The Mission to Seafarers’ Maritime Art Prize & Exhibition is an international competition that has been hosted at the heritage-listed Mission building in Melbourne’s Docklands for nineteen years and is returning once again in 2021. The theme ‘Humanity and the Sea’ is even more relevant this year than most.

Last year more than 200 entries were received and 107 were shortlisted from a highly competitive field – including a greater number of emerging artists than previous years – all of whom responded to the theme ‘The Relationship of Humanity to the Sea’.  The jury were impressed with the high standard and diversity of entries, ranging from traditional to contemporary mixed media.

Entrants compete in five categories – Maritime Art Award, Best Traditional, Runner-Up, Emerging Artist and People’s Choice Award.

$10,000            Maritime Art Award
$5,000              Best in Traditional Maritime Art Award

$1,000              Emerging Artist Award
$2,000              People’s Choice Award
$2,000              Runner-Up Award

This year’s judges will be announced in due course.

The annual event is a major fundraising initiative of the Mission to Seafarers Victoria (MtSV). Australia relies on shipping and seafarers to connect to the world and to bring goods to our homes for the economy to thrive, and for the health of our island nation. MtSV provides welfare services to support the tireless work and hardships faced by those seafarers. The generosity of our sponsors who provide the prize money and other in-kind contributions, and the artists who pay an entrance fee and a commission on all works that are sold, ensures the continued success and wide popularity of the Maritime Art Prize & Exhibition and in turn, supports those seafarers. Due to the global pandemic, we are needed now more than ever.

The Mission to Seafarers building is an enchanting and iconic building in Melbourne’s Docklands. Open daily to the public, it is well worth a visit any time of the year, and particularly to see the Maritime Art Prize & Exhibition which is displayed throughout the public areas of the building, including the Norla Dome.

Entries Open: Saturday 1st May to Sunday 29th August 5pm
Exhibition Opening Night and Awards Ceremony: Thursday 30th September
Exhibition Open: Friday 1st to Sunday 17th October 12pm-8pm

Enter Online HERE

Entry forms are best online – but you can download a copy 2021 Entry Form Hard Copy Maritime Art Prize here

2021 Art Prize T&Cs

2020 Maritime Art Prize Winners and Sponsors

Maritime Art Award 2020 – $10,000 

Rodney Forbes ‘A submariner dreams of home.’  Oil on Canvas 

Rodney Forbes is fascinated by how people tell stories. His vibrant paintings address deeply poignant subject matter through dreamlike and surreal imagery. Figures and objects float against his trademark palette of bright, luminous colours, drawing the viewer in to explore a rich narrative. Drawing on both autobiographical and historical events, Forbes has the masterful ability to portray sometimes dark and challenging subject matter through vibrant, cartoon-like imagery, resulting in deeply engaging works that invite extended contemplation. 

Judges’ Comments: Chair of Judges Dr. Graeme H. Williams OAM 

This year’s judging resulted in the main award going to an established artist, however it was far from clear cut due to the high standard of entries and their different approaches to the theme.  The winner, Rodney Forbes, first submitted for the Award in 2016 and his works have always demanded attention.  It was felt that his work not only captured the essence of the theme ‘The Relationship of Humanity to the Sea’ but was particularly pertinent that it was based on the lot of a submariner considering the whole of Melbourne is in lockdown with a pandemic, similarly without contact with loved ones.  Forbes is a master of irony and there are many layers embedded in this work, making it a worthy response to the theme. 

‘Gulf Agency’ Best Traditional Maritime Art Award – $5,000 

John Woodland ‘Tooronga and Changte  Watercolour on Paper 

John Woodland is a Fellow of The Royal Art Society of NSW, Fellow of Australian Society of Marine Artists, Member Australian Watercolour Institute and Professional Member International Society of Marine Painters 

Judges’ Comments: Ms. Catherine De Boer; Artist, Designer & Educator.  

A softly nuanced, big impact painting, with a restful colour palette and the calm of reflective waters. 

Emerging Artist Award – $1,000  

Benedict Sibley ‘All Men will be Sailors’  Willow Charcoal on Arches Paper 

Benedict Sibley recently completed a Master of Contemporary Art in 2018 at VCA. Based in Melbourne, Sibley works mainly in charcoal and explores themes surrounding migration, the environment and inclusivity.

Judges’ Comments: Ms. Catherine De Boer; Artist, Designer & Educator.  

A thoughtprovoking environmental portrait of refugee and award-winning novelist Behrouz Boochani. 


VICT Peoples Choice Award – $1,000  

Amber Simon – ‘Burnie Locals

Acrylic on Canvas

This work depicts a sculpture that is located by the sea in the coastal town of Burnie, Tasmania. It explores themes of identity through the connection the artist has with certain locations and how they make her feel.


Nevile & Co Runners Up Award – $2,000 

Equal placings went to highly skilled and beautifully rendered artworks reflecting contemporary themes of the self, and in living with plastics in our daily lives. 

Joint Winner:

Mark Seabrook ‘The Catch (1938)’  Oil on Canvas 

Mark Seabrook is a Melbourne-based painter and designer. His Art History degree informs much of his work, along with liberal doses of pop culture, absurdism and humour.


Joint Winner:  

Orlando Durades ValdorGet lost to find yourself’  Acrylic on Linen 

Originally from Cuba, Melbourne based visual artist Orlando Durades Valdor has been honing his skills in geometric abstraction for the past twelve years, presenting a very unique and vibrant style.