A portrait portraying the conflict between being a mother and an Army service member has won a prestigious art prize, run by the Australian War Memorial.
Retired major Anneke Jamieson won the 2022 Napier Waller Art Prize for her portrait titled The Promotion.
The Napier Waller Art Prize is open to all current and former service personnel in the Australian Defence Force, and is intended to encourage artistic excellence, promote the transformative power of creativity, and raise awareness of the experiences and talent of service personnel.
This year’s winning artwork of a servicewoman in uniform breastfeeding her child is now set to join the War Memorial’s national collection.
In her artist’s statement, Mrs Jamieson said The Promotion was an expression of her conflict between being a mother and being a service member in the Army.
“The mother in me could never make peace with the officer I wanted to be,” she said.
“While pregnant with our first child I planned my return from maternity leave, blind to the person I would become when promoted to mother.”
“I’ve always admired the leaders I’ve served with – they give so much of themselves for their people. When our second and third children arrived, it was evident I couldn’t be both the officer I wanted to be and the mother I needed to be.”
‘I dedicate her to the mothers that serve; to their sacrifices and conflicted hearts’
Mrs Jamieson said the servicewoman in the portrait was not meant to be her, but the work had been inspired by her own experiences and the experiences of others around her.
She dedicated the portrait to all service members who are also mothers, and to their families.
“I had incredible support from my husband and Army but it didn’t change my capacity to give of myself. Nor did watching friends manage the conflict with grace and determination. My choice was difficult but obvious and, in the end, empowering,” she said.
“But she is not me. She is the woman whose career came first. She has dedicated herself to her soldiers and her service and achieved so much. Yet now, as a new mother, she has returned from maternity leave changed in ways she never imagined; this promotion might be her greatest challenge yet.
“I dedicate her to the mothers that serve; to their sacrifices and conflicted hearts and to the families who support them.”