Whanganui artist Christine Fowler is a fifth-time finalist in one of Aotearoa's biggest national awards.
Fowler is one of 45 finalists in the Adam Portraiture Award 2022, which offers a major prize of $20,000 and is held at the New Zealand Portrait Gallery in Wellington.
"I have always enjoyed painting portraits and being selected as a finalist for the Adam Portraiture Awards is a bit of a thrill because they receive hundreds of entries," she said.
"This year my entry is a self-portrait and it is reflective of my experiences of losing loved ones over the last four years."
Self Portrait with Bruce is an oil on stretched canvas painting that depicts the artist huddled before a wood burner stove with a cup in her hand, a steaming kettle, and her friend Julie's American bulldog keeping her company.
"Over the past four years, I have lost my father, my son who died of cancer, my husband, and my mother," said Fowler.
"It has been so devastating and exhausting and my painting depicts that sense of overwhelming loss. The steam escaping from the kettle and through the door is representative of the transient nature of life."
Bruce, she said, is in the painting because he has been a source of silent comfort during such difficult times.
Despite the sombre mood of the painting, there is brightness and hope in Fowler's red hat and jacket as she gazes away from the viewer towards something unknown.
"I'm glad I've been able to keep painting. I am very much an expressionist and it is my way of giving voice to my feelings."
Fowler said it would be fantastic to win the major Adam Award prize, although it was not her main impetus for entering her work in the competition.
"It is always a great feeling just to be a finalist and it is such good exposure for an artist to have your work on show at the New Zealand Portrait Gallery."
Fowler's painting is one of 45 final works selected from 351 entries.
Whanganui-based artist André Brönnimann was the major Adam Portraiture Award prizewinner for his painting Sisters, of subjects Te Rawanake Robinson-Coles, Inahaa Te Urutahi Waikerepuru, and Ria Wihapi-Waikerepuru in 2016.
The inaugural competition was held in 2000 and was called the National Portrait Competition. It has been known as the Adam Portraiture Award since 2002. Since 2006, the winning artworks have been acquired into the New Zealand Portrait Gallery collection.
This year glass, cotton rags, steel, and linen are just some of the interesting materials used to create painted works shortlisted for the award.
Judge Linda Tyler said the diversity of materials used was impressive.
"Compared to last year, there has been a huge upswing in the diversity of media represented in the entries. It is great to see some experimentation with the portrait format, and plenty of witty takes on the whole exercise of self-portraiture too."
Tyler is the associate professor and convener of Museums and Cultural Heritage at Auckland University. Her fellow judge this year is world-renowned New Zealand artist Karl Maughan.
The winning submission will be announced on Wednesday, May 26, and the exhibition will run at the New Zealand Portrait Gallery Te Pūkenga Whakata in Shed 11 on Wellington's waterfront from May 27 until August 14.
In addition to the major award, there is a runner-up prize of $2500 and a People's Choice Award of $2500 awarded at the end of the exhibition.