Chartwell Trust Student Art Writing Prize


The Chartwell Trust Student Art Writing Prize is an annual award that asks students of Victoria University of Wellington to write a review or essay about an exhibition at the Adam Art Gallery or a work from the Victoria University of Wellington Art Collection.

The prize is generously sponsored by The Chartwell Trust which provides support and patronage to a number of selected art projects, galleries and artists, with the central aim of providing opportunities for the encouragement of understanding about art both within the public art sector and the wider community.



Congratulations to Sinead Overbye, winner of the 2017 Chartwell Trust Student Art Writing Prize! Sinead is an Art History and Creative Writing student at Victoria University of Wellington and wrote her essay about Superstar by Séraphine Pick, a painting in the VUW Art Collection.

Read the winning essay The Stars in Our Eyes by Sinead Overbye here.


Seraphine Pick, Superstar, 2015, oil on linen, 1650 x 2000 mm, Victoria University of Wellington Art Collection, purchased 2016

This year’s judges were Dr. Rebecca Rice and Anna-Marie White. Their statement:

The Chartwell Trust Student Art Writing Prize is a critically important event in the university calendar providing ambitious art-interested students with an opportunity to distinguish themselves through their written work. Opportunities to write for contexts outside the parameters of the classroom are rare and important. Students who take advantage of them demonstrate a commitment to their potential future as art historians and their desire to pursue a career in the arts.

Over the years, the archive of previous winning entries has grown, and today reveals the high standard and varied styles of art writing at Victoria University. This archive is a useful teaching tool and guide, providing art history students with excellent examples of art writing specific to art works and exhibitions held on campus. On that note we would like to recognise the recent achievements of previous Chartwell Prize winners, Emma K. Ng (2012), Simon Gennard (2014) and Evangeline Riddiford Graham (2016) who are all prominent and active figures in contemporary art discourse in New Zealand and abroad.

It has been a pleasure to judge this year’s entries and to have an opportunity to gauge the quality of current students’ work. We were impressed with the sophisticated, nuanced and highly subjective style of the entries as well as the dominance of young women writers. Before announcing the winner, we would like to specially mention the work of Jane Wallace and Constance Brown, whose work was highly commended.

This year’s winner is Sinead Overbye, who offered a highly personalised response to Seraphine Pick’s Superstar 2015 (Victoria University of Art Collection, purchased 2016). Sinead took a novel approach in her interpretation of this painting focussing on the spirit expressed by the image, a view of ecstatic fans at a music concert. She relates this spirit to her own irrational passion for a celebrity musician and, from a perspective distanced by time and maturity, questions the cult of celebrity in which she was absorbed. She seamlessly wove together her subjective response with critical insights about the painting as an object and its place within a broader art history of painting. We felt that her essay was simply and honestly crafted, authentic to the experience described in the painting. It evoked young adult memories that lingered in the minds of both judges.



An essay on the role of language in the exhibition Inhabiting Space by Evangeline Riddiford Graham, winner 2016

Ways of looking; ways of seeing by Cindy Jemmett, winner 2016

Kari Schmidt winner 2015

Simon Gennard winner 2014

Nalin Samountry winner 2013

Hadleigh Tiddy’s winner 2013

Katherine Emma Ng winner 2012 [PDF]

Sharon Taylor-Offord winner 2011 [PDF]

Kath Foster winner 2010 [PDF]

Abby Wendy winner 2009 [PDF]

Jamie Morris joint winner 2008 [pdf]

Meredith Parkin joint winner 2008 [PDF]

Stella Ramage winner 2007 [PDF]