Matt takes out the $10,000 Napier Waller art prize

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Matt Jones, ‘Yarn’, 2020, yarn, recycled waste fabric.

MATT Jones has won the $10,000 Napier Waller art prize, for his flag-inspired artwork “Yarn”, it was announced by the Australian War Memorial last night (September 24).

The inspiration for the art work, made from yarn and recycled fabric, comes from the blue and yellow maritime signal flag, Kilo, which has the meaning, “I want to communicate with you”.

“The act of making this oversized signal flag is a declaration that I wish to leave the messiness of the past behind me,” Jones said in his artist statement.

“It’s time to pick up the loose threads and broken relationships, be they personal, societal or institutional.”

As well as the cash prize, his winning art work will be displayed at the Australian War Memorial and accessioned into the national collection. He will also receive a two-week research residency in the Art section of the Memorial, and a mentoring day with Canberra artist eX de Medici, former official war artist to the Solomon Islands.

A panel of art professionals from the Australian War Memorial chose a shortlist of 31 works from which a group of judges, including NGA director Nick Mitzevich, chose 17 as highly commended.


The prize, named for WWI artist and serviceman Mervyn Napier Waller, is now in its third year and is open exclusively to current and former Australian Defence Force personnel and is held in partnership with the University of Canberra, Thales Australia, The Road Home, and the Department of Veterans’ Affairs.

Memorial director Matt Anderson said, “The Napier Waller Art Prize does not have a theme, so entrants explored any idea or experience that was important to them. We were struck by the diversity of stories relating both to service, and to everyday life – from recent experiences of social isolation, to the beauty of the natural world, love for family, and recovery from trauma.”

Deputy director innovation & business development at the University of Canberra, Ian Drayton, who has been collaborating with the ADF “Arts for Recovery, Resilience, Teamwork & Skills” (ARRTS) program since 2015, said, “Our ongoing research indicates that engaging in the arts and creative activity provides lasting, positive mental health and wellbeing benefits for individuals as well as for the wider community”.

The 17 highly commended works will be displayed in the Special Exhibitions Gallery until November 22, bookings here and voting for the People’s Choice Award is now open.

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Helen Musa
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