- On 3 August 2020 the prize was awarded to photomedia artist Poppy Lekner for her work Forward Slash.
- On 10 August 2020 Lekner was accused of plagiarising the work that she submitted for the prize.
- Chris Parkin, the philanthropist behind the art prize says he is “quite satisfied with the integrity or the sincerity of the artist."
The Parkin Prize is an annual national award that works at promoting the artistic discipline of drawing in New Zealand. The award is open to all who permanently live in New Zealand or have citizenship in the country. Together with a $25,000 prize, each year’s winning entry is added to the Parkin drawing collection.
The prize was set up by Chris Parkin: a patron of the arts in New Zealand and former owner of the country’s only boutique art hotel in Wellington: Museum Art Hotel.
On 3 August 2020 the prize was awarded to photomedia artist Poppy Lekner for her work Forward Slash. The artwork was chosen from a selection of 482 entries.
In motivating Lekner’s win, the head of art at Te Papa (New Zealand’s national museum) and chair of the 2020 Parkin Prize judging panel, Charlotte Davy told New Zealand news platform Stuff the following:
Speaking to the New Zealand Herald, Lekner says she completed the artwork a day before entries for the Parkin Prize closed. Apart from describing Forward Slash as “a different way to look at what drawing can be” Lekner also said the following to the New Zealand Herald:
A week after winning the prize, Lekner was accused of plagiarising the work that she submitted.
Alan MacDonald, an artist who also submitted work for the prize in 2020 flagged Lekner’s work for its likeness to a piece by Joel Swanson of the same name, / (forward slash). Lekner's Forward Slash was made by typing forward slashes on an A4 piece of paper using a typewriter. Swanson, an American artist based in Colorado, says he first made his Forward Slash in 2015 as a part of a series of non-alphanumeric patterns made with a typewriter.
Commenting on Lekner’s work Swanson said the following:
Both Lekner and Swanson’s artworks are similar to the artwork Dattilograme Typwriter Poem? by Maurizio Nannucci.
In defending her award winning work, Lekner says her work was made “in good faith” and that she was only made aware of Swanson’s work after she had won the prize.
The prize’s founder, Parkin told New Zealand Herald how such controversy adds “spice” to the art world and that he is “quite satisfied with the integrity or the sincerity of the artist."