THE Maritime Art Prize and Exhibition is a highly regarded competition that has been hosted at the heritage-listed building in Melbourne’s Docklands for 19 years.

Due to COVID-19 restrictions in Victoria, this year’s exhibition was hosted online, with the winning entries on display when the Mission re-opens to the public in early November.

In total, 80 artworks were shortlisted from a highly competitive field – including a greater number of interstate artists than previous years – all of whom responded to the theme The Relationship of Humanity to the Sea.

The judges said, “Humanity embraces the entire human race and displays unique human characteristics such as compassion, sympathy, kindness, and mercy.

“The relationship of humanity to the sea is a wonderful theme for an exhibition and as always artists took on the theme and gave their individual interpretations, providing a diverse and thought-provoking group of entries.”

The winner of the MSC Maritime Art Award, and recipient of $10,000 in prize money, was Laurel Foenander for her oil on canvas work Lest we Forget.

Laurel is a contemporary realist painter working in oils, with a passion for painting the natural world and highlighting the effects of our changing climate and its role on the depletion of species.

The judges said, “Laurel’s work provokes a range of emotions and interpretations. She has captured the beautiful and yet horrifying colours of the skies during the bushfires and the desperation of fleeing and not knowing when, or if, they could return.

“The boat is the life saver; the sea is a safe barrier; and the comradery of friends and family will always prevail. Lest we Forget captures humanity at its best during one of our worst moments.”

The winner of the Port Phillip Sea Pilots Best Traditional Maritime Art Award, and recipient of $5000 in prize money, was Debra Marshall for her pen on paper work Sea Forrest.

Debra is a Melbourne-based artist who is currently investigating landscape, and the intersection between the natural world and the man-made landscape.

The judges said, “Sea Forrest embraced the connection between nature and the man-made built environs. The natural, and inevitable, decay of the pier that is home for marine life was also once a pier for fishing and sea traffic.

“We found ourselves filling in the history and imagining it’s future. The work stands as a great example of change and growth.”

Debra Marshall, Sea Forrest, 2021 Pen on Paper

The winner of the Nevile & Co Runner-Up Award, and recipient of $2,000 in prize money, was Don Braben for his oil on board work Once Were Lifesavers.

Don is a fellow, vice president and foundation member of the Australian Society of Marine Artists. His marine paintings in oil and watercolour are in many private and public collections across the globe.

The judges said, “Don’s work conjured for us a strong sentiment of the fear, sorrow, waiting and loneliness that some people have been feeling during this pandemic.

Once Were Lifesavers speaks to our abandoned lives, abandoned seafarers, and how rescue is never too far away. Lifesavers are out there, at the ready to help us get our lives back on track.”

Don Braben, Once Were Lifesavers, 2021 Oil on Board

The winner of the Gulf Agency Company Emerging Artist Award, and recipient of $1000 in prize money, was Antoinette Inguanti for her acrylic on canvas work Men at Work.

As an amateur artist, Antoinette constantly explores different mediums and subjects, but always returns to the beauty of the sea that surrounds her and that is in her DNA.

The judges said, “Compositionally dynamic, Antoinette has portrayed the dangers of the pilots as they go about their daily work, whilst providing a view that celebrates the enormity of these ships.

“Her work is dynamic and certainly an artist to watch.”

Antionette Inguanti, Men at Work, 2021 Acrylic on Canvas

This year’s judges were Dr Graeme H. Williams OAM, Jane Scott and Paul Auckett.

Mission to Seafarers Melbourne CEO Sue Dight said, “The Maritime Art Awards and Exhibition have presented us with some interesting challenges again this year, due to COVID-19.

“Taking the exhibition online provides us with a global audience for the artists that have supported the Mission for so many years.

“Our role in supporting the seafarers is highlighted by providing the public with an understanding of the harsh and dangerous conditions that seafarers experience every day.

“Our immediate concern is for the thousands of crew members globally who are still stuck onboard without shore leave and, for some, abandoned a long way from home. Isolation harms us all and seafarers are suffering more than ever.

“Art inspires us to remember those who are working solidly to deliver our everyday items.”

The exhibition can be viewed online from 15 October to 14 November, 2021, at:

The VICT People’s Choice Award will be announced on Monday 15 November. You can place your vote at the link provided above.