This Year’s Judge
Francis McWhannell is a writer, gallerist, and exhibition-maker based in Tāmaki Makaurau. He holds a Master of Arts in Art History (First Class Honours) from the University of Auckland Te Whare Wānanga o Tāmaki Makaurau. He is co-director of Season, a commercial gallery established in February 2022 in partnership with artist, curator, and writer Jade Townsend. He is curator the Fletcher Trust Collection, a major private collection of Aotearoa art founded in 1962. He is a passionate advocate for the arts in general and early-career artists from Aotearoa in particular. He has been a judge for several art awards, including the Aspiring Art Prize and the Eden Arts Art Schools Award.
Francis has contributed to various arts and culture magazines and websites, including Art Collector (Australia), Art New Zealand, Art News New Zealand, Index, The Spinoff, and 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), Denys Watkins: Dynamo Hum (Gus Fisher Gallery, 2017), and Autonomous Bodies (New Zealand Portrait Gallery Te Pūkenga Whakaata, 2021). He has produced exhibitions for the Gus Fisher Gallery, the Aotearoa Art Fair, and a number dealer galleries in Tāmaki Makaurau.