WAMA Art Prize | Winners & Online Exhibition of Finalists

Over 500 entries were received for the inaugural WAMA Art Prize, Works on Paper, a national award of excellence for nature-inspired works created on or with paper, inviting a multi-disciplinary range of nature-inspired Australian artists to celebrate their connectivity with nature and raise awareness of the importance of conserving our precious and unique Australian environment.

The ‘WAMA Art Prize, Works on Paper’ exhibition of finalists showcases 40 artworks highlighting a multi-disciplinary range of talented artists from across the nation engaged in the theme of art and nature. The artworks innovatively used various techniques such as various printmaking techniques, collage, papier-mâché, gouache, watercolour, ink and charcoal drawing in works in two and three dimensions. These works canvas many perspectives, from acknowledging the power of First Nation’s Peoples knowledge of Country to contemplating the devastating impact of bush fires and drought on our environment, as well as celebrating the beauty and fragility of Australia’s flora and fauna.

Melissa Smith, Listen Deeply – Lake Sorell, 2021, intaglio collagraph print on Magnani paper, 76 x 120cm (triptych)

The major acquisitive prize of $15,000 was awarded to Tasmanian artist Melissa Smith for her work Listen Deeply – Lake Sorell (2021).

Three awards of excellence were awarded to Diane Fogwell for her work The Dead Tree Scroll – Silent Extinction (2021), Janet Matthews’ “Just flying through” – Red-Tailed Black cockatoos (2021), and Juanita McLauchlan’s Found (2021).

Diane Fogwell, The Dead Tree Scroll – Silent Extinction, 2021, Artist Book – mulberry (Hanji) paper, linocut, pigmented ink, burn drawing, transfer text and found burnt curtain rod, 11 x 10 x 35cm (closed), 11 x 1540cm (open)

The judging panel comprising Anne Virgo, Robert Nelson, Suzanne Davies and Jacky Healy were greatly impressed by the diversity and manifest talent of the artists being inspired and enriched by nature within their work.

Janet Matthews, “Just flying through” – Red Tailed Black cockatoos, 2021, graphite and colour pencil, 55 x 48cm, 78 x 72cm framed)

Jacky Healy, Chair of the WAMA Foundation’s Art Advisory Council, commented, ‘The quality and number of artists who have entered the prize, show the resonance that the theme of art and nature has within our creative community, their work reflecting the many environmental issues facing all of us.’

‘The winning artworks reveal the range of artists engaged with nature and the environment. The superb printmaking skills of Melissa Smith conjures the sense of silence of the Tasmanian wilderness. Juanita McLauchlan’s work on paper evokes the power of our First Nation’s Peoples knowledge of Country. A burnt curtain rod is incorporated into Dianne Fogwell’s artist’s book on the devastating impact of bush fires on the environment. In contrast, the joy of the flight path of the red-tailed black cockatoos is captured through a pencil drawing by Janet Mathews.’

Juanita McLauchlan, Found, 2021, woodcut mix media, 73 x 56cm (framed)

The exhibition invites the public to vote for their favourite artwork for the $2,500 People’s Choice Award. Voting is open until 22 October, with the winner announced on 25 October 2021.

Located adjacent to the national heritage listed Grampians (Gariwerd), Pomonal, Victoria, WAMA is creating a wildlife and art precinct that inspires, educates and stimulates our connection with nature. WAMA will boast a dedicated nature-inspired art gallery, set within botanic gardens and wetlands, that will nurture and protect rare species of plants and animals. In addition, WAMA will be a unique tourist destination that celebrates the relationship between art, science and nature.