Matt Jones takes out the Napier Waller Art Prize for 2020

The Napier Waller Art Prize encourages artistic excellence, promotes the transformative power of creativity, and raises awareness of the experiences and talent of service personnel. This year, Matt Jones has won the $10,000 prize for his work entitled Yarn (2020); made from thread and recycled fabric, and inspired by the blue and yellow maritime signal flag, Kilo, which has the meaning, ‘I want to communicate with you’.

‘The act of making this oversized signal flag is a declaration that I wish to leave the messiness of the past behind me,’ Jones said in his artist statement. ‘It’s time to pick up the loose threads and broken relationships, be they personal, societal or institutional.’

The winning work will be displayed at the Australian War Memorial and accessioned into the National Collection. In addition to his cash prize, Jones will receive a two-week research residency in the Art section of the Memorial, and a mentoring day with eX de Medici, former official war artist to the Solomon Islands.

Matt Jones, Yarn, 2020, yarn, recycled waste fabric, 183 x 183 x 18cm. © the artist

Yarn is part of a shortlist of 17 Highly Commended artworks chosen by a judging panel comprising: Matt Anderson, Director of the Australian War Memorial; eX de Medici, former official war artist; Nick Mitzevich, Director of the National Gallery of Australia; Professor Paddy Nixon, Vice-Chancellor and President of the University of Canberra; General Angus Campbell AO DSC, Chief of the Australian Defence Force; Gary Dawson, Vice President Strategy, Thales Australia; Laura Webster, Head of Art, Australian War Memorial; and Paul Flynn, Chief Executive Officer, Hospital Research Foundation.

Anderson said the judging panel was impressed with the number of entries and their standard.

‘The Napier Waller Art Prize does not have a theme, so entrants explored any idea or experience that was important to them. We were struck by the diversity of stories relating both to service, and to everyday life – from recent experiences of social isolation, to the beauty of the natural world, love for family, and recovery from trauma.

‘The artworks reflect the qualities we admire in our service personnel and our veterans: creativity, humour, resilience and skill. We are honoured to bring the stories and voices of veterans and service personnel into the heart of the Memorial. We are proud of their service,’ Anderson said.

An exhibition of the artworks highly commended will be held at the Australian War Memorial from 25 September to 22 November 2020.

The general public are invited to vote online for their favourite work in the $5,000 People’s Choice award.