Inaugural Napier Waller Art Prize for Defence artists officially launched

14 March 2018

Inaugural Napier Waller Art Prize for Defence artists officially launched

The Australian War Memorial, in partnership with Thales Australia and with support from the University of Canberra, today launched the inaugural Napier Waller Art Prize, the first ever national art prize offered exclusively to Defence personnel.

The $10,000 prize is open to all current and former Defence personnel. It aims to promote the healing potential of art for servicemen and servicewomen and to raise a broader awareness of the military experience and the impact of service on the individual.

Australian War Memorial Director Dr Brendan Nelson expressed his immense pride that the Memorial was able to work with a number of key stakeholders to develop such an important program for both the veteran and art communities.

“Art has been shown to play a critical role in the healing and recovery of returning service personnel. It is extremely important that veterans have an outlet for how they can process what they have seen, and what they have experienced,” Dr Nelson said.

“The Australian War Memorial is delighted to be a part of this initiative and will display the winning entry with enormous pride. We offer our sincere thanks to Thales Australia for their generous support of this initiative.”

Thales Australia CEO Chris Jenkins said he was proud to support this initiative of the Australian War Memorial and its aim to assist in the recovery of returned service men and women.

“The experiences of members of the Australian Defence Force are unique, and the Napier Waller Art Prize is an excellent way to honour, recognise and support our former and current personnel,” Mr Jenkins said.

Ian Drayton, Faculty Manager of the University of Canberra’s Faculty of Arts and Design, said it was an honour for the university to be involved.

“This is a natural progression from our work with the Australian Defence Force over the past four years on the Arts for Recovery, Resilience, Teamwork, and Skills project, providing creative arts workshops for current serving wounded, injured and ill Defence Force members,” Mr Drayton said.

“It also builds on some of the concepts I developed during my 2017 Churchill Fellowship, where I travelled to the UK and US researching the use of creative arts in aiding the recovery from combat-related post-traumatic stress disorder.”

The prize is named after artist Napier Waller, who was severely wounded while fighting at Bullecourt in the First World War, and later had his right arm amputated. Waller went on to design the artwork in the Memorial’s Hall of Memory and make a significant contribution to its art collection. 

The Napier Waller Art Prize will be adjudicated by a panel including renowned official war artist Ben Quilty. Along with the cash prize, the winning entry will be displayed at the Memorial and accessioned into the National Collection. The winner will also have the opportunity to be personally mentored by Mr Quilty.

Entries are open between June and July this year, and the winner will be announced in late September.

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