The Napier Waller Art Prize

The Australian War Memorial and the University of Canberra invited current and former Australian Defence Force personnel to participate in the inaugural Napier Waller Art Prize.

The aim of the prize is to raise a broader awareness of the military experience and the impact of service on the individual. 

In its inaugural year, the Napier Waller Art Prize has attracted over 100 entries. The success and interest in the Prize has set a positive course for the Australian War Memorial to continue celebrating artistic excellence and raising broader awareness of the military experience.

Waller painting

Napier Waller (photographer John Cyril “Jack” Cato), c.1933–1934, Melbourne. Image courtesy of Susan Kellett 


The Australian War Memorial is pleased to announce Rob Douma as the winner of the inaugural Napier Waller Art Prize. 

Media release 

Rob Douma, Green on Blue: The betrayal of trust, drawn 2018, charcoal on snowdon archival paper, acquired 2018, AWM2018.809.1

Rob Douma, Green on Blue: The betrayal of trust, drawn 2018, charcoal on snowdon archival paper, acquired 2018, AWM2018.809.1

Winner's Prize

  • $10,000 cash prize sponsored by Thales Australia
  • A two-week research residency in the Art Section of the Memorial
  • A mentoring day with Ben Quilty, former official war artist
  • The winning work will go on display at the the Australian War Memorial and will be acquired for the Memorial's art collection.

People’s Choice

The Napier Waller Art Prize will be complemented with a $5,000 People’s Choice Award.
Voting for the Napier Waller People’s Choice Award closes on 25 November 2018.

Entries for this years Napier Waller Art Prize are now closed.

For any enquiries about the Napier Waller Art Prize please email:


Online exhibition

An online exhibition of 35 shortlisted artworks from 2018 showcasing the diversity and talent of former and current Defence personnel can be viewed here.

Napier Waller Prize 2018 online exhibition
View the exhibition


  • Dr Brendan Nelson AO, Director of the Australian War Memorial
  • Mr Kerry Stokes AC, Chairman of the Australian War Memorial, and Ms Christine Simpson Stokes
  • Mr Ben Quilty, former official war artist
  • Dr Gerard Vaughan AM
  • Distinguished Professor Jen Webb, Director of the Centre for Creative and Cultural Practice, Faculty of Arts and Design, University of Canberra
  • General Angus Campbell, Chief of the Australian Defence Force AO DSC
  • Mr Gary Dawson, Vice President Strategy, Thales Australia
  • Ms Laura Webster, Head of Art, Australian War Memorial

Art at the Australian War Memorial

There are approximately 40,000 works of art in the Memorial’s collection. Since the First World War the Memorial has acquired works that have responded to the Australian military experience, including those by soldier artists.

Napier Waller

Mervyn Napier Waller was an Australian artist and serviceman who enlisted in the Australian Imperial Force in August 1915. In May 1917 he was wounded in the right arm while serving with the 11th Field Artillery Brigade during the fighting at Bullecourt, and it was later amputated. During his convalescence he learned to write and draw with his left hand, saying “an artist draws with his head, not his hands”. In 1937, Waller was chosen to create the decorative elements in the Australian War Memorial’s Hall of Memory.

“Mounting evidence implies that arts and health can have an active, significant role across the military continuum and an individual’s lifespan as well as for families.”
Judy Rollins, Arts, Health and Well-Being across the Military Continuum: White Paper and Framing a National Plan for Action, Americans for the Arts, Washington DC, 2013

Profiles of artists who served: highlighted for the Napier Waller Art Prize

A number of prominent Australian artists have served in the military. For some of these artists the experience of war significantly shaped their arts practice, style and the themes explored in their work. For many, art became a path to understanding and healing some of the scars left by their experience. Read about some of these artists.

“The positive neurophysiological changes occurring during the making or viewing of the creative arts is now a well-researched field of endeavor. This research is now providing scientific, empirically based evidence as to the benefits of the arts.”
Ian Drayton, The Winston Churchill Memorial Trust of Australia Final Report,2017

We appreciate all submissions to the Napier Waller Art Prize. If difficulties arise in the course of your participation, help is available at Defence Health, Beyond Blue, or Lifeline.

Relevant service providers include:

A bibliography of international research in the field of creative arts and health can be found here:

The Napier Waller Art Prize is presented in partnership by The Road Home, the University of Canberra and Thales Australia.

The Road Home logo


You can view the terms and conditions here or download them below.