The art of nature

The Waterhouse Natural Science Art Prize returns to the South Australian Museum in April with a rich and diverse survey of works that map the intersection of nature, science, and art.

Named after the South Australian Museum’s first curator, Frederick George Waterhouse, for over 20 years this biennial prize has invited artists to turn their gaze to the natural world, and this year’s finalists have delivered with work that spans disciplines and borders, from epic celestial canvases to salt-and-silk textile creations.

Finalists in the Open Prize category include Bruny Island-based artist Sophie Carnell, whose Tender Treasure comprises a suite of 26 sterling silver pieces capturing the rare and vulnerable plant species of her island home. Recalling the 2022 New South Wales floods, Harry Sherwin’s oil painting Altered Hawksbury offers a climate-impacted twist on familiar traditions of Australian landscape painting.

‘Eolian Saltation’, Charmain Hearder, Open Prize finalist

The shortlist also features new work from celebrated First Nations artists, including Nyunmiti Burton whose acrylic Seven Sisters Story tells a Tjukurpa (Creation Story) about the constellations of Pleiades and Orion, and Iluwanti Ken’s vivid black-and-white depiction of her father’s Country, Walawuru Ngunytju Kukaku Ananyi (Mother eagles going hunting).

South Australian Museum CEO Dr David Gaimster said this year’s finalists were part of a long and proud tradition.

Art can turn complex ideas and systems into moving experiences and give us new vocabularies to have the most important conversations of our time.

“Since 2003 the Waterhouse Natural Science Art Prize has been a key part of this picture, providing an important contemporary platform for creatives and practitioners across the art world to reflect on and respond to the natural world, biodiversity, and humanity’s impact.”

With a combined pool of $40,000 across Open Prize and Emerging category, winners will be announced on 12 April before the public unveiling of a major exhibition showcasing all shortlisted finalists. A $5,000 People’s Choice Prize will also be awarded by public vote at the exhibition’s conclusion on 10 June.

Waterhouse Natural Science Art Prize

Open daily, 12th of April – 12th of June 2024

South Australian Museum, Adelaide

Hero Image: ‘Nelumbo nucifera_ Lotus’, Nick Mount, Open Prize finalist

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