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Canberra Today 8°/10° | Monday, July 4, 2022 | Digital Edition | Crossword & Sudoku

Breastfeeding army officer portrait wins art prize

Anneke Jamieson with her winning work. Photo: Helen Musa

RETIRED major Anneke Jamieson, has won the 2022 Napier Waller Art Prize with her portrait, “The Promotion“, it was announced today (June 23) at Parliament House, where the exhibition  of 14 shortlisted works will be hanging until November.  

“The Promotion,” Napier Waller prizewinner

“The Promotion” is an acrylic and oil on canvas featuring a servicewoman in uniform breastfeeding her baby.

Jamieson, a mother of three, took inspiration from her own experiences, she told assembled media this morning, though the subject was not her.

The Napier Waller Art Prize is open to all current and former service personnel in the Australian Defence Force and Jamieson will receive a $10,000 cash prize and the portrait will be added into the Memorial’s National Collection, taking its place against shortlisted works from previous years.

Australian War Memorial director, Matt Anderson, also a member of the judging panel, told those present that the 14 shortlisted paintings, drawings, prints, photos and sculptures would be hanging in Parliament House alongside works by luminaries such as Albert Namatjira and Arthur Streeton because of the current construction going on at the memorial.

To him, the location of the memorial, directly facing Parliament House was a signal that decisions to enter conflict should not be taken lightly.

Jamieson, speaking to the media after the announcement, said she believed that creating the painting had been a way to process and validate her story in a way that “transcended therapy”.

Referring to the subject of her painting, she has written: “She is not me. She is the woman whose career came first. She has dedicated herself to her soldiers and her service and achieved so much. Yet now, as a new mother, she has returned from maternity leave changed in ways she never imagined; this promotion might be her greatest challenge yet”.

In her artist’s statement, Jamieson explains:

“The mother in me could never make peace with the officer I wanted to be… While pregnant with our first child I planned my return from maternity leave blind to the person I would become when promoted to mother… When our second and third children arrived, it was evident I couldn’t be both the officer I wanted to be and the mother I needed to be.”


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Ian Meikle, editor

Helen Musa

Helen Musa

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