About the awards

A unique opportunity for Aotearoa sculpture.

These awards recognise excellence in New Zealand sculpture and seek to foster a market for small scale sculpture, so collectors can enjoy them at home.

Molded. Cast. Carved. Assembled. Elegance. Excellence. Craftmanship.

These awards highlight the diversity of small-scale works and celebrate our unique culture and heritage through New Zealand sculpture.

Applications for the 2023 awards are now open – scroll down for the application form under the heading ENTER THE AWARDS

The awards are valued at $20,000 with a premier prize of $15,000 rewarding creative talent and craftsmanship, and five highly commended prizes of $1000 each.

A preliminary selection panel will select up to 50 finalists to be considered for the awards.

Hosted by the annual NZ Art Show in Wellington, all finalist artworks will be exhibited and available for purchase. The award winners will be announced at a private function on 1 June and the exhibition will be open to the public on 2 and 3 June.

The awards exhibition will be closed for viewing on 4 June, however the NZ Art Show will still be open that day.


2022 awards

86 artworks by 65 artists were exhibited as finalists at the 2022 NZ Art Show, 2-4 June, in Wellington. The award winners were announced by judge Lynne Sandri at an awards ceremony at the NZ Art Show on June 2.
Congratulations to Lissy and Rudi Robinson-Cole for winning the $15,000 Premier Award for their works artworks Harikoa – Aroā Nukunuku and Paki – He Taonga Tuku Iho, hand carvings embellished with crocheted neon NZ wool.

Read about the 2022 winners here

View the 2022 finalists and winners here

View a media story about the finalists here.

Enter the awards

Awards Founder

Richard T. Nelson is an avid art collector and philanthropist. Originally from the USA, Richard has called Wellington, NZ home for past 25 years

Richard’s love of sculpture started more than 50 years ago upon visiting a small gallery in Haiti. There he came across some beautiful works by a Haitian sculptor, Ludovic Booz. He purchased 3 elegant mahogany sculptures that he admires and appreciates to this day.

Degrees from Yale and Stanford Universities followed by a successful career in Investments has enabled Richard to pursue his love of art.

His collection holds contemporary pieces from around the world including Europe, the United States, New Zealand, Australia, Haiti, Japan and Africa. His sculpture collection includes a considerable selection of smaller works, providing the inspiration for this award.

Richard appreciates the elegance and grace of sculpture, and wishes to reward technique and true craftsmanship through this award which he instigated in 2021.

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Artists and art lovers: if you would like to receive reminder notifications about the 2023 R.T Nelson Awards for Sculpture, please provide your details in the form below.

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