13 June 2024

Emma wins $20,000 National Contemporary Award for ‘Red Handed’

A “majestically layered” assemblage art work titled Red Handed by multimedia artist, Emma Hercus has won the prestigious $20,000 National Contemporary Art Award 2022 at Hamilton’s Waikato Museum Te Whare Taonga O Waikato.

The winning work Red Handed (acrylic paint and charcoal on MDF board with collage), was selected by Reuben Paterson, one of the country’s top contemporary artists, and judge for these Awards from 34 finalists and more than 300 entries received from around New Zealand and overseas.

Winning entry: “Red Hands’

Emma Hercus whose “dream has been to paint naive, semi-abstract figurative artworks in juicy, thick layers of brushy acrylics and oils”, is currently settled in Plimmerton, north of Wellington.

Paterson said the experimental process used by Hercus to create Red handed resulted in a work that exists as “a celebration of adversity…in the thoughtful process of the artist’s ritual of soaking linen.”

“My reading begins in the thoughtful process of the artist’s ritual of soaking linen…What the artist reveals as this figure is peeled back from the MDF board is a figure rising up, where the violent scars and pitted surfaces are celebrated in confetti colours, and darkness is now set into the past, as a painted black background. These hands are no longer at surrender, but raise in triumphant celebration, masked as a hero, not a villain, from an uprising,” Reuben Paterson said after the unveiling on Friday evening.

“Reuben Paterson has selected an extraordinary piece from a body of work that represents the talent, depth, creativity and bravery of our contemporary arts sector” said Liz Cotton, Director of Museum and Arts, Waikato Museum while congratulating award winners and finalists.

Runner Up and winner of the $5,000 Hugo Charitable Trust Award is Raukura Turei for He Tukuna V (onepū, oil and pigment on linen).

Tompkins Wake, one of New Zealand’s leading law firms, and nationally-renowned architects Chow:Hill have been sponsors of the top prize since 2014 and 2015 respectively.

All of the finalist works are now on display in a free exhibition at Waikato Museum Te Whare Taonga o Waikato until 13 November.

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