This Year’s Judge
Francis McWhannell is a writer and exhibition-maker from Aotearoa New Zealand, currently based in Tāmaki Makaurau Auckland. He holds a Bachelor of Arts (Honours) in Museums and Cultural Heritage and a Master of Arts in Art History (First Class Honours) from the University of Auckland Te Whare Wānanga o Tāmaki Makaurau. He is curator of the Fletcher Trust Collection, a major private collection of Aotearoa art founded in 1962, and curatorial adviser to the dealer gallery Visions. He is a passionate advocate for the arts in general and early-career artists from Aotearoa in particular. He was a judge of the Aspiring Art Prize in 2019 and the Eden Arts Art Schools Award in 2019 and 2020.
Francis has written for various arts and culture magazines and websites, including Art Collector (Australia), Art New Zealand, Art News New Zealand, Index, and The Spinoff. He contributes regularly to The Pantograph Punch, where he was Visual Arts Editor from 2016 to 2017. He has written essays for exhibitions at public and commercial galleries, including Painting: a transitive space (ST PAUL St Gallery Three, 2016) and Denys Watkins: Dynamo Hum (Gus Fisher Gallery, 2017). He is co-author of two books on historical photography, Bitter fruit: Australian photographs to 1963 (Michael Graham-Stewart, 2017) and Broad sunlight: Early West African photography (2020).
His exhibitions include Postcards from Papatoetoe (Old Papatoetoe mall, 2016), Fluid structures: Watercolour group show (Parlour Projects, 2017), and Projects 2019: Whanaungatanga (Auckland Art Fair, 2019). He is presently working on a group show of photographs with Chris Corson-Scott, Undercurrents: reimagining New Zealand, to be accompanied by a substantial publication.