Ben Pearce Wins Inaugural ARA Award

A unique opportunity for Hawke’s Bay-based artists has been launched this year, in the form of the ARA Charitable Trust Award (Assisting Regional Artists in Hawke's Bay Heretaunga and Poverty Bay Tairawhiti). Local sculptor, Ben Pearce, has been selected as the inaugural recipient for this significant award.

Established in 2022, the $30,000 ARA Charitable Trust Award recognises the commitment of a mid-career contemporary artist living in Hawke’s Bay, who is currently employed in some form of full- or part-time employment. The grant responds to the fact that our regional contemporary artists are often creatively rich but time poor – relying on outside employment to fund their practices, which in turn allows them less time to experiment and advance their creative work.

Inaugural winner Pearce relocated from Wellington to Hawke’s Bay in 2005 to join the group of makers at Cicada Studios; an initiative set up to provide working spaces for creatives. Since settling in Napier, he has maintained a constant exhibiting calendar in both New Zealand and abroad, winning many awards for his extraordinary work. Pearce says of winning the ARA Award:

"I’m extremely humbled and honoured to be selected for this award, and thank the vision of the many patrons who have contributed towards it. It’s a pivotal moment for me and for my practice. I have many opportunities laying ahead of me but due to the costs of materials and running a studio, I have still had to keep my day job. I’ve got a head brimming with ideas and big plans for the future, the only thing missing was time. And winning this award grants me that."

Upon selecting the artist, ARA sought the experience of an independent curator, Helen Kegley, former director of the Pataka Art + Museum, who said of her selection:

"I have followed Ben's career over a number of years, most recently with his commission for the Wellington Sculpture Trust. I am delighted that this award will give him the opportunity to experiment and focus solely on his sculpture, and I look forward to seeing the results."

Pearce will no doubt utilise this opportunity to expand on his already growing list of achievements. Over the years, while also working and raising a young family, his practice has continued to gain significant momentum. Patrons and the community alike are excited to see Pearce take his practice to the next level.

Those interested in becoming patrons for next year's iteration are welcome to contact the ARA Charitable Trust ( For any questions or enquiries relating to Pearce's work, please contact Parlour Projects (

Ben Pearce Wins Inaugural ARA Award