Matt Jones takes out the Napier Waller Art Prize for 2020

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he Australian War Memorial is pleased to announce Matt Jones as the winner of the 2020 Napier Waller Art Prize, for his work entitled Yarn.

The inspiration for the art work, made from yarn and recycled fabric, comes from 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,” Mr Jones said in his artist statement. “It’s time to pick up the loose threads and broken relationships, be they personal, societal or institutional.”

Mr Jones will receive a $10,000 cash prize, and his art work will be displayed at the Australian War Memorial and accessioned into the National Collection. He will also 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.

The work was selected from a short list of 17 Highly Commended entries. Memorial Director Mr Matt 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,” Mr Anderson said.

Deputy Director Innovation & Business Development at the University of Canberra, Ian Drayton, has been collaborating with the Australian Defence Force on the ADF Arts for Recovery, Resilience, Teamwork & Skills (ARRTS) program since 2015. A program designed to use creative arts to assist wounded, injured and ill Defence personnel.

“I am humbled by the wonderful artwork that has been submitted to the Napier Waller Arts prize since 2018 and the level of engagement with the Defence community. Our ongoing research indicates that engaging in the arts and creative activity provides lasting, positive mental health and wellbeing benefits for individuals as well as for the wider community.”

A panel of art professionals from the Australian War Memorial chose a shortlist of 31 works, from which a group of judges selected 17 as Highly Commended. The judges were: Mr Matt Anderson, Director of the Australian War Memorial; eX de Medici, former official war artist; Mr 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; Mr Gary Dawson, Vice President Strategy, Thales Australia; Ms Laura Webster, Head of Art, Australian War Memorial; and Mr Paul Flynn, Chief Executive Officer, Hospital Research Foundation.
The Napier Waller Art Prize is open exclusively to current and former Australian Defence Force personnel. It is held in partnership with the University of Canberra, Thales Australia, The Road Home, and the Department of Veterans' Affairs, with support from The Honourable Darren Chester MP.

The 17 Highly Commended works will be displayed in the Special Exhibitions Gallery from 25 September to 22 November 2020.

Voting for the People’s Choice Award will continue via the Memorial’s website until the exhibition closes.

CONTACT:   Media team   02 6243 4575          0409 600 038 


  • In its third year, the Napier Waller Art Prize has seen an almost 20 per cent increase in submissions.
  • The prize is open to former and current Australian Defence Force personnel. It celebrates artistic excellence, promotes the transformative power of art, and raises awareness of the experiences and talent of service personnel.
  • The prize is named in honour of Mervyn Napier Waller, an Australian artist and serviceman who was wounded during the fighting at Bullecourt in the First World War and had his right arm amputated as a result. During his convalescence, Waller learned to write and draw with his left hand, saying, “An artist draws with his head, not his hands.” Waller displayed remarkable ingenuity throughout his career and went on to create the mosaics and stained glass windows in the Hall of Memory at the Australian War Memorial.
  • Art works displayed at the Memorial reflect the resilience, imagination, skill and humour for which members of the Australian Defence Force are well regarded, and comment on the challenges and consequences of military service.
  • To see it, visitors can book a Galleries and Commemorative Area ticket through the Memorial website at, which includes access to both the 2020 Napier Waller Art Prize and Ink in the lines.

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