Finalists for 2023 Sculpture Awards Announced

54 Sculptures Announced as Finalists for R.T Nelson Awards for Sculpture 2023

The R.T Nelson Awards for Sculpture selection panel has selected 54 artworks as finalists, representing a diverse range of styles and materials, including pounamu, stone, wood, glass, bronze, stainless steel, urethane, silver, gold, clay, copper, concrete, feathers, taxidermy, resin, and harakeke. The awards, founded by Wellington businessman, philanthropist, and art collector Richard T Nelson, champion small-scale sculpture, with a total prize pool of $20,000, including a Premier prize of $15,000 and five highly commended prizes of $1,000 each.

One of the selected artworks is a collaboration between an artist and her bees, using beeswax as the primary material. Te Horo artist Kim Kobialko, who goes by the artist name Studio Reset, has been working with encaustic (wax paintings) for several years, was inspired to create a beeswax sculpture for the awards.

“I began thinking how I could take the beeswax into a 3D sculptural form and push the boundaries of what I already do,” says Kim. “There was a lot of experimenting and trial and error before the bees played ball. But we got there in the end. I’m delighted with the result.”

Whilst this technique is not unique, bee-generated sculptures are quite rare. Carla Russell, Executive Director of the Awards, is excited by the concept.

“I don’t know of anyone else in New Zealand creating this type of sculpture, and it will definitely be a first for these awards,” says Carla. “Overall, I’m delighted at some of the ingenious ways artists are presenting their materials.”

Kim Kobialko with her artwork in progress
An example of Steph Lusted’s artwork

Wellington fine-jeweller Steph Lusted attended the 2022 Awards exhibition and was inspired to enter.

 “The exhibition was great last year, very diverse with high-quality craftsmanship” says Steph. “It is so rare to have small scale works focused on, especially with an awards opportunity so I am really looking forward to taking part.”

Amongst the finalists are New Plymouth studio and street artist MILARKY, Head of Manufacture at Weta Workshop Rob Gillies, and bronze sculptor Jonathan Campbell from Lower Hutt, a previous finalist and winner of one of these awards. Jonathan’s wife, Anna, has also been selected as a finalist. Sydney-based Emily Valentine, whose works encompass taxidermy and feathers, will be submitting two works.

“The calibre of talent of the finalists is exceptional, and this year’s exhibition promises to be another high-quality show,” says Carla. “Richard appreciates the elegance and grace of sculpture and wishes to reward technique and true craftsmanship through this award.” This is the third year of the awards, and 20 of the artists have won awards in this or other competitions.

View the list of finalists here. All sculptures will be available for sale.

The finalist exhibition will be hosted by the 2023 NZ Art Show. The winners will be announced June 1 at a private function and the exhibition will be open to the public June 2 & 3. Come to the show and celebrate these talented sculptors – buy tickets here.

Bronzerrotype #46. Huia, bronze sculpture by finalist Jonathan Campbell. This piece received an R.T Nelson Awards for Sculpture Highly Commended prize in 2021
Emily Valentine works with taxidermy and feathers.

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