2018 Waterhouse Natural Science Art Prize Winners Announced

08 June 2018

Erica Seccombe

Metamorphosis by Erica Seccombe

Open artist category:

CANBERRA artist, Erica Seccombe has been announced the winner of the 2018 Waterhouse Natural Science Art Prize with her video, Metamorphosis (main image).

Based in Canberra, Erica’s practice spans from traditional and photographic print media and since 2006 she has been an artist and resident teacher at the Australian National University’s Department of Applied Mathematics and Vizlab, National Computational Infrastructure.

Judges’ comments:

The winner of the Open section was the video work Metamorphosis by Erica Seccombe. In the unanimous view of the judging panel, Seccombe profoundly captured the spirit of the prize with a work that took as its foundation the ordinarily unseen intersection between science and art. Metamorphosis represents a deep collaboration between scientific and aesthetic enquiry, with the tools of one being instrumental to the realisation of the other. While at one level the video documents the metamorphosis of a pupating fly, from maggot to fully formed insect, at another it works to enlarge our understanding of the mysterious cycles of life itself.

Erica Seccombe says winning the prestigious Waterhouse prize for her work is significant and exciting.

“This work has resulted from my unique interdisciplinary collaborative research, which often stands outside of mainstream contemporary art practices, so to be recognised by my peers in this way is extremely rewarding and encouraging,” Ms Seccombe said.

“I am delighted that my work is seen to fulfill the Prize's intent, for artists to explore and investigate the world around them, and engage with natural science in ways that draw an audience in with curiosity and wonder.”

In her artist’s statement accompanying the work she says:

“Metamorphosis is a transformative, aesthetically beautiful time-lapse experience that provides a unique perspective of a virtual pupating fly. It is a result of Erica’s creative research into scientific visualisation of volumetric, or ‘virtual’ data acquired from 3D microcomputed X-ray tomography.” 


Emerging artist category:

Also hailing from the Canberra region, artist Hayley Lander has been named the winner of the Emerging artist category in the 2018 Waterhouse Natural Science Art Prize, with her piece The great forgetting.


The great forgetting

Judges’ comments:

The winner of the Emerging section was the work The great forgetting by Hayley Lander. The highly considered, painterly sophistication of Lander’s work impressed the judging panel, who felt it belied her relative inexperience. While an affecting and poignant study in natural history, at one level, the work employed compositional devices more familiar to traditional trompe l’oeil painting at another. The unexpectedly surrealist scaffolding and counter-weighting of its principal subject – eucalyptus leaves in various states of decay – made it a compelling choice.

Visual Arts graduate (Honours) Hayley Lander said that she had aspired to present her work in the Waterhouse Natural Science Art Prize for a long time.

“I am excited to represent the emerging artist category. ‘The great forgetting' articulates ideas that are very important to my practice”, she said.

“Delicate balances between the represented Eucalyptus specimens explore the fragility of our ecosystem as species move toward their tipping points of endurance.”

In her artist’s statement accompanying the work she says:

“The great forgetting' acts as a meditation on Eucalyptus species as a pivotal element in Australian history, shaping our identity and development as a country to this day.”

The Waterhouse Natural Science Art Prize is Australia’s premier natural science art prize and has this year attracted entries from outstanding artists from across Australia, with all states represented among the 84 finalists.

South Australian Museum Director, and one of the prize’s judges, Mr Brian Oldman says the Waterhouse prize forges a strong connection between art and science and this year’s calibre of artists reflects the place it holds nationally.

Other judges include Chris Saines, Director, Queensland Art Gallery and Gallery of Modern Arts and Angela Valamanesh, contemporary Australian artist.

Exhibition visitors can have their say and vote for their favourite artwork by submitting an entry form at the Museum by Sunday 22 July, with the winner receiving $5,000 in prize money, courtesy of the People’s Choice Dr Wendy Wickes Memoriam Prize. A further $5,000 will be awarded to an artist selected through the Scientists’ Choice Awards.

The exhibition of all finalists in the Waterhouse Natural Science Art Prize opens at the South Australian Museum on Friday, June 8 – August 5. The winners and highly commended works will then tour to the National Archives of Australia in Canberra, exhibited this year at their temporary home in Old Parliament House opening on Friday 23 August – 14 October.

To download winner/finalist images and artist info click here: https://www.dropbox.com/sh/ubk052c8e7pg944/AADmk88tqLCglQQuiF6rPcdYa?dl=0