Australia's richest natural history art prize

Media release: Thursday, 25 September 2008

Top entries in Australia's richest natural history art prize feature in a new exhibition at the National Archives in Canberra.

Total prize money of $107,500 attracted 693 entries to the 2008 Waterhouse Natural History Art Prize, with 102 works selected as finalists. Prizes were awarded in three categories, for paintings, works on paper and sculpture and objects, with a $50,000 prize for the overall winner.

The National Archives is exhibiting 33 works, including all winners and highly commended finalists, from 26 September until 16 November. They include Canberra artist Brenda Runnegar's oil painting Spotted Fish which was highly commended.

Johannah Wilson, touring exhibitions manager at the National Archives, says she waits in anticipation for the winning works to be unveiled each year.

'I'm always delighted by the diversity of subjects and the methods artists use to celebrate our natural world,' she said. 'The exhibition is more than a chance to view a beautiful collection of art works.  It also provides an opportunity for us to reflect on the importance and fragility of our environment.

'One of my favourite works and one which I think visitors will particularly enjoy is titled Survival Down to the Wire – a koala made from recycled chicken wire. This work by South Australian Paul Ballantine won first prize in the sculpture and objects category.'

Other works range from the intricate detail of the overall winner Bandicoot Playground by Michael McWilliams to Dreaming of Water – Murray Mandala by Janine Mackintosh which is made from eucalyptus leaves.

'We're very fortunate to have these works at the National Archives, the only venue outside of Adelaide to host the exhibition each year,' said Ms Wilson.

The Waterhouse Natural History Art Prize celebrates the complexity of the world's biodiversity and encourages excellence in natural history art. The Waterhouse Prize commemorates the work of the South Australian Museum's first curator, Frederick George Waterhouse, one of the foremost naturalists of his era. He assembled a collection of insects, reptiles, birds, mammals and plants and discovered 40 new species of fish off the South Australian coastline.  The Waterhouse Natural History Art Prize is a travelling exhibition developed by the South Australian Museum. Anne Lyons, Assistant Director-General at the National Archives of Australia, was one of the judges on the 2008 Waterhouse panel.

Media can download a selection of high resolution images.

Contact information

  • Elizabeth Masters (Media Officer)
    t (02) 6212 3957 m 0427 853 664 e elizabeth.masters@naa.gov.au
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