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.