Particle physics art

The winners of the Waterhouse Natural Science Art Prize are announced!

The winners of Waterhouse Natural Science Art PrizeAustralia’s first biennial prize for art in the natural sciences, has been announced ahead of the finalists’ exhibition at the South Australian Museum, which opens tomorrow, Saturday 4 June.

South Australian artists Kyoko Hashimoto and Guy Keulemans won the open category award for their work Bioregional rings (central coast)a showcase of natural materials extracted from the same bioregion.

Another South Australian artist, Deb McKaywon the Emerging Artist Prize for his work Fragile forms – delicate porcelain sculptures that pay homage to the human body that evolves with age.

Having received nearly 500 entries from across Australia and overseas, and with 71 artists shortlisted, the award celebrates its 20e year with flying colors.

It commemorates the birth of the South Australian Museum’s first curator, Frederick George Waterhouse, and gives artists the opportunity to investigate the world around them.

Entrants are challenged to create artwork (excluding photography) that encapsulates their views on any science that studies the natural world, including but not limited to history science, biology, geology, astronomy, chemistry, physics, medicine, biochemistry and molecular biology.

“It’s fantastic to see an increase in entries for the competition, including so many incredible pieces that depict critical issues in our environment,” said Brian Oldman, director of the South Australian Museum and one of the prize judges.

“I hope viewers of the exhibition will leave with a feeling that is both artistically enriched and scientifically informed.”

Open Prize finalist, ghost trees, by James McGrath and Gary Sinclair, New South Wales. Created by visualizing and sonicating environmental datasets provided by environmental scientist Kim Calders.

Deb McKay– Fragile forms

Sculpted entirely by hand in porcelain, Deb McKay’s work is a study of movement, time and aging inspired, but not dictated, by natural forms.

The judges commented that “Deb McKay demonstrates extraordinary technical skill and meticulous attention to detail. The great diversity of natural forms evokes the complexity of life on Earth. The use of fragile porcelain as a creative medium is a metaphor for the fragility of the natural world that the artist describes.

Inspired by the concept of aging, McKay draws a parallel between the sense of deterioration she experiences as her body ages and the corrosion of the natural world.

“My work is imaginary and sometimes playful, but the inspiration is always nature,” she says. “Our world is fragile and deteriorating, often due to external forces and not just natural deterioration. I became a grandmother this year and I can’t help but ask this question: in the future, will my grandson only be able to see our natural world in glass boxes in the museum? »

The emerging artist award was $10,000 in cash.

Fragile forms details, by Deb McKay, South Australia. Porcelain, chandelier, wooden showcase

Kyoko Hashimoto and Guy Keulemans – Bioregional rings (central coast)

The stunning sculptural ensemble of Hashimoto and Keulemans is constructed from a wide range of natural and found materials from a narrowly defined bioregion.

“These materials range from geology formed millions of years ago to wood, natural sponges and marine plastic washed ashore,” the judges commented. “Their work allows this diversity of media to artistically speak for itself while illustrating the range of forms that can be found in the contemporary world.”

The couple worked outdoors searching for rocks and the remains of plants and animals on beaches, abandoned coal mines and other places on the central coast.

“COVID lockdowns really helped this process because we had more time to comb the Central Coast beaches,” they say. “Some of these pieces have been molded into specific shapes, while others have been kept natural to show off their incredible vibrancy.”

The duo had challenged themselves to design and manufacture materials from one location, instead of sourcing them from around the world, after deciding designers needed to work to be more sustainable by shortening chains global supplies.

“While the interconnectedness of global economies provides many favorable conditions for manufacturers, it is also easy to knowingly or unknowingly contribute to the destruction of the natural environment,” they say. “We want designers, artists and industry to think about their supply chains and the potential of the local and nearby natural world to provide production materials.”

Hashimoto and Keulemans will win a cash prize of $30,000.

A photograph of the bioregional rings (central coast) art.
Winner of the Open category, Bioregional rings (central coast), by Kyoko Hashimoto and Guy Keulemans, South Australia. Hawkesbury sandstone, charcoal, driftwood, pumice stone, sea sponge, fishing line, marine plastic, sand, neodymium magnet and sterling silver

See the work yourself!

The Waterhouse Natural Science Art Prize exhibition will run from June 4 to August 7 at the South Australian Museum.

Visitors to the exhibit can vote for the Dr. Wendy Wickes Memoriam People’s Choice Award, given to the finalist artist judged by visitors for having communicated the most meaningful scientific message in the spirit of the competition.

Winners and highly commended works will then be visited at the National Archives of Australia in Canberra.

Tickets are on sale now and you can see the full gallery of finalists here.

Picture of prickly pears blown glass sculptures
Open Prize finalist, Prickly pear, by Emma Young, South Australia. Blown glass
Image of artwork out of the ashes
Open Prize finalist, risen from the ashes, by Jane Skeer. Burnt, broken and crushed xanthorroea leaves from the 2019/20 Kangaroo Island bushfires, burnt woolen tongs – remnants of the historic KI shearing shed, remains of burnt nails from the KI potato shed on paper
Photograph of Copper Herbarium Copper Carvings

Open Prize finalist, The copper herbaria, by Jan Shaw, New South Wales. copper foil and copper wire