The Napier Waller Art Prize

The Australian War Memorial and the University of Canberra invites 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. It is the first time that an art prize of this nature has been open to former and current Defence personnel at a national level.

Waller painting

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

“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

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. He served with the 111th Howitzer Battery, 4th Division. He was severely wounded during the fighting at Bullecourt in May 1917, and later had his right arm amputated. During his convalescence, he trained himself to write and draw with his left hand, later reflecting that “an artist draws with his head, not his hands.” In 1937 Waller was commissioned to create the decorative elements in the Hall of Memory at the Australian War Memorial.

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.

Key dates

Entries open Monday 11 June 2018 and close Wednesday 11 July 2018 – only online entries will be accepted.

An online exhibition of shortlisted entries will be featured on the Memorial’s website from Thursday 30 August 2018.

The winning entry will be announced on Thursday 20 September 2018.   


The Memorial invites entries in any visual art medium, including but not limited to: painting, photography, printmaking, drawing, sculpture, digital, decorative and installation. The work must not exceed 2 x 2 x 2 metres, and must have been completed in the 24 months prior to submission.

Entrants can download a resources list that explains how to measure, photograph and document their work.


            The Director of the Australian War Memorial Dr Brendan Nelson AO

            The Chairman of the Australian War Memorial Mr Kerry Stokes AC
            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

            Representative from the Australian Defence Force

            Representative from Thales Australia

            Representative from the Memorial's Art Section

Terms and Conditions

“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:

Soldier On, Legacy, Mates 4 Mates, Department of Veterans’ Affairs and RSL Australia.

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

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

The Napier Waller Art Prize is presented in partnership with the University of Canberra and is sponsored by Thales Australia.