THE relationship of humanity to the sea is the theme of the 2020 Maritime Art Prize and Exhibition, an annual event organised by the Melbourne Mission to Seafarers.

A call for entries has gone out, with artists having until 31 August to submit their work.

Mission chief manager Sue Dight said the coronavirus pandemic made the event particularly relevant.

“This year’s Maritime Art Prize and Exhibition holds even greater significance due to the theme artists are asked to respond to the relationship of humanity to the sea,” Ms Dight said.

“More than 200,000 seafarers are currently stuck aboard their ships and now, more than ever, there is an urgent need to highlight their plight.


“Many have had no communication with their loved ones, others are stranded as the virus is either in their country, or there are no flights to transfer new crews to their ships,” she said.

“We look forward to the support of the shipping industry, the creative community, and friends of the Mission to ensure the continued success of this annual event.”

The Mission to Seafarers Maritime Art Prize and Exhibition is an international competition that has been hosted at the historic building in Flinders Street for the past eighteen years.

A call is out for entries into the Maritime Art Prize. Credit: Melbourne Mission

It is an important fundraiser for the Mission.

Last year the exhibition featured 90 finalists whose work was selected from more than 250 entries from as far afield as Germany, Spain, Bangladesh, Pakistan, the US and New Zealand. 

Entrants compete for a share of $20,000 in prize money across five categories – Maritime Art Award, Best Traditional, Runner-Up, Emerging Artist and People’s Choice Award.

Among the traditional beauty of oil paintings and watercolours of maritime subjects, artists have in recent years showed a move to include more contemporary works.

Key prizes:

  • $10,000 Maritime Art Award
  • $5,000 Best in Traditional Maritime Art Award
  • $1000 Emerging Artist Award
  • $2000 People’s Choice Award
  • $2000 Runner-Up Award

This year’s Judges include Graeme H. Williams OAM, an art collector and board member of the Lorne Sculpture Biennale 2020 and past curator of Melbourne Savage Club Art Prize. Other judges are to be confirmed.