A big congratulations to Luke Willis Thompson who won the coveted 2014 Walters Prize over the weekend.
“I feel totally overwhelmed, super shocked,” the highly emotional artist said. “I have to thank my family who backed this piece, all of my siblings who allowed their lives to be put on display and especially my mother for being dislocated.”
At 26, Thompson, who is based in Auckland and Frankfurt, is the youngest artist to win the prize, founded in 2002 to honour New Zealand artist Gordon Walters and promote the development of New Zealand contemporary art.
The international judge, Charles Esche, director of the Van Abbemuseum in the Netherlands and curator of this year’s Sao Paulo Biennale, said Thompson’s work cut “through the protocols of the exhibition system like a knife …
Anticipation, uncertainty, uneasiness and privilege all play their part in charging a sense of personal displacement”.
Viewers are escorted by a security guard down the goods lift at the Auckland Art Gallery and through the loading dock to a taxi, which then takes them on a circuitous route to a surprise destination.
The destination — a large old villa in one of Auckland’s more affluent suburbs — is a very personal one for Thompson. It is his family home, where his mother — and possibly others — still live.
The viewer is free to wander around the house, bar the bedrooms, where the doors are closed. It quickly becomes obvious that while the villa may be in an area where house values have been boosted by gentrification, it remains in its original state.
Its lack of insulation is instantly noticeable. The lounge has a large heat pump, but the crooked door to the outside verandah allows the draughts to come whistling through.
But the home has its own warmth, with the detritus of family life piled up in each and every room.
Linda Herrick, NZ Herald, 28/09/14