The winner of this year’s Waterhouse Natural Science Art Prize is Melbourne-based multidisciplinary artist Julia deVille, well known for her use of taxidermy to explore issues of mortality.

The Waterhouse Prize is Australia’s premier science art prize which invites artists to explore science and the environmental issues they believe important which face our planet today.

In her winning piece, Neapolitan Bonbonaparte, Julia evokes the free-range egg industry and raises questions about industrialised animal agriculture and what we, as consumers, know about what we’re eating.

The winner of the Emerging category is Dan Power, from the ACT, with his piece G(RAZED): Animals finely drawn on a bleached bull’s skull contrasts endangered native species with the stark reminder of drought, overgrazing and outdated land.

Winners receive:

Open Prize $30,000, sponsored by Fisher Jeffries, Barristers & Solicitors

Emerging Artist Prize $10,000, sponsored by the Hill Smith Gallery

Australia’s premier science art competition received a total of 627 entries: 422 in the Open section and 205 in the Emerging artist section.

The exhibition of 81 outstanding finalists selected by internationally recognised judges is open to the public on Friday, June 10.

The public can also vote on their favourite with the People’s Choice Dr Wendy Wickes Memoriam $5000 prize.

The Scientists’ Choice Award, sponsored by the Murray Darling Basin Authority, has also been introduced for scientists who are members of professional organisations. It too carries a $5000 prize.

An exhibition of the winners and the finalists that are highly commended will tour to the National Archives in Canberra later in the year.

Background

The prestigious Waterhouse Natural Science Art Prize started in 2002 and commemorates the birth of the South Australian Museum’s first curator, Frederick George Waterhouse.

The prize was reviewed last year, strengthening the link between art and science and opening the competition to a wider variety of art media. The competition is now divided into two categories: Open and Emerging; now includes digital and video art; and all artists are asked to explain how their art work reflects the intent of the prize.

To be eligible, the work needs to relate to the natural world and the sciences associated with it, such as biology, geology, astronomy, chemistry and physics. Works relating to natural history are also eligible.

The new Scientists’ Choice Award, in which members of any professional scientific society will be eligible to vote, will be announced towards the end of the exhibition along with The People’s Choice Dr Wendy Wickes Memoriam Prize.

Quotes attributable to Minister for the Arts Jack Snelling

The calibre and range of artists from all over Australia reflect the place this prize has among artists and the opportunity it presents to explore nature, scientific concepts and the important issues facing the world around us.

The history of art shows us that artists have the ability to reflect more broadly on the issues of the day. Science and nature are central to current debate about society, economy and sustainability which makes this competition particularly relevant.

Each time this exhibition is held, it’s fascinating to see how those issues are interpreted.

This exhibition gives us the chance to explore those ideas and question what is important to us.