Winners all round at the 2023 John Villiers Outback Art Prize


The Waltzing Matilda Centre, Winton




The John Villiers Trust Outback Art Prize

Year of grant:


The John Villiers Trust has committed to fund the John Villiers Outback Art Prize for a further three years, encouraging more artists to represent the uniqueness and beauty of rural, regional and remote communities.

March 2023

The 2023 John Villiers Outback Art Prize Exhibition launched on Saturday, 11 March, in Winton with an announcement of the winners of the iconic competition. Sue Smith won the Open exhibition category, Lili Jacobsen won the Emerging Youth category, and Diane Quick won the  Salon De Refuses digital exhibition category.

The John Villiers Trust (JVT) Director, Dr Cherrell Hirst AO, attended the event, which draws attention to and celebrates the wonders of the outback. Dr Hirst confirmed that JVT has committed $52,500 to help fund the John Villiers Outback Art Prize for a further three years. This new commitment brings the total amount JVT has granted to The Waltzing Matilda Centre since 2012 to $180,000.

“We are deeply aware of the value the John Villiers Outback Art Prize brings for Winton and the surrounding communities,” Dr Hirst said.  “This event not only highlights the beauty, uniqueness and experiences of our landscape and country communities, but now provides an important avenue for youth to visually share their experiences of outback Australia.”

JVT focuses on supporting children and youth in rural, regional and remote Queensland. Recent funding has enabled the art competition to introduce the Emerging Youth category and additional activities for young people, helping to ensure the creativity and voices of youth are given an outlet and an opportunity to be celebrated and recognised. It is hoped that JVT’s additional support enables Winton to continue to focus on the needs of children and youth in their community for another three years and beyond.

Making a difference

This year’s John Villiers Outback Art Prize has once again attracted artists from all over Australia to help tell the story of the outback. Sue Smith, Lili Jacobsen, and Diane Quick were announced the winners out of 43 finalists, shortlisted from a total of 256 entries. The work of all the finalists will be on display at the Outback Regional Gallery at the Waltzing Matilda Centre in Winton until 7 May 2023. Additionally, the images of the finalists’ artwork can be viewed online and audiences can vote for People’s Choice Award until Thursday 4 May. A secondary online exhibition ‘Salon De Refuses’, is also accessible online and to audiences at the gallery foyer. The galleries are available from

With over 5,000 people expected to attend the exhibition over the coming weeks, there is no doubt this event puts country Queensland, and Winton, deservedly in the spotlight.

Supporting young regional artists

Lili Jacobsen from Gubbi Gubbi (Kabi Kabi) country (Bundaberg) won the new Emerging Youth Category for her sculpture “Following Kangaroo Tracks”.

The piece depicts her journey as a young First Nations woman connecting with Country and practicing traditional animal tracking in the outback. 

The inclusion of the Emerging Youth Category gave Lili the opportunity to enter her first exhibition and realise her dream of being recognised as an artist.

“This is the first exhibition I have been in and it has catapulted me into what I have been manifesting as a career,” Lili said. 

“Through the John Villiers Outback Art Prize I have been recognised as an artist who uses the sculpting medium, which is not a conventional way for showing Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander art. 

“This is going to be the first of many great achievements for me, but one that I will hold really close to my heart. Thanks to everyone at The John Villiers Trust for making this possible for me.”

You can read more about Lili and her winning entry here.

Read more about JVT and the Waltzing Matilda Centre: