Drawing featuring typed forward slashes wins New Zealand art competition

4 August 2020, 00:44

Forward Slash came first in the New Zealand art competition
Forward Slash came first in the New Zealand art competition. Picture: Parkin Drawing Prize
Nick Hardinges

By Nick Hardinges

An English-born artist has won £12,000 in a New Zealand art competition for a piece containing thousands of typed out forward slashes on a sheet of A4 paper.

Poppy Lekner, who was born in the UK but now lives in New Zealand's capital Wellington, won $25,000 (NZD) after coming first in a competition known for pushing artistic boundaries.

The artist's 'Forward Slash' piece was ranked number one out of 482 entries in the 2020 Parkin Drawing Prize, described by local media as a prestigious competition, which has previously given the top prize to a jumbled pile of carpet from an old state house.

Ms Lekner admitted the "drawing" will not be "everybody's cup of tea," while philanthropist and arts patron Chris Parkin said the piece was likely to "baffle most people," according to the New Zealand Herald.

"I have worked on lots of different explorations using the typewriter but I hadn't committed as much time previously as I had in this work, which required dedication because using a typewriter to mark make is quite a laborious thing," the artist said.

"I had to really concentrate the entire time. It's very easy to make a mistake on a very detailed, very fine thing."

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The full length version of Forward Slash typed out on a piece of A4 paper
The full length version of Forward Slash typed out on a piece of A4 paper. Picture: Parkin Drawing Prize

She added the piece was "a different way to look at what drawing can be."

Ms Lekner, who only completed the piece a day before entries closed, said she was "just super gobsmacked" to have won.

Charlotte Davy, who judged this year's entries and is head of art at New Zealand's national museum, Te Papa, explained why she had chosen Ms Lekner's work as the winning piece.

"It's such a beautiful... minimal work where she's really exploring a kind of meditation of process, literally just repeating forward slash over and over again... creating a beautiful woven pattern," Stuff website reported Ms Davy as saying.

"I felt it was really delicate, strong, and it spoke a lot to me about finding a place of contemplation in a world that feels quite chaotic."

Mr Parkin described 'Forward Slash' as "a very meticulous, methodical repetition that almost, I think, defies the description of art."

See other works by Poppy Lekner below.

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Mini cameraless digital and analogue collage from this week. Enjoying the physical interaction with the material photograph and playing with what this means. Remembering Shelton’s @annshelton_ inverted landscapes introducing otherness to an image, and abstraction - Agnes Martin, Berenice Abbott, and more recent digital interventions with objects/materials by Lucas Blalock @lucasblalock. Relates also to The Swimmer by John Cheever with inversions/omissions/additions in the story also - a rejigging of experience- opening up questions about time/memory/object/experience. #cameraless #collage #circle #altphoto #experimentalphotography #repetition #horizontality #memory #object #johncheever #theswimmer #agnesmartin #bereniceabbott #fineartphotography

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Found extractions from a few years ago. A slicing/dicing/extracting period when I was aiming to isolate a part or pieces of a whole. And permit a conversation between the individual pieces. A kind of double reduced photography. These works I made into objects. I liked the chance to abstract further an object from it’s already abstracted form in photographic essay form printed material. A kind of retro mirroring of our relationship with the plethora of images -a kind of heterotopia. I also made a series: lady 1, lady 2 etc of cut perspex thinking about naming systems and again another level of abstraction/reduction. #heterotopia #thinkingaboutphotography #thinkingaboutimages #reduction #abstraction #foundphotography #foundphoto #magazine #printedmaterial #onetomany #onetoone #pieces #fragments #contemporaryphotography

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