The Aroha poster outside a dairy in Auckland in May. Photo / Alex Burton
An artist’s proof of a painting that sparked an Electoral Commission investigation before the election is expected break price record at an art auction tomorrow night.
The art piece of Jacinda Ardern, which has her signature on it, is the work of Mike Weston and Otis Frizzell, who operate as Weston Frizzell and are long-time supporters of the Labour Party.
It is one of many art pieces that have been donated by local artists to help raise funds for the IHC Art Awards, which provides artists with intellectual disability the opportunity to have their talent recognised and sell their work.
The painting “Aroha” is a pop art image of Prime Minister Ardern that was created in the wake of last year’s Christchurch mosque shootings and the original sold to a Tauranga woman for $19,500.
Dame Denise L’Estrange-Corbet, founder of WORLD Legacy Charity Project and IHC Art Awards ambassador said the artwork could set a record breaking amount.
The auction is an annual event to help raise funds for artists with disabilities.
“I have a feeling this will break a record, as not only is it the first artist’s proof, it is signed by the artists and the Prime Minister whilst she is in office,” she said.
“When the boys called it ‘Aroha’, I understand they had no idea it was her daughter’s middle name.”
L’Estrange-Corbet said she was extremely lucky to have been able to get Ardern to sign it as it was during the election campaign and she was travelling extensively.
“I literally was given 10 minutes notice to get it to her, so I dropped everything and dashed,” she said.
“She was adamant that it could only be sold with the proceeds going to the IHC Art Awards, and I am very grateful to her for this.”
The art piece was styled similar to the iconic Barack Obama “Hope” poster but with Ardern’s image and the word “Aroha”, the Māori word for love.
“I feel in 20 years it will be so valuable, as imagine having a pop art image of Margaret Thatcher or Barack Obama, signed by them, whilst they were in office, I mean how often does that come along,” said L’Estrange-Corbet.
“It will be a piece of New Zealand history.”
Ahead of the elections, Weston Frizzell put up dozens of the prints at various dairies and locations across the country, which sparked complaints to the Electoral Commission.
The Taxpayers’ Union claimed at the time that the posters fit under the law’s definition of advertisements and were likely to persuade someone to vote for a given candidate or party.
Weston felt however it was freedom of expression, which was protected by the Bill of Rights.
Following an investigation, the commission concluded the posters displayed in a commercial space were considered ads for the Labour Party.
L’Estrange-Corbet said that because of the Covid-19 pandemic, art centres around the country have been closed leaving artists struggling to do their work.
She launched a sub brand called “Artists 4 Artists” which aimed at getting established artists helping out those who were less established.
Artists who have donated their works for auction also include Billy Apple, Judy Darragh, Max Gimblett, Bill Hammond and Greer Twiss.
“All the artists generosity has been phenomenal.. .and I think it will be a huge night,” L’Estrange-Corbet said.
The auction will be at Webbs, Normanby Rd, tomorrow at 6.30pm and is the first section up before the annual pre-Christmas art auction.
Webbs estimated the “Aroha” art piece could sell between $2500 and $4500.
The artists and Webbs have waived all rights and charges, and all proceeds will go to the IHC Art Awards.