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Tropical Australian Mangroves painting wins $50,000 Waterhouse Prize
Ms King’s entry, High Tide, Wynnum, (synthetic polymer paint on canvas with collage of cut and torn papers) stood out among 101 finalists in the Prize, to attract the $50,000 top gong.

ADELAIDE.- The South Australian Museum announced talented Queensland painter Carole King as the overall winner in the South Australian Museum’s 2014 Waterhouse Natural Science Art Prize.

Ms King’s entry, High Tide, Wynnum, (synthetic polymer paint on canvas with collage of cut and torn papers) stood out among 101 finalists in the Prize, to attract the $50,000 top gong.

Judges said: “This painting works on many levels with aesthetic, scientific and conservation messages. The beautiful mangrove landscape looks perfect from afar, but on closer inspection there is more happening. The inclusion of torn and cut paper, words and images, suggests the imposition of urban elements in a natural environment. There is a sense of the paper taking over, a reference to the sad inevitability of ecosystems being cleared.”

Ms King was born in Newcastle, NSW, and lived in Sydney, Melbourne, the United Kingdom and Italy before settling in Queensland. Whilst living in London she had her first solo exhibition at the Court Gallery, Hampton Court. With a natural attraction to the forms and colours of mangroves in Australia, Ms King loves exploring Queensland habitats and has been painting them for 15 years. She said, “Having an international prize (the Waterhouse) encourages artists world-wide to look at their country’s ecosystems; to gain an understanding of how precious and vulnerable these special areas are.”

“The mangrove (habitat) is in itself a layered and textural community. Whenever I go to the Wynnum Boardwalk, another layer is revealed (this is an inter-tidal area) so for me collage was the way to go.”

South Australian Minister for the Arts the Hon Jack Snelling MP said, "The Department of State Development is proud to sponsor the Waterhouse Art Prize. Now in its 12th year, this annual competition inspires and engages a new generation of people to admire the wonders of scientific discovery and exploration as it celebrates and encourages excellence in the art of natural history and reminds us of the potential science has here in Australia and around the world.”

South Australian Museum Director Mr Brian Oldman presented awards to the winners at the South Australian Museum on Thursday, 24 July. He said, ‘The Waterhouse Natural Science Art Prize has a unique position in Australia’s exhibition calendar. It is an opportunity for art and scientific observation to combine in a totally original way.

“This year’s exhibition is one of the strongest we have seen. This is a compelling display of science seen through the lens of the artist.”

The winner of the Paintings category prize, Richard Dunlop, is a previous Waterhouse category winner. His painting The Path of the Eel impressed the judges:

“This is a painting of discovery, both in its exploration of a natural theme and in its layering of paints and glazes. The swirl of the eel draws the eye and keeps it moving through the painting. Going beyond straightforward depiction, this Romantic investigation of natural science is a powerful image with reference to the concept of Australian landscape painting.”

The winner of the Works on Paper category was Pamela French (Cobbitty, NSW) for her piece, Studies from the shelf II. Ms French is heavily connected to the land at Cumberland Wood Plains, NSW, and says “Collecting interesting objects that are around me from the bush, by the ocean is a passion of mine... Examining things under the microscope and sometimes even dissecting them and looking at the intricate structure. And then I marvel at it all, it’s just incredible.”

Judges said: “This work captures the essence of the natural world, while retaining a strong sense of the artist’s personal response to this collection. The use of system cards provides a firm structure to the work that also reminds us of the time-honoured methods of collecting and classifying natural specimens.”

Sculpture and Objects winner Harriet Schwarzrock (Queanbeyan, NSW) impressed judges with her work, breathe:

“This is an evocative piece with breath at its core; literally as its subject and form, but also in its creation as blown glass. It has a fluid form with beauty in its inferred movement, yet its solid base tells us that it is grounded and strong. There is a desire in science to label everything, and in this case the air itself has been labelled as an object.”

In the Youth Prize, Lyndoch, SA entrant Jennifer Ahrens won the top gong for her work Heartwood #7 (oil paint on glass casting its own shadow). Judges said:

“The delicate pattern of the deteriorating tree has been captured to striking visual effect, evoking the universal qualities of nature. The work has achieved a delightful ambiguity of the present and a sense of timelessness.”

Each category winner receives a $12,000 prize, while the Youth Art Prize Winner receives $5,000. The South Australian Museum also awards the People’s Choice and Dr Wendy Wickes Memoriam Prizes, (both $5,000), based on the votes of our visitors to the Waterhouse exhibition.

The 2014 Waterhouse Natural Science Art Prize will be shown at the South Australian Museum from Saturday 26 July until Sunday 7 September 2014. An exhibition of prizewinning and highly commended works will be shown at the National Archives of Australia in Canberra from Friday 26 September until Sunday 9 November 2014.

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