Three New Records for Waterhouse

13 September 2012

The Waterhouse Natural History Art Prize™ - Australia's richest prize for natural history art - celebrates a stellar season of excellence in science and art.

More visitors bought tickets to the Waterhouse exhibition in 2012 than ever before in the event's ten-year history. The unique gallery exposed them to the important scientific messages behind the spectacular artworks on display. From Ediacaran fossils to marine pollution and miniscule insects, nature provided the inspiration for artists worldwide who entered. Our scientists, including palaeontologists, were even approached by painters and sculptors as they strove to understand and recreate their subjects accurately.

The prestigious prize also attracted a record number of entries this year with 840 artists submitting works. More than 13,200 people bought tickets to see the breathtaking paintings, sculptures and works on paper between 21 July and 9 September – nearly 2000 more than last year.

The Waterhouse also saw its first Aboriginal Australian artwork to win the overall $50,000 prize. Anatye (Bush Potato) by Margaret Loy Pula of Utopia, NT, was chosen from nearly 100 finalist works for the top gong.

2012 marked the tenth anniversary of the prize. Over its duration, artists from nearly 30 different countries, including the United Kingdom, Ecuador, Israel, Syria, France and Canada, have entered.

Waterhouse founder Mark Judd says "the South Australian Museum is thrilled with the unprecedented success of the 2012 Waterhouse. The high number of Australian and international visitors reflects the strong reputation of this prize and its ongoing role in merging high-calibre art with scientific content."

Winning and highly commended works will now go on tour to the National Archives in Canberra from 21 September to 11 November 2012.

South Australia can be proud to host this renowned art prize. Over its ten years, the Waterhouse has contributed more than $1 million to the arts and given emerging artists incredible opportunities to pursue their passion.

Federal Finance Minister Senator Penny Wong, who attended the opening night of this year's exhibition, said, "the Waterhouse is not just part of South Australia's art calendar, but an important event in the nation's. It is a fantastic vehicle for Australian artists to highlight the hidden beauty, complexity, and fragility they see in our natural world."

The exhibition certainly impressed thousands of viewers, not only for the high standard of diverse artworks, but for the myriad themes born from natural sciences.

"The natural world has been the subject of art for millennia, and judging by the vast number of entries in the prize, it remains a key source of creative inspiration." – Tracey Clement, Australian Art Guide

"My kids found it interesting. I did too!" – Boccelli Family, USA

"Fascinating, especially for an ecologist!" – Matthew Evans, UK

"Spectacular, will come back next year" – M&K Loffler, VIC

"Everyone should see this exhibition" – Mandy Lang, Oakbank, SA

"Striking, beautiful, poignant. I was delighted." – Sofia Pimenel, Portugal

"Intriguing, capturing & evocative. I'll come again this week. Needs more time!" – P. Hall, Aldinga Beach, SA

The success of the 2012 Waterhouse is indicative of its firm place in the nation's art calendar, and unique role in exposing and promoting sciences to adoring audiences of all ages, through creative means.


The Waterhouse Natural History Art Prize™ is supported by: Department of Environment, Water and Natural Resources; Fisher Jeffries; Department for Manufacturing, Innovation, Trade, Resources and Energy; Epicure Catering; Renniks Events; Pro Show Productions; Jurlique; James Squire; The Wedding & Flower Room; Angove Family Winemakers; Majestic Hotels; Haigh's Chocolates; Adelaide Airport Limited, The Adelaide Review; 891 ABC Adelaide; Lane Print & Post; National Archives of Australia.