Indigenous members receive national acclaim

August 18, 2020

Copyright Agency represents many Indigenous visual artists, both independent artists and those who belong to the more than 60 art centres with whom we work across Australia and the Torres Strait. A large number of our members have recently received honours at two major awards celebrating Indigenous art: the annual NATSIAA and the inaugural NIFA.

The Telstra National Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Art Awards (NATSIAA)

NATSIAA is Australia’s premier prize for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander artists, both emerging and established. The huge range of art forms submitted from around the country each year demonstrates the richness and diversity of Indigenous storytelling and contemporary artistic practice.

This year the grand prize went to Western Australian artist Ngarralja Tommy May, whose etching on metal and enamel paint, Wirrkanja (2020), won the $50,000 Telstra Art Award. May is a Copyright Agency member via Mangkaja Arts, and is pictured below wearing a specially-designed shirt from the Mangkaja x Gorman collection featuring his artwork.

He was over the moon with his NATSIAA win, saying: “Thank you mob in Darwin for this business. Thank you. At last. I feel proud. I’ve been trying all my life, all the time second, fourth, last, sometimes nothing. But I got it now, today. My days, my time this year, I’m the winner. At last.”

Telstra Art Award winner and Copyright Agency member Ngarralja Tommy May (Mangkaja Arts). Photo by Damian Kelly/MAGNT.

The other six categories in the NATSIAA each carried a $5,000 prize, and were awarded to:

  • Adrian Jangala Robertson for Yalpirakinu (2020) (Telstra General Painting Award)
  • Marrnyula Munuŋgurr for Muṉguymirri (2020) (Telstra Bark Painting Award)
  • Iluwanti Ken for Walawulu ngunytju kukaku ananyi (2020) (Telstra Works on Paper Award)
  • Jenna Lee for HIStory vessels (2020) (Wandjuk Marika 3D Memorial Award)
  • Siena Mayutu Wurmarri Stubbs for Shinkansen (2019) (Telstra Multimedia Award)
  • Cecilia Umbagai for Yoogu (2020) (Telstra Emerging Artist Award)

Robertson, Munuŋgurr and Ken are Copyright Agency members, while Lee was shortlisted for the John Fries Award in 2019. She has this in common with NATSIAA finalists and members Ryan Presley (2020) and Betty Muffler (2018). Almost 40 other members are among this year’s finalists:

  • Amala Groom
  • Angkaliya Curtis
  • Bessie Daylight
  • Betty Kuntiwa Pumani and Marina Pumani Brown
  • Billy Yunkurra Atkins
  • Cynthia Burke
  • Dallas Smythe
  • Deborah Wurrkidj
  • Dhuwarrwarr Marika
  • Doris Bush Nungarrayi
  • Ginger Wikilyiri
  • Illiam Nargoodah
  • Jimmy K Thaiday
  • Joanne Napangardi Wheeler
  • John Prince Siddon
  • Keith Stevens
  • Kent Morris
  • Leah Brady
  • Leah Umbagai
  • Mabel Juli
  • Mary Dhapalany
  • Mulkuṉ Wirrpanda
  • Nyunmiti Burton
  • Nyurpaya Kaika Burton
  • Paul Namarinjmak Nabulumo
  • Peter Mungkuri and Alec Baker
  • Raelene Kerinauia Lampuwatu
  • Rerrkirrwaŋa Munuŋgurr
  • Robert Fielding
  • Rosie Tarco King
  • Sammy Lyons
  • Sonia Kurarra
  • Tiger Yaltangki
  • Timo Hogan
  • Tjala Women’s Collaborative
  • Wawiriya Burton
  • Yalanba Waṉambi
  • Yukultji Napangati

All 65 finalists are exhibiting at the Museum and Art Gallery of the Northern Territory (MAGNT) in Darwin until 31 January 2021. In addition, MAGNT’S new virtual gallery is bringing the NATSIAA exhibition to the rest of the country for the first time ever. Visitors are invited to vote for their favourite artwork for the Telstra People’s Choice Award.

Ngarralja Tommy May, Wirrkanja (2020), etching on metal and enamel paint. Courtesy of Mangkaja Arts.

The National Indigenous Fashion Awards (NIFA)

Established to support the vibrant textile design industry in remote Indigenous communities, the NIFA acknowledges and applauds the innovation, creativity, diversity and ethics of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander artists, fashion designers, stylists, models, creative producers and artistic directors.

There were 33 nominees across six key award categories with a combined value of $60,000 (encompassing promotion, support and development opportunities, travel and cash). The six winners were announced at this year’s Darwin Aboriginal Art Fair (DAAF):

  • Peggy Griffiths (Cultural Adornment and Wearable Art Award)
  • Kieren Karritpul (Textile Design Award)
  • Maara Collective X Bula’bula Arts (Community Collaboration Award)
  • Ninti One (Environmental and Social Contribution Award)
  • Bede Tungutalum (Special Recognition Award)
  • Julie Shaw (Fashion Design Award)

Peggy Griffiths, Bula’bula Arts and Bede Tungutaalum are Copyright Agency members. Among the finalists were two fashion labels whose collections featured artwork licensed by Copyright Agency: Gorman (Mangkaja Arts) and Ngali (Warmun Art Centre). Other members among the finalists included:

  • Babbarra Women’s Centre
  • Design Within Country by Marnin Studio (Marninwarntikura Women’s Resource Centre)
  • Hopevale Arts and Cultural Centre
  • Ikuntji Artists
  • Jan Griffiths (Waringarri Aboriginal Arts)
  • Kaiela Arts
  • Lindsay Malay (Warmun Art Centre)
  • Rukaji Designs (Mangkaja Arts)
  • Selina Nadjowh (Injalak Arts Centre)
  • Tommy May, Sonia Kurarra, Daisy Japulija, Nada Rawlins and Lisa Uhl (Mangkaja Arts)

Our congratulations to all of the talented artists in this year’s NATSIAA and NIFA.

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