Portrait of a nursing worker wins the 2022 Napier Waller Art Prize

A painting depicting the struggle between being a mother and a service member has won a prestigious art award, administered by the Australian War Memorial.

Retired Major Anneke Jamieson won the 2022 Napier Waller Art Award for her photograph The Promise.

The Napier Waller Art Award is open to all current and former service members of the Australian Defense Force and aims to encourage artistic excellence, enhance the transformative power of creativity, and raise awareness of service personnel’s experiences and talents.

This year’s winning artwork of a maid in uniform breastfeeding her baby is now set to join the National War Memorial Collection.

In the artist’s statement, Ms. Jamieson said the show was an expression of her conflict between being a mother and being a serving member of the military.

“The mother in me can never make peace with the officer I wanted to be,” she said.

“I have always admired the leaders with whom I served – they give so much of themselves for their people. When our second and third children arrived, it was clear that I could not be the officer I wanted to be and the mother I needed to be.”

I give it to mothers who serve; For their sacrifices and conflicting hearts.

Ms. Jamieson said the maid in the photo wasn’t supposed to be her, but the work was inspired by her own experiences and those of others around her.

The painting is dedicated to all service members who are also mothers, and to their families.

Painting of a little boy.
Charlie by Andrew Littlejohn also touched on the sacrifices made by the families and children of defense personnel.(Supplied: Australian War Memorial)

“I’ve had incredible support from my husband and the military, but that hasn’t changed my ability to give myself. Nor have I seen friends manage conflict with grace and determination. My choice was difficult but clear, and ultimately, empowering,” she said.

“I dedicate it to the mothers who serve, to their sacrifices and conflicting hearts, and to the families who support them.”

“If you’re willing to look at it from a different angle, you can’t help but be better off”

Glen Braithwaite’s submission, Falling Flying Driving Drowning, an ink and bleach stencil drawn on canvas made from recycled commando comics and a tattered slouchy hat, was one of 14 highly praised works this year.

An ink and bleach painting of two falling figures.
“Bird’s Falling Diving Drowning” by Glen Braithwaite, who says the piece is a learning to overcome unconscious biases.(Supplied: Australian War Memorial)

Mounted on a 360-degree rotating arc that allows any part of the painting to be in the foreground, he said, it was an exploration of his “unclearly unconscious biases” surrounding post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) and military service.

“I have some unconscious biases — now conscious biases — about PTSD and PTSD because I was in operations, and I saw things, and my perspective on those things that I saw was ‘Okay, yeah, that was horrible,’ but I didn’t get rid of any trauma, and yet the The person standing next to me is in shock.”

“Their perspective, their history, what they grew up with, the cumulative effects of their upbringing, they all contribute to how they view the world.”

A man in a suit rotates and rotates the board.
Artist Glenn Braithwaite with his work Flying Falling Diving Drowning, mounted on a 360-degree rotating bracket.(ABC News: Chantelle El Khoury)

Mr. Braithwaite said that tearing up and merging both his first slouchy hat and the Commandos he read as a child represented his life experiences as the foundation on which he saw the world.

He said, “I suddenly realized that I needed to incorporate my history into the canvas. I am who I am because of the way I grew up and my experiences, and that’s how I ended up ripping and merging.”

He said he hoped anyone who saw the sinking diving bird would see an invitation to consider other perspectives and begin to examine unconscious biases they might have.

“Whatever they do, whatever the topic, by looking at something from a different perspective, it will give you a better understanding, or at least an appreciation or some sympathy for what you are looking for,” he said.

“If you’re willing to look at it from a different angle, you can’t help but be better off.”

This year’s nominees are ‘of a very high standard’

Acrylic plate of blood stains between two feet.
“Blood in My Shadow” by John Oliver, which was critically acclaimed at this year’s Napier Waller Art Award.(Supplied: Australian War Memorial)

The winning piece was chosen from a shortlist of 14 lauded entries, all of which will be on display in an exhibition at Parliament House through November 20.

The exhibition can also be viewed online, using 28 shortlisted submissions are eligible for the People’s Choice Award.

Topics explored through the brief works include mental health and trauma, the impact of relocation on children and families of service members, and current events surrounding the Australian military.

Laura Webster, Head of Art at the Australian War Memorial, said the shortlisted pieces were of high quality and represented a variety of art media.

“This year’s short cuts are of a very high standard,” she said.

“The winning work is so important because it tells the story of the women and mothers in the Australian Defense Force.”

The award is sponsored by the Hospital Research Foundation Group, the Department of Veterans Affairs and Thales Australia, and supported by the University of Canberra

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