The 2018 Wild Awards major prize winners were
Gold to Patrick Hedges, silver to Darren Gilbert and bronze to Evan Neokli (click images to view)
Previous Wild Awards gold winners
The Artist of the Year award
The Artist of the Year Award’s purpose is to acknowledge, encourage and reward members for excellence and participation in WASA exhibitions.
The Artist of the Year award is decided by a point system accrued from each WASA display / exhibition in a 12 month period. Points are given at each exhibition for submitting an artwork, prize winners and usually the Most Popular artwork as chosen by the viewers.
The first award was presented in 2008 and was previously known as the Presidents Award. See below to read about the winners.
2018 WASA Artist of the Year – Rikki Fisher (MSA)
“Winning this award was a surprise, an honour and humbling all rolled into one.
The Wildlife Art Society of Australasia is an organization I have been involved with for many years and I have a lot of respect for what they do. To win the Artist of the Year Award was a real thrill. My only regret is that I now live interstate and cannot join in with their many activities.
As for me and my art, my subject matter on the whole, is wildlife. I started with Australian birdlife and after a trip to Africa I changed to African mammals and other exotic animals. In 2011 my art direction changed again when I discovered scratchboard.
Scratchboard has been very kind to me, putting me on the international art map in a way I never dreamed of. Having a strong drawing background meant changing to scratchboard was like a duck taking to water. In just three years, from starting as a beginner, I became a Master Scratchboard Artist with the International Society of Scratchboard Art.
Thanks WASA for this award and keep up all your good work.”
2017 WASA Artist of the Year – Janet Matthews
“It is such an honour to receive this award. This is my third time to have won Wildlife Artist of the Year, and each time it is a surprise and an honour to do so. There are so many aspects to achieve to earn this award. Firstly I needed to consistently enter the exhibitions throughout the year. This is always demanding to have the ‘right’ artworks available for each exhibition, especially if they have a theme or common subject.
Secondly, I needed to have artworks that were of an incredibly high standard, that would hopefully win the awards at each exhibition. It is challenging to compete with all mediums as some are very ‘strong’ styles. My work is in colour pencil and graphite and even though they are often powerful images, they have a gentleness and subtlety that isn’t often on the judges list of criteria.
Finally, being an individual with my work is so important to me. People can identify the drawings as mine, from both my techniques, style and subject matter. I like to have some quirky aspect to the work, whether it be the antics of the subjects, their expressions, their interaction in a very human way like how we chat to each other or it may be a different view of the subject – like my over and under water images. It is such a thrill to receive this award and all the respect it shows for me and my work.”
Janet is a Fellow of the Wildlife Art Society of Australasia and a Fellow of the Australian Guild of Realist Artists. She has a Diploma and a Graduate Diploma of Visual Arts, Monash University. Accolades include Juried Award, Focus on Nature 2014, New York State Museum (top 14 artworks);- Commissions by Australia Post for stamp images released 2006 & 2009; Artworks in the permanent collection of the New York State Museum USA, 2013 & 2011 WASA Artist of the Year 2013 – Winner Kenneth Jack Drawing Award, Australian Guild of Realist Artists.
2016 WASA Artist of the Year – Karin McKee
I feel very privileged to have received the award of Artist of the Year – it has been the highlight of my art career to date. As a recreational artist of only a few years I am thrilled at the achievement. I really enjoy inspiring others to pick up a brush, have a go, participate in activities and be included in the wonderfully supportive society that is WASA.
I paint what I love and hope that others enjoy my subject matter as much as I do! It does appear that I have an obsession for cats (of any shape or size, as long as they’re fluffy and cute!) I try to expand my wildlife knowledge by travelling and gaining inspiration from local cultures and countries around the world. A recent visit to some African National Parks has given me a better understanding of wildlife in its habitat, and how precious and endangered they have become. I hope to be able to share these experience and emotions through my artwork.
I don’t have a specialty medium and will give anything a go once! I quite enjoy scratchboard, ink and watercolour, pastel and coloured pencil.
I’m an active member of the International Society of Scratchboard Artists (ISSA), Australian Society of Coloured Pencil Artists (AUSCPA) and WASA.
2015 WASA Artist of the Year – Vida Pearson
What an honour once again to have the privilege of being chosen as Artist of the Year 2015 for the second year in a row. As a friend commented I still need one more to match Hawthorn’s record (apologies to those who are not football fans but this is Victoria and football is religion in this part of the world). I was extremely surprised last year to have achieved this award and even more so this year. Perhaps – as I have commented to friends – I might be doing something right!
I must say WASA and the exhibitions it organises are integral to my life as an artist – these exhibitions give me focus, inspiration and probably most importantly – deadlines! As every artist knows – one is never completely satisfied with what one is creating – there are always little improvements that one can fiddle with forever. I think sometimes this is because we become so attached to the artwork we don’t want to expose it to the outside world and give up something that we have nurtured and perhaps struggled with on a very personal level. I think this particularly applies to wildlife images as often we are very attached to the bird/animal/plant we are representing. I love depicting cockatoos and have created many images of these engaging birds since I attended Art School in the mid 80’s – but I have had many a frustrating moment when I feel I have not quite captured them as I want and I feel a responsibility to get it right (in my mind at least) Maybe it’s because I think art can have an influence on people and how they view the natural world – if we can make them care about what we have depicted – maybe it will engage them in the wider discussion on the demise of these precious things.
