MORE than 500 artists from across Australia took part in the Pomonal-based WAMA Foundation's inaugural Art Prize, with just 40 finalists selected.
The selected works highlighted a multi-disciplinary range of talented artists engaged in the theme of art and nature.
The Works on Paper exhibition, showcasing the finalist pieces, launched on the weekend.
Overall, the WAMA Foundation awarded $25,000 worth of prizes.
The major acquisitive prize of $15,000 was awarded to Tasmanian artist Melissa Smith for her work Listen Deeply - Lake Sorell.
Three awards of excellence were awarded to Diane Fogwell for her work The Dead Tree Scroll - Silent Extinction, Janet Matthews' "Just flying through" - Red-Tailed Black cockatoos, and Juanita McLauchlan's Found.
Glenda Lewin, WAMA Foundation's patron, said she was thrilled with the winning artworks.
"The judges did a remarkable job of selecting some wonderful artworks that I believe the public are really going to enjoy." Ms Lewin said.
"The exhibition of finalists clearly demonstrates the quality and diversity of work entered was simply outstanding and this is a fantastic result given this is the first year of the prize."
The judging panel, Anne Virgo, Robert Nelson, Suzanne Davies and Jacky Healy, were greatly impressed by the diversity and manifest talent of the artists who submitted works and had a hard time whittling the list down to 40.
Jacky Healy, chair of the WAMA Foundation's Art Advisory Council, said the quality and number of artists who entered the prize showed how universal the themes were.
"The quality and number of artists who have entered the prize show the resonance that the theme of art and nature has within our creative community, their work reflecting the many environmental issues facing all of us," she said.
"The winning artworks reveal the range of artists engaged with nature and the environment; the superb printmaking skills of Melissa Smith conjures the sense of silence of the Tasmanian wilderness.
"Juanita McLauchlan's work on paper evokes the power of our First Nation's Peoples knowledge of Country.
"A burnt curtain rod is incorporated into Dianne Fogwell's artist's book on the devastating impact of bush fires on the environment.
"In contrast, the joy of the flight path of the red-tailed black cockatoos is captured through a pencil drawing by Janet Mathews.
The exhibition also invites the public to vote for their favourite artwork for the People's Choice Award, where the winning artist will receive $2500.
Voting is open until October 22, and results will be announced on October 25, 2021.
Located nearby the Grampians in Pomonal, WAMA is "creating a wildlife and art precinct that inspires, educates and stimulates our connection with nature".
"WAMA will boast a dedicated nature-inspired art gallery, set within botanic gardens and wetlands, that will nurture and protect rare species of plants and animals.
"WAMA will be a unique tourist destination that celebrates the relationship between, art, science and nature."
The WAMA Art Prize, Works on Paper exhibition of finalists is showing now at www.wama.net.au.
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