$10,000 Awarded to Four NZ Art Students

The NZ Art Show has selected four artists to receive $2,500 each in this year’s RT Nelson Emerging Artist Awards. The recipients were participants in Emergent, a special initiative in the NZ Art Show dedicated to artists studying visual art at degree and/or diploma level at a recognised tertiary art school in New Zealand, or recent graduates.

The four award recipients are:
• Sculptor Amy Donnell, abstract artist Bonco and photographer Niki Hill, graduates of Elam School of Fine Art, Auckland University; and photographer Michael Mahne Lamb, graduate of College of Creative Arts, Massey University.

In total there were 22 finalists for these awards and they all exhibited a small body of their art at the 2018 NZ Art Show held at the TSB Arena in Wellington over Queen’s Birthday weekend.

Art dealer and collector, Mal Brow, was one of the judges.
‘It’s encouraging to see New Zealand’s art schools represented by a comprehensive and well-balanced cross section of media,’ says Brow. ‘The Emergent project is a great initiative: it brings together a significant body of New Zealand’s art students together in one place, providing Kiwis a glimpse of the talent emerging from our art schools.’

Carla Russell, the show’s Executive Director is delighted at the results and sees the Emergent project as the perfect platform to encourage art students to seek significant exposure.

‘There were around 10,000 attendees to the show over the course of the weekend and  experienced some outstanding examples of emerging talent, says Russell. ‘And even though only four artists were awarded, the remaining artists are also winners in our eyes.’

Established in 2012, the awards recognise and encourage emerging artists and the role of New Zealand’s art schools. These awards are the result of the generosity of the award’s sponsor, Wellington businessman and philanthropist Richard Nelson.

The Awardees

Sculptor Amy Donnell, Elam School of Fine Art, Auckland University.

Year of graduation: 2016
Main Tutor: Michael Parekowhai



Amy is a recent graduate of Elam School of Fine Arts, a Registered Nurse and a new mother of one. She has an interest in the concept of Re-enchantment and perceptual shifts as well as the steel construction process.

‘The upper plane is another level of vision, which is rarely viewed in haste. We notice the sky when we are drawn to it by cloud formations, planes, and the stars’.

In her series “Sky Crystals” Amy’s geometric steel structures suspended from the ceiling, cause the viewer to look upwards to examine it and explore different viewing angles to see different shapes and capture their imagination. The use of cylindrical steel rods creates three-dimensional line drawings that define the space and project shadows.

The multiple ‘crystals’ make up one mass, and they reference the way clouds are made up of multiple water crystals reflecting light. Amy’s process with steel refers to a sense of growing and expanding bond by bond; joining steel rods together as a form of three-dimensional mark making, each new piece responding under her direction to the previous piece. Amy says she continues to be fascinated by forms found in nature and bringing a sense of the wonder that I see especially now being a new mother, I am learning about the wonder of how things change over time



Bonco, Elam School of Fine Art, Auckland University.

Year of graduation: 2018
Main Tutor: Simon Ingram


[full_width]Paul Nathan, aka Bonco, completed a Post Graduate Diploma in Fine Arts from Elam University of Auckland in 2017 with a focus on oil paint on canvas. His work revolves around using the idea of a game to explore concepts around the authenticity of experience and identity. He suggests that in Western civilization human society replicates a deeply entrenched consumerist value system while at the same time innately deluded about one’s own significance both personally and as a species in relation to the cosmos. His paintings have been created in the manner of a quasi-scientific experiment to probe Donald Winnicott’s theories of the “True Self” and “False Self.” Using the geometric grid as a proxy, he has embedded four letter words with his own code, words that have negative connotations that speak of human frailty. By doing this, he is attempting to transform the viewer’s experience of the work, once the titles of the paintings (the embedded words) are revealed. The aim is to create the conditions necessary to destabilise the viewer, asking them to question their own relationship to these concepts and to the work itself.[/full_width]


Niki Hill – MFA, BFA (Hons), Elam School of Fine Art, Auckland University.

Year of graduation: 2018
Main Tutor: Megan Jenkinson



Niki Hill studied at Elam School of Fine Arts from 2005 to 2008 graduating with a Bachelor of Fine Art, BFA(Hons) degree in 2009. In 2016, she returned to Elam to study for a Masters of Fine Art degree at Elam, graduating in May 2018.

Niki created a suite of photographic portraits and abstract landscapes: the landscapes function as both metaphor and visual counterpoint to the images with figures. The figures and their poses, represent the awkward on-going struggle against ableism; the societal barriers that manifest in the lives of people with disabilities and their families (Ableism is the discrimination and marginalisation of people with disabilities in favour of the able-bodied of society). Photographs of landscape details have been projected over a body shrouded in a stretch fabric, set against a black background. The resulting images conjure alienated beings and dark atmospheres. These portraits and abstract landscapes visualise the otherworldliness and chaotic nature of life in the metaphorical disability landscape.



Michael Mahne Lamb, College of Creative Arts, Massey University, Wellington.

Year of graduation: 2015
Main Tutor: Caroline McQuarrie


[full_width]Michael Lamb is a New Zealand born artist currently based in Wellington. He holds a Bachelor of Design (Honours) from Massey University. His recent photographic work is informed by, and explores, the psychology of visual thinking. In particular, how images can stimulate the mind through the activation of amodal perception. Recognising this concept in daily observations by recording perceptual incompletions that are present—or utilising the subtractive nature of the photographic medium to de-contextualise the frame—Lamb’s work is intended to challenge and subsequently satisfy each viewer uniquely by calling to the individual’s library of visual concepts gathered through experience.
In 2017, Michael was a finalist of NZ Photobook of the Year.[/full_width]


The 2018 NZ Art Show took place from June 1 – 4 in the TSB Bank Arena, Queens Wharf on the Wellington waterfront, with the Show’s opening Gala Evening held on Thursday, May 31.

The NZ Art Show wishes to thank the following for their support.