Napier Waller Art Prize 2019

  • Exhibition time
  • Exhibition location
    Located on the Ground Level

The Memorial’s annual Napier Waller Art Prize, in partnership with University of Canberra, Thales Australia, The Road Home, and the Department of Veterans Affairs, aims to promote artistic excellence and the healing potential of art, while raising a broader awareness of the military experience and the impact of service on the individual. Open to former and current Australian Defence Force personnel, it is currently the only prize of its kind with a national focus.

This exhibition presents the winning work, alongside those entries judged highly commended by the panel. Together, the artists whose work is displayed here represent more than 100 years of military service, from the Vietnam War to present.

Natalie Duncan wins the prestigious Napier Waller Art Prize for 2019

The Australian War Memorial is pleased to announce Natalie Duncan as the winner of the 2019 Napier Waller Art Prize, for her work entitled You are in danger and I am far away.

Ms Duncan receives a $10,000 cash prize and her work will be accessioned into the National Collection. She 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.

You are in danger and I am far away

You are in danger and I am far away
Natalie Duncan, 2019 

Medium: Ceramic, decals, gold lustre, glaze, underglaze, enamels, copper, glass beads
Dimensions: 130 cm x 55 cm x 55 cm

Artist statement

The title of this work comes from a letter written by war artist Hilda Rix Nicholas. It is achingly beautiful. It is to her husband at war. Her works were offered to the Australian War Memorial in the 1920s, but were rejected on the basis that they were too personal. I understand Hilda’s work. As I make this “too personal” work, I find myself in a somewhat unique position; an artist and a veteran, wife of a navy clearance diver and sister to one as well. I remember Afghanistan, the tired young heads resting in hands and shaky voices calling home. I ignore the mental pictures of my husband disposing of bombs overseas. And I know what waits in the dark for too many of our people, when they are alone. They all inspire me.

However, nothing has prepared me for my own child now joining the army. I feel an irrational sense of dread and pride. Rage that anyone could think there was any war worth risking him in, and fury at those who would not appreciate the gift of my child; willing, if this country asks, to give his life for you and yours. It is too personal.

Napier Waller voting

People's Choice Award

Online exhibition and voting

The online exhibition presents a shortlist of 26 works from this years’ entries, selected by a panel of art professionals from the Australian War Memorial. All shortlisted artists are eligible for the People’s Choice Award, a cash prize of $5,000.

Natalie Duncan accepting the 2019 Napier Waller Art Prize

'She explodes with my frustration, and my pride, and my rage'


Artist Natalie Duncan pours her heart and soul into her work. Things that she could never say in person, she paints onto large ceramic vessels which she creates as a way of expressing her thoughts and feelings about her family’s military service.

2018 Napier Waller exhibition

About the Napier Waller Art Prize

The Napier Waller Art Prize program aims to promote artistic excellence and the healing potential of art, while raising a broader awareness of the military experience and the impact of service on the individual. 

Looking at the art works in the exhibition

Napier Waller Art Prize curator-led tours

Free public talk
Mezzanine, Anzac Hall

Join art curators for a tour of the Napier Waller Art Prize exhibition, including the winning entry and those highly commended.

Green on blue

Napier Waller Art Prize 2018

The Napier Waller Art Prize attracted over 100 entries in its first year. The online exhibition of 35 shortlisted artworks showcases the diversity and talent of former and current Defence personnel.

Napier Waller

Napier Waller


In May 1917 at Bullecourt Napier Waller lost his right arm. During his convalescence, he learned to write and draw with his left hand: “an artist draws with his head, not his hands,” he said. In 1937, Waller was chosen to create the decorative elements in the Hall of Memory, and began designing the stained-glass windows, which were installed at the Australian War Memorial from 1947 to 1950.