Countdown starts to IHC Art Awards

May 26, 2022

The countdown has started for the IHC Art Awards with the naming of this year’s judges.

Actor Libby Hunsdale, artist and sculptor Simon Lewis Wards and Student Volunteer Army CEO Sam Johnson make up our panel of judges for the 2022 IHC Art Awards.

Libby Hunsdale starred in the 2021 film Poppy and was the first lead actor to play a woman with Down syndrome in a feature film in New Zealand. She is also the first person with an intellectual disability to be on the judging panel.

A rising star, Libby is now appearing in Down for Love, a primetime series on TVNZ 2, about people with Down syndrome looking for love. (See Love Stories in the Making.)

Auckland sculptor Simon Lewis Wards works predominantly in ceramics and cast glass and is best known for his playful interpretations of iconic New Zealand candy.

After a four-year stint in Paris, Simon came home with a clear vision for his practice. He set up a studio in a repurposed vineyard in the Waitākere Ranges, where he now works on his projects, including large-scale public sculptures.

“I could not be more excited to be involved in the IHC Art Awards. The winning works from previous years are absolutely beautiful, and I can’t wait to see what this year brings,” Simon says.

Sam Johnson has been a long-time fan of the Art Awards since being given a book about them. “Last year I purchased an artwork via the Awards and it’s a favourite of mine. I purchased it after the lockdown and I think it describes my lockdown experience,” he says.

“People with disabilities have been impacted by COVID in more ways than people realise, yet the young people with disabilities we work with in partnership with IHC continue to be incredible local heroes, helping each other out and volunteering in small ways to help those around them.”

Since the pandemic started in 2020, the IHC Art Awards have not been able to celebrate the art and the artists in person. But we are enjoying connecting with a wider audience online to promote the awards and sell the art – 100 percent of the sale price goes to the artists.

While dates are still being finalised, the judging is expected to take place in June and July to select the Top 100 works and the 30 finalists. This will be followed by L’affare People’s Choice Award voting. IHC is again planning to exhibit the Top 100 works at a pop-up gallery in Wellington.

Entries are now open, and close on 31 May. People aged 13 and over with intellectual disabilities, or intellectual disabilities and autism, can enter. All artworks are to be submitted online using the Art Awards Entry form. Visit

Caption 1: Sam Johnson last year purchased this work by artist Matthew Weeding, who created the portrait using colour crayon and pencil on board.

Caption 2: Libby Hunsdale

Caption 3: Simon Lewis Wards

Caption 4: Sam Johnson


This story was published in Strong Voices. The magazine is posted free to all IHC members. Read the full issue of Strong Voices or view more articles.