WAMA Art Prize goes to Victorian Artist

Martin King takes out major acquisitive prize, with Zena Compton, Johanna Weiss and Lizzie Horne also praised.

Words: Erin Irwin

The WAMA Art Prize has announced that Martin King has beat out more than 300 entrants to take home the $15,000 acquisitive prize. The biennial prize focuses on works that take a celebratory approach to the natural world, with the aim of raising awareness about the challenges faced by the Australian environment and advocating for its conservation. This year’s edition called for works on paper, and the judges Dr Vicki Couzens, Robert Nelson, Suzanne Davies and Dr Jacqueline Healy were particularly impressed with this edition’s submissions.

“This year we received a remarkable body of works” said judge and Chair of WAMA’s Art Advisory Council Dr Jacqueline Healy, “many of the works capture the fragility of nature in a world facing climate change as well as acknowledging nature’s inherent resilience and beauty. These works through contemplation of the natural environment reveal artists’ concerns about the future and inspire us all to care for our world”.

Martin King’s work, Tree of life, diary of lost souls in twenty volumes No 2, clearly made an impression. A leading Australian printmaker, King sought to explore the lasting impacts of colonialism on the landscape, bringing together past events and present experiences through the conduit of nature.

Three Awards of Excellence were also conferred by the judges. Zena Compton’s work utilised kopi (gypsum) from her Country to express her connection to the landscape, whilst Joanna Weiss’s piece responded to the regenerative powers of the Australian bush after a harsh bushfire season, and Lizzie Horne’s etching captured the innate beauty of lace monitors.

The prize’s exhibition is hosted by Ararat Gallery TAMA, in Ararat, which will feature the work of 50 finalists. Ararat Gallery TAMA’s Visual Arts Coordinator Katy Mitchell states that “we’re proud to back the WAMA Art Prize exhibition; this is a big milestone in our cultural program. It’s wonderful to share these artworks, celebrating the Australian natural environment, with the Ararat community and surrounds”.

The exhibition will be on show until November 19 both in person and online. Visitors to either iteration can vote for the prize’s People’s Choice Award which is still up for grabs, and will net the winner a $2,500 reward.

This article was posted 1 September 2023.

Image: Martin King, Tree of life, diary of lost souls in twenty volumes No 2, 2023. Etching, drypoint, polymer gravure and hard cover books, 125 x 115cm, unframed. Courtesy: the artist and WAMA Art Prize.

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