Local artists selected as finalists

Finalist Sierra Roberts created her self portrait for the Adams Portraiture Award in response to comments that it was inappropriate to celebrate cultures other than her own | Sierra Roberts

Local artists Sierra Roberts and Stephen Martyn Welch are among four Central Otago artists to be named as finalists in the biennial Adam Portraiture Awards this year. 

The winner of the competition, which celebrates the power of portraiture, New Zealanders, and the portrait painters who represent them features a $20,000 prize. It would be followed by a month-long exhibition of finalists’ work at the New Zealand Portrait Gallery Te Pukenga Whakata in Wellington, and a national tour.

Entering the competition for the first time, 27-year-old Wānaka local Roberts told the Wānaka Sun A self portrait was created for the awards in response to a comment “slapping” her with the idea that it was inappropriate to appreciate or celebrate other cultures. Roberts, whose paintings typically aimed to celebrate diverse beauty perceptions from different cultures, said she was “quite hurt” by the comment, adding that “painting always seemed the most natural way to move through that kind of distress.”

Her portrait will be displayed in the finalists’ exhibition at Shed 11 on Wellington’s waterfront, alongside Everybody Needs a Portrait by Luggate-based artist Stephen Martyn-Welch —  who won the Adam Portraiture Award in 2012 and has been nominated as a finalist on numerous occasions —  University of Otago student Ben Mitchell, and Dunedin-raised Imogen Corbett.

“It’s incredible for our area that there are four finalists from Central Otago,” said Roberts. “It’s nice to know the art community is getting stronger and stronger. I’m really proud and excited to be part of that talented community and excited for future projects together.”

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