Presented biennially for works exploring the world of natural science, the Waterhouse offers a $30,000 prize in the open category and $10,000 for the winner of the emerging artist category.

It is open to artists of any age, nationality and experience working in any visual art media except photography, with the museum saying the prize “encourages artists to make a statement about the scientific issues facing our planet, and offers a valuable platform for them to contribute to the environmental debate”.

There was a 23 per cent increase from 2020 in the number of entries received this year, with the judges selecting the finalists from a field of almost 500.

The strong South Australian showing in the shortlist includes artists working across media such as glass, ceramics, sculpture, collage, painting and drawing. They include Rebecca McEwan, who won the 2020 Waterhouse Natural Science Art Prize emerging and people’s choice categories with her installation work 4000 Stories, featuring a striking chandelier made of tiny glass vessels containing honey gathered from beekeepers.

New South Wales artists Grayson Cooke and Emma Walker won the open category of the 2020 Waterhouse Natural Science Art Prize with Open Air, a multi-media project that incorporated different forms of aerial earth imaging and was set to the 2013 album Open by Australian band The Necks.

The 2022 prize winners will be announced at the SA Museum on June 2, after which all the finalists’ works will be on show in an exhibition running until August 7, with visitors also able to vote for the people’s choice award, which comes with a $5000 prize. All the shortlisted works can be viewed on the SA Museum website.

Some of the SA finalists in the 2022 Waterhouse Natural Science Art Prize:

Rebecca McEwan’s Desiderium (welcome home); domestic coir doormats, native Australian grasses collected from artist’s garden, beeswax, copper wire; open category.

Roger Buddle’s Fan Coral Triptych; etched and kiln-formed glass; open category.

Anne Harvey’s Leaf Litter; watercolour, pencil, linen thread, paper; open category.

Emma Young’s Prickly Pears; blown glass; open category.

Katie Keast’s Mangraves, Pillars and Parables; taxidermy (Australian forest raven), glass, leather, brass, white agate, polyurethane, wood, clay, salt; open category.

Peter Syndicas’s Early Life Forms; fossilised stromatolites; open category.

Jane Skeer’s Out of the Ashes #11; burnt, broken & smashed xanthorroea leaves from 2019/20 Kangaroo Island bushfires, burnt wool clips – remnants of KI historic shearing shed, burnt nails remnants of KI potato shed on paper; open category.

Chris Summer’s Biometry; charcoal and ink; open category.

Caitlin Lang’s Anthropocene; porcelain; emerging category.

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