Bay of Plenty artist Kelcy Taratoa has been selected as the head judge for the prestigious Parkin Drawing Prize, now into its sixth year. The winner will be announced on 16 July and a free exhibition showcasing the short-listed works will run between 17 July – 19 August 2018 at the New Zealand Academy of Fine Arts in Wellington.

Kelcy Taratoa

How did you get involved as a judge in the Parkin Drawing Prize? 

My father and uncles were school friends with founder, Chris Parkin, in Otaki. And I was the artist in residence at Scots College in Wellington which Chris was a primary patron of. All artists stayed at The Museum Art Hotel which he owned. During my stay I met Chris, and we stayed in contact, and I have been on the advisory panel for the last couple of years.  

What did you enjoy most about being involved in the drawing award?

Walking into the New Zealand Academy of Fine Arts on opening night and experiencing the works in the flesh for the first time – it is very exhilarating – witnessing the public response is very insightful and humbling. Selecting the works does not come without its challenges. Finalists are selected by viewing images submitted electronically. Whilst a photograph captures a great deal of information, it doesn’t reveal everything: layers of surface qualities and characteristics, and scale of course, are good examples. Panel judges must draw upon their experience and use their imagination to fill in what is not immediate and detectable from the photograph alone. I enjoyed the challenge, and I have to admit to being a little anxious, anticipating public reaction to our selections. 

What will you be looking for, as a judge?

The guidelines say that the prize was established to “seek to capture the spirit of invention, risk and discovery.” I am looking for a work that captivates me and suspends me in its relevance, its voice, its distinction and pure spectacle. 

What are you up to at the moment? Do you have any upcoming shows?

I am currently working on a project with Dr Warren Feeney (who has also been an advisory panel member), on a book and touring survey exhibiton. On the 22 June, I am having my first solo exhibtion in Mount Maunganui, Tauranga, at Compose Gallery. I am very excited about this finally happening, as Tauranga Moana is my tribal region. Tauranga is part of the ‘Golden Triangle’ consisiting of Auckland, Tauranga and Hamilion. Tauranga is experiencing ecomonic and population growth and so it is timely to have a show here.   

Kelcy TaratoaWhat do you enjoy the most about working and living in the Bay of Plenty?

The Bay of Plenty is a stunning region. The climate encourages a diversity of outdoor activity. We are spoilt with options. I climb The Mount weekly, and spend time at the beach surfing, swimming, walking and thinking. It has great energy and vivid colour, perfect for creatives.

What inspires your art?

Increasingly, our interaction within our world is experienced virtually. I see my current work as navigating a way through such challenges in a digital era. In part it is an attempt to depict WHAT humanity must navigate as a consequence of ignorance and naivety.

Kelcy TaratoaWhat advice would you give to an up and coming artist?

Ahhh…this is an easy question to answer. Be teachable and a life long learner. Work hard and consistently in the studio. Learn to distinguish your voice from all other voices. Believe in your creative genius and respect it and nurture it.