration of the human hand and the machine."

There was a "diverse range of approaches to drawing" in the 462 other entries in the competition this year.

The panel of judges has worked to pick out 72 finalists, and from those the winner and 10 highly commended works.

This years works "really move outside what people may be comfortable with," Taratoa said.

Chris Parkin (left) and Kelcy Taratoa stand with the winning artwork for this year's Parkin Drawing Prize. Photo / Melissa Nightingale
Chris Parkin (left) and Kelcy Taratoa stand with the winning artwork for this year's Parkin Drawing Prize. Photo / Melissa Nightingale

Last year's winning piece was controversial, he said, "but that's the territory and the space in which artists work in".

"We're there to challenge people's thinking, people's perceptions, people's notions. Could it be this? Would you allow it to be included? Our culture is such that we want to question it, and you'll see that here."

Art patron and philanthropist Chris Parkin said he was always surprised by the winner of the competition.

His initial pick was a large portrait by artist Matthew Griffin called Hidden, which he labelled "an absolute masterpiece of drawing".

"But I didn't expect it to win the prize because I've learned that at least within the artistic community the sort of whole boundary of what we would term drawing is actually much wider than I would have probably originally thought.

"I'm still seeing innovation and difference, and every year there's something new."