Open daily, 10am-4pm

42-44 Devonport Road, Tauranga



June 9, 2023 - Aotearoa New Zealand’s most significant prize for painting has been announced.


Following a meticulous evaluation process by a panel of distinguished judges, the winner is Tāmakai Makaurau Auckland artist, Owen Connors.


Launched in 2017, The Rydal Art Prize is a joint venture between Tauranga Art Gallery and Seeds Trust. This bi-annual prize awards an artist $25,000 for a work or body of work deemed to be outstanding in the field of painting over the prior two-year period. Previous winners are Ayesha Green (2021), and Christina Pataialii (2019).


Drawn from around the country, the panel of judges Abby Cunnane, Megan Dunn, Nathan Pohio, and Serena Bentley awarded Connors for Incubations, shown at Robert Heald Gallery in September 2021.  “We haven’t seen works like these before. Connors has developed his own unique visual language to create searing paintings that investigate the queer experience, often from the inside out. They may not represent the easiest works to digest for a wide public, but Connors is utterly singular, a visionary for our time”. 


Incubations comprises five double-sided tondo paintings in egg tempera. The works are all circular paintings on board, that feature trompe-l'œil still life’s; on one side scrupulously arranged food platters, and more erotic and disquieting scenes of the male body on the other.  


Tauranga Art Gallery Director Sonya Korohina says “We extend the warmest of congratulations to Owen Connors on this outstanding achievement. The Rydal builds on an exceptional year they are having as the McCahon House artist in residence and  Auckland Art Gallery Walters Prize finalist.


”As the winner of the Rydal Art Prize Owen Connors will also receive a solo exhibition at Tauranga Art Gallery in 2024. “We look forward to presenting a show of their work that will inspire, engage and challenge our audiences”.

Read more here

PLEASE NOTE that these images are provided for the purposes of news reporting in relation to these specific exhibitions only. MAY NOT crop, edit, overprint, recolour, or otherwise manipulate these images in any way. The images must always be fully credited, as per the provided credit lines, in every instance of reuse.  


Rydal Art Prize 2023 Recipient: 
Owen Connors (they/them) 
Born Greymouth, New Zealand, 1992 (30 years).
Lives Tāmaki Makaurau, Auckland.
BFA (Hons), Elam School of Fine Arts, University of Auckland, 2015.
Nominated for Incubations, September 2021, exhibited at Robert Heald Gallery, Wellington. They are the current McCahon House artist in residence and a finalist in the 2024 Auckland Art Gallery Walters Prize.

Judging Panel: 
Serena Bentley, Tauranga Art Gallery
Serena Bentley is a curator and art writer and currently Senior Curator at Toi Tauranga. She has held curatorial positions at ACMI (Melbourne) where she was one of the lead curators on their new permanent exhibition The Story of the Moving Image and at The National Gallery of Victoria (Melbourne) where she curated the organisation’s first virtual reality commission, Jess Johnson’s Ixian Gate. She has also worked in commercial galleries including Anna Schwartz Gallery, Melbourne and Roslyn Oxley9 Gallery, Sydney and as Artistic Program Manager at artist development organisation Next Wave (Melbourne).

Abby Cunane, Director, Physics Room Christchurch
Abby Cunnane is a curator and writer, currently director of The Physics Room Contemporary Art Space in Ōtautahi. With artist Amy Howden-Chapman, she is co-editor of The Distance Plan, an online journal that brings together artists, scientists, and writers to discuss climate change in relation to contemporary art. She has written for a range of Aotearoa based art publications, and in 2018 completed an MPhil thesis focusing on curatorial writing and material relationships in Aotearoa.

Nathan Pohio, Auckland Art Gallery
Nathan Pōhio (Waitaha, Kāti Mamoe, Kāi Tahu, Ngāti Kahungunu, Tauiwi) is Senior Curator Māori at Auckland Art Gallery Toi o Tamaki, a founding member of Paemanu and Co-Vice President of Te Ūaka Lyttleton Museum. Pōhio is an artist and Senior Curator Māori Art at Auckland Art Gallery Toi o Tamaki. Pōhio worked at Te Puna o Waiwhetū Christchurch Art Gallery from 2002 – 2021, where he curated, He Rau Maharataka Whenua: A Memory of Land with Ta Tipene O’Regan in a cultural advisory role; researched and co-curated Te Wheke: Pathways Across Oceania and Ralph Hotere: Ātete, to Resist.

Megan Dunn, City Gallery Wellington
Megan Dunn is the author of Things I Learned at Art School (2021) and Tinderbox (2017). She has written art reviews and criticism for over twenty years, and is a regular arts commentator on RNZ’s Saturday Morning with Kim Hill. She currently works as a curator for Experience Wellington.


Media Enquiries:  
Ashlee Hastings 
Marketing and Communications 
Tauranga Art Gallery 

Principal Funder

Annual Strategic Partners