2014 WASA Artist of the Year – Vida Pearson
While photographing “hummers” (as the locals of New York City refer to hummingbirds) in Central Park, New York one of the dear winged friends decided to deposit a rather large amount of faecal matter upon my good self and camera. Alas it was not a Passenger Pigeon which excreted as they were slaughtered in their billions (no exaggeration) to complete extinction in 1914 when “Martha” the last Passenger Pigeon died in Cincinnati Zoo ( the last of the wild population is believed to have perished around 1900). Whatever species it may have been, it aroused much delight from a fellow birdwatcher who assured me that such an event was cause for celebration as it would lead to my having lots of good luck in the near future. Only being slightly superstitious I did not take him seriously.
However, to my surprise it seems he was right! That night, as I contemplated the endless line of yellow taxis on Sixth Avenue and tried to guess at the colour of that night’s Empire State Building lighting, I received a most unexpected email from the WASA President Kelvin Mather. I read it several times and then had others verify that I was not imagining what I was reading. I had been voted “Wildlife Artist of the Year” – how amazing was that!!! Really the icing on the cake of a terrific year for me – having been selected for “Birds in Art” in the US (after several attempts I finally got there) winning the Clarice Beckett Art Award amongst others and then being selected as one of the artists to be featured in “Inspiration Wild: An Artistic celebration of Nature and Environment” the first publication of the newly established Wildlife Art Museum of Australia Foundation.
It is an honour and to be honest I can’t actually imagine where my career would have gone without the influence of WASA. Being part of a group of like-minded creative people gives you faith in what you are doing – it most definitely has helped me define the subject matter that is most important to me and once I found that direction it has been the most pleasurable journey. How privileged I am to be able to combine my life-long love of nature, wild places and photography with my artistic endeavours. Winning prizes is not of course what one sets out to do but when it happens the smile is very broad indeed, especially when it comes from one’s peers in the wildlife artist community.
21 Rill Court. Haddon 3351 Victoria, Australia
2013 WASA Artist of the Year – Janet Matthews
“It is an honour and privilege to be awarded Wildlife Artist of the Year. By drawing our wonderful animals and birds, capturing their personality and humour, I inspire people to connect with nature. If people can smile at a wildlife artwork, then they are more likely to respect and help protect the wildlife around them. In this gentle and subtle way I hope to promote greater understanding and love of our natural world.
Coloured pencils and drawing have always been my passion. I cannot imagine life without a pencil in my hand, and I just love beautiful drawings.”
As a professional artist, Janet is sought after as a teacher, running specialised workshops in colour pencil all over Australia, as well as classes in Narre Warren, Victoria. She has a knack for making learning fun, meditative and informative. All levels of expertise are catered for.
Melbourne, Victoria, Australia
2012 WASA Artist of the Year – Kris Peter
In my chosen medium of watercolour there’s always something to learn and it’s usually a challenge. Who would think that a bit of water, some paint and a brush could provide so many possibilities.
My favourite subjects are birds and details of their feathers, as well as other ‘simple’ things from nature, such as leaves, shells, the bark of a tree trunk and the like. These simple things often display an unexpected complexity, and it’s the detail of this that appeals and intrigues me. The colours, texture, the deceptive subtle layering of tone and colour fusing — it all captures my imagination. The works of Raymond Harris-Ching and Alan Rawady inspire me.
Since 2010 I have served on the WASA council as Exhibition Director and e-newsletter editor. I am also a member of Victorian Artists Society and a Signatory member (fmr councillor) of the Australian Guild of Realist Artists.
Artwork: ’Jan Juc Rockpool’ watercolour
Located in Melbourne, Victoria, Australia
2011 WASA Artist of the Year – Patrick Hedges
I was absolutely staggered when I heard I had won this award. The quality of art produced by previous winners speaks for itself and other art that I had seen at some of the society’s shows had me in awe, so this award is something I will treasure dearly and not take lightly. My art is dominated by wildlife and I usually work in scratchboard or pastels, trying to develop the unique style that I call my own.
I have maintained an active passion for conservation both for wildlife and the environment in general, since wildlife cannot exist without a healthy environment. I seek out opportunities where my art can support conservation initiatives and have been fortunate enough to have had one of my exhibitions opened by Dr Jane Goodall, Dame of the British Empire and United Nations Messenger for Peace.
I know that what I do is a drop in the ocean, but I try. If each of us helps to conserve some natural corner of the globe, and if we try to inspire others to do the same, then the world will be a better place.
Artwork: ‘Old Man of Borneo’ scratchboard
Located in Adelaide, South Australia
2010 WASA Artist of the Year – Janet Matthews
Being awarded for my quiet, gentle and sensitive drawings is a huge honour and achievement.
I have chosen to work in graphite and colour pencil as I absolutely love the whole journey in pencil, from the sketching of the composition to the slow build up of layers of colour and detail.
Many of my works are very sensitive and delicate, yet powerful. My subjects are the animals and birds, mostly Australian but the real subject is the conversation and interaction between the birds, reflecting our own lives and peculiarities. I combine the graphite and colour pencil from both extremes, some with lots of colour and others predominantly greylead. Water and reflections, and the underwater world of the birds has been a recent fascination. Giving the interesting views of underwater with the platypus and ducks, a world many never experience, as well as the birds in flight, shares another new aspect on life around us.
Nature is such a magnificent inspiration and when partnered with the sensual and detailed medium of drawing is in my opinion, a perfect creation.
Janet is an experienced teacher, holding regular classes in her Narre Warren North Studio as well as workshops in Narre Warren North and throughout Australia. She accepts commissions on request, all in her unique style using colour pencil and graphite.
Artwork: ’Dance the Two Step, Lyrebird’ pencil