Nature's Beauty Adorns Winning Waterhouse Artwork

19 July 2013


Flight of Fancy by Judith Brown, Overall Winner, Waterhouse 2013.

An intricate lace cape from Lynton artist Judith Brown has won the $50,000 top award in this year’s Waterhouse Natural Science Art Prize.

Flight of Fancy (a cape), created with bulbs, leaves and paper, is inspired by nature’s beauty.

“Nature’s recurring seasons of growth, perfection, decline and renaissance are a gift to us all. The constant exchange of form and style in nature’s palette challenge the artist to create a canvas, rich with allusions and symbolism. Through the fragile complexities and nuances of delicate forms this piece is a celebration of her unadorned beauty,” says Judith Brown.

The judges said: “Judith Brown's Flight of Fancy is a creation of extraordinary delicacy and technical accomplishment. It participates in the European tradition of the protective mantle while employing non-precious Australian materials, the fragile coating of the disdained Watsonia bulb, leaves and paper. Invoking the cycle of nature and replete with allusion and symbolism, Flight of Fancy is a work of singular originality and rare beauty.”

Other winners are:

Paintings: Claudine Marzik (Smithfield, QLD) for her work Limestone belt Cairns West (acrylic on canvas). The judges said “The excavated passages of paint, probably achieved with a mechanical sander, reveals the artist’s mature knowledge of the behavior of materials – how much the surface can bear without ‘breaking’ and how a weathering process brings out underlying diversity and beauty. This is a very well-considered piece of painting, best seen in the flesh.”

Works on Paper: Young Soon Jin (Prospect, SA)for her work Enoki (pencil on paper). The judges said “Enoki impressed the judges because of its liveliness and the bold approach to the subject in terms of scale, control of the simple medium of pencil on paper and the poetic qualities of the work. The image conveys the strong sense of the artist’s close observation of these very small and complex mushrooms, which results in a ‘portrait’ of the subject with all its energy, individuality and idiosyncrasies. We feel that the artist let the subject dictate the decisions she made rather than imposing her idea of what the picture should be. This is the fascinating drawing that keeps the viewer engaged and curious, revealing something of the mushrooms as well as the skills and imagination of the artist.”

'Enoki' by Youngsoon Jin, Winner, Works on Paper, Waterhouse 2013.

'Enoki' by Youngsoon Jin, Winner, Works on Paper, Waterhouse 2013.

Sculpture: Nick Mount (Leabrook, SA)for Fruit Salad #090312 (blown Glass, olive branches and American oak). The judges said: “A masterful and elegant work. It incorporates timber and blown glass in a beautiful expression of form and colour.”

Youth prize: Llewelyn Ash (Sellicks Beach, SA) for Above and Below (glass). The judges said “Above and Below is a technically accomplished piece of glass work which demonstrates a conceptual rigour appropriate to the prize. It is a work which requires close observation as it both reveals and magnifies subtle aspects of our fragile marine environment, and references scientific instrumentation. The hourglass also reminds viewers of the ecological message of vigilance, embedded in the work. 

'Above and Below' by Llewelyn Ash, Winner, Youth, Waterhouse 2013.


'Above and Below' by Llewelyn Ash, Winner, Youth, Waterhouse 2013.


Top judges from the art and science worlds chose winners from a record 859 entries,submitted from across the globe in the Paintings, Works on Paper, Sculpture and Objects, and Youth categories. The finalist pool includes both world-renowned and emerging artists, from as far as the United States and Italy. 

One of Australia’s most prestigious art competitions, the Waterhouse is unique in its mission to encourage exploration of the sciences through high-calibre art.

The 2013 new-look competition has changed its name from “Waterhouse Natural History Art Prize” to better fit our mission to encourage creative exploration of the sciences. The South Australian Museum encouraged artists to do more to generate scientific debate, find dynamic ways to represent our research and contribute to artistic dialogue about the most pressing issues facing our planet.

South Australian Museum Acting Director and Scientist, Professor Andrew Lowe, has congratulated the winners and says their work is evidence of the essential role of the Waterhouse in both the arts and science worlds.

