It was a quiet one by NATSIAA standards (National Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Art Awards). The first suspicious sign was you could get a car park and then it was no trouble finding somewhere to sit. Everyone is blaming the GFC and downturn in tourism. Well you gotta blame someone. But as always there was a spectacular sunset, a warm and friendly atmosphere and lots of people ended up dancing – haven’t done that for a while. The bands, in fact, The Tjupi Band from Papunya and East Journey from Yirrikala stole the show. The exhibition this year is overwhelmingly traditional (not that there is anything wrong with that) but there seems to be an absence of emerging talents from the south in comparison with other years. Are they not entering? Anyway, one feels for the judges, Dr Danie Mellor, Judith Ryan and Nici Cumpston because there are so many great works its impossible to imagine how they could pick a winner. If the paparazzi were judging they might have gone for something like Archie Moore’s On a mission from God or Dinni’s chess set by Dinni Kunoth Kemarre – but they are not and don’t know what they are talking about. However, they do think that Telstra execs might take a back seat during the award ceremony and might also top up the prize money which is looking a bit parsimonious compared to other major wards these days. If you are in Darwin then the NATSIAA Award exhibition is a must at the Northern Territory Museum until it closes.
Video: East Journey
The Telstra Award was awarded to South Australian artist Dickie Minyintiri for Kanyalakutjina (Euro tracks) Born in Pilpirinyi in Western Australia, Dickie Minyintiri is one of the most senior Pitjantjatjara men alive today, endeared and revered by the whole community as one of the most significant and important artists from the region, a highly respected Ngangkari (traditional healer), and senior Law Man.
The Telstra General Painting Award Bobby West Tjupurrula from Kiwirrkura in Western Australia.
The Telstra Bark Painting Award Raelene Kerinauia from Melville Island in the Northern Territory for her work Kayimwagakimi Jilamara.
The Telstra Works on Paper Dennis Nona from Torres Strait for his work Zuga Zug.
The Wandjuk Marika Memorial Three-Dimensional Award, sponsored by Telstra, was awarded to 69-year-old Gali Yalkarriwuy Gurruwiwi from Elcho Island in Eastern Arnhem Land, for his work Banumbirr (Morning Star poles).
The Telstra New Media Award Ricardo Idagi from Murray Island in Queensland, for his work Upi mop le – Tail end man.