Wellington woman named winner of 10th Parkin Drawing Prize

Liam cuts his hair after a night of drinking from Siân Stephens. Photo / Included

A Wellington artist is overjoyed to have won the 10th Parkin Drawing Prize and says she can give back to the art community something she’s always wanted.

Siân Stephen has won the prestigious award for her work entitled Liam cuts his hair after a long night. The 26-year-old told the Herald the work was inspired by an intense emotional reaction she had to her partner’s ritual of cutting their hair while the couple was in Covid-19 isolation.

Liam decided to stay up all night playing music, and fueled by coffee and no sleep, he woke his partner to tell her he was going to cut his hair.

“I’m one of those people who just can’t handle change at all,” says Stephens.

“So he got the scissors and started cutting his hair in that beautiful sunrise light. I started taking photos, I’m not a photographer at all, but I knew I had to make something out of that moment.”

Sian and Liam next to their work.  Photo / Included
Sian and Liam next to their work. Photo / Included

Stephens has won a $25,000 prize which she wants to use to help Liam come back to her native country of Wales with her – but she will also be using it to give back to the community.

“It’s going to be nice to have an experience as an artist in my adult life and not be stressed about money for a little bit, which is going to be so delicious… I’m surrounded by a lot of wonderfully talented and creative people and for the first time in my.” life I can support their work.”

Chief judge Felicity Milburn told the Herald Stephen her work appealed to her.

“It was one that I had to keep coming back to watch again. It wasn’t a work that revealed itself immediately, it was one that raised many questions and I always wanted to come back to it for more. “

Milburn says Stephen’s decision to hide Liam’s face was interesting.

“They’re looking in the mirror, so you should be able to see the reflection, but they’re the only ones who can see it and they’re in the middle of a really dramatic moment. and I was really impressed by the way the artist managed to make a really complicated composition come alive and interesting.”

The Parkin Drawing Award was a creation of Wellington philanthropist Chris Parkin, who told the Herald that he felt one of the things missing from the New Zealand art world was a “quite significant drawing award”.

“I chose one of the contributions to present to the art world that would have lasting potential.”

He says the winning works are “acquisition awards” in addition to the $25,000 prize.

“Well, basically, I understand her,” he told the Herald, laughing.

“Some of them are on display – most of our collection is at the QT Hotel on Cable Street, but some are impractical for one reason or another, sometimes we have them in storage and sometimes they’re on loan to other people.”

Though he adds the winners to his collection, Parkin has absolutely no say over which works win the award — and he makes sure the judges are different each year.

“I’ve never been tempted to judge it myself – I don’t always agree with the judges and that’s probably a good thing – what I would choose and what the judges choose is almost always different, which gives it more artistic credibility, and By rotating judges every year, we make sure we never get stuck.

I don’t want artists to think, ‘Oh, I’m not going to go to Parkin because I know what’s winning and that’s not what I’m doing’.”

The Parkin Drawing Exhibition runs until September 11th at the New Zealand Fine Arts Academy, Queens Wharf in Wellington.

All artwork will be available for sale and for the first time all previous Parkin Prize winners will be on display among this year’s winners and finalists to celebrate the 10th anniversary of the prize.

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