34th NATSIAA: Results announced for Prestigious Indigenous Art Award

Kulata Tjuta – Wati Kulunya tjukurpa (Many Spears - Young fella Story), by Anwar Young, Unrupa Rhonda Dick and Frank Young. Photograph: Merinda Campbell/Museum and Art Gallery of the Northern Territory 

Kulata Tjuta – Wati Kulunya tjukurpa (Many Spears - Young fella Story), by Anwar Young, Unrupa Rhonda Dick and Frank Young. Photograph: Merinda Campbell/Museum and Art Gallery of the Northern Territory 

The Telstra National Aboriginal and & Torres Strait Islander Art Awards (NATSIAA), run by the Museum and Art Gallery of the Northern Territory (MAGNT), is Australia’s most prestigious and longest running Indigenous art prize. The Art Prize was established in 1984, and has since become renowned for presenting a deeper understanding of Australian Indigenous culture.

This year, the overall prize was awarded to South Australian artists Anwar Young, Frank Young and Unrupa Rhonda Dick, for there collaborative work; Kulata Tjuta — Wati kulunypa tjukurpa (Many spears — Young fella story). This piece responds powerfully to the incarceration of young Aboriginal men in Australia.

 ‘We see many young men from remote communities becoming stuck in a cycle of reoffending and being locked up in juvenile detention centres, like Magill and Don Dale. We are concerned the whitefella way of locking people up isn’t working,’ said the artists. 

The Artists, and Anwar Young’s grandfather, Frank Young believe that these young men should be brought back to country to work with Senior Men, and help look after communities. The artists, along with many other young men from Amata have been working with their grandfathers on the Kulata Tjuta project, learning to make traditional kulata (spears). The kulata (spears) then form part of the final instillation, as they are suspended in a cell-like formation in the gallery, which also functions to protect a photograph of a young man who looks to the future.

The winning work was selected by the judging panel: independent curator Emily McDaniel, Director of Queensland Art Gallery and Gallery of Modern Art, Chris Saines, and artist Regina Wilson

Telstra NATSIAA finalists’ works will be exhibited at MAGNT from Saturday 12 August until Sunday 26 November, 2017. Visit www.magnt.net.au/natsiaa for details.