“As a scientist, I know that collaboration between art and science can create debate, greater understanding and has the potential to generate new knowledge and ideas that benefit both fields. It can open up new ways of interpreting the world around us through exploration, creativity and collaboration,” he says.

“The Waterhouse Natural Science Art Prize is, in my view, a harkening back to the humanist approach of the Renaissance period, which encouraged versatility and a desire to acquire universal learning in order to develop one’s full potential.”


A creative platform for innovation

The Waterhouse has contributed millions of dollars to the development of the arts in Australia. The touring exhibition of artworks not only delight and inspire audiences, but prompt engagement with ideas related to biology, palaeontology, chemistry and other fields, that might otherwise be reserved for specialists in each area.

South Australian Minister for Mineral Resources and Energy Tom Koutsantonis says the Waterhouse Prize is a reminder that science is a critical element that underpins the State’s economic growth.

“South Australia is fortunate to possess enormous resources wealth,” Mr Koutsantonis said.

“Science enables us to capitalise on the economic opportunities and jobs provided by the minerals and energy resources sector.

“Congratulations to all of the entrants and in particular the winners of this year’s Prize for reminding us of the meaning and potential of science.”

The Waterhouse is generously supported by key sponsors, who allow our talented artists the opportunity to use their boundless imagination in telling stories of the world around us.

Waterhouse People’s Choice Award supporter Fisher Jeffries says “We are enthusiastic about the merger of art and environment in order to develop community awareness of history and natural science. Sponsoring the Waterhouse People’s Choice Award is a great opportunity for us to assist in engaging members of the community in thinking about art and the natural sciences.”

Waterhouse Gala Evening supporter Beach Energy says “we have long been a supporter of the South Australian Museum’s Ediacaran Fossil Gallery, the Sprigg Lecture Series, the Out of the Glass Case schools outreach program and Fossil Fest, so it is fitting to extend this support to the Waterhouse Natural Science Art Prize. As an oil and gas exploration and production company, much of our operations are based on science.  Artistic expression of the environments which surround us is a unique and wonderful way to promote science.”


Two worlds unite to explore the new discoveries, mysteries and beauty of science

For the first time, the overall winner was selected by a top representative from each of the arts and science worlds. Renowned South Australian Artist James Darling says the Waterhouse Natural Science Art Prize an important fixture in the art world.

“The principles of science are based on critically evaluated evidence. Science underpins culture: how we see, how we value, how we understand. In their simplicity, clarity and resonance, the principles of science are akin to poetry,” he says.

“Many of the most well-known Australian art prizes have a limited, concentrated focus. The portraiture of the Archibald, or the landscape painting of the Fleurieu Art Prize, are two examples of high profile art prizes with specific and defined parameters.

“The Waterhouse Prize challenges artists to break down conventional barriers between art and science and assert the singular role of science in our lives, our world, our universe.”

Professor Andy Austin says the prize is important for scientists because they are able to see their research come to life. “It might be an orchid that has a particular shape to attract pollinators, the interaction between two organisms such as two moneys fighting or a mother and juvenile penguin; all of those aspects have an intrinsic scientific impact in them. The art is about the impact on the viewer.

“I think it’s the portrayal of an organism – a plant or an animal – that’s ‘alive’.”


About the Competition

The Waterhouse Natural Science Art Prize is open to all artists from Australia and overseas. It is an acquisitive prize: South Australian Museum retains the overall winning piece. Winners receive the following prize money:

  • Overall Winner $50,000 (acquisitive)
  • Category Winners $12,000
  • Youth Art Prize Winner $5,000
  • People's Choice Award $5,000
  • Dr Wendy Wickes Memoriam Prize $5,000

The exhibition of winners and finalists in the Waterhouse Natural Science Art Prize is shown each year at the South Australian Museum. It will run from 20 July to 8 September 2013. Winning and highly commended entries tour to the National Archives of Australia from September to November. 

 Waterhouse Natural Science Art Prize 2013 Sponsors.