The nation’s most prestigious and longest running Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander art awards, the ‘Telstra National Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Art Awards’ has just announced it’s annual winners. Taking the title this year is Western Australia artist, Ngarralja [Nga – ral – ja] Tommy May, he has been announced as the major Telstra Art Award Winner receiving a $50,000 cash prize.
Mr Tommy May is a Wangkajunga and Walmajarri man, who was born in Yarrkurnja, in the Great Sandy Desert. ‘Wirrkanja 2020′ is the winning piece that has been selected from 65 exceptional finalist works. Mr May, who is now based in Fitzroy Crossing, has said, “This is about my Country. There is a clay pan, near to Kurtal. It’s also called Helena Springs, a well on the Canning Stock Route”.
Mr May’s entry was praised by the well experienced judging panel, including Director of Injalak Arts Donna Nadjamerrek, Darwin based visual artist Karen Mills, and Curator of Araluen Arts Centre Stephen Williamson. The judges noted…
“With an artistic career spanning more than three decades, Ngarralja Tommy May’s triumphant artwork symbolises the artist at the height of his creative powers. This work announces itself with exquisite beauty and power in the signature style Mr May has pioneered in recent years.”
The Telstra National Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Art Awards exhibition captures the attention of the nation. It offers an inspiring showcase of work from emerging and established artists that showcases the very best Australian Indigenous contemporary art from around the country. Each year the exhibition sees such an immediate increase in the variety of art forms and media, collectively demonstrating the richness and diversity of current contemporary Indigenous artistic practices.
Mr May said, “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.”
“This work is ‘Wirrkanja’, it’s the country where I lost my brother, its jilji (sand dune) country and flat country. Theres a jila there (living spring waterhole). It’s not far from Kurtal, over two sand dunes. It’s in flood time, the water runs down the jilji (sand dunes). This is my country and my family’s country. This is my job, it’s a good job.”Ngarralja Tommy may
Mr May was a past executive for 21 years on the Arnhem, Northern and Kimberley Artists (ANKA) Board of Directors. “I warmly congratulate respected artist Tommy May for his well-deserved accolade for Wirrkanja 2020. While this year has been unsettling, the dedication of these talented winners and finalists to share place, personal experiences and culture remains manifestly strong. MAGNT is elated to connect the winners and finalists with audiences,” said MAGNT Director Marcus Schutenko.
The Chief Executive Officer of Telstra, Andrew Penn said, “I would like to congratulate Ngarralja Tommy May for his wonderful work and all of this year’s winners and finalists. Once again the quality and diversity of entries is exceptional. In a year that is far from normal, together with the MAGNT, we’re pleased to announce we’ve created a virtual gallery for the exhibition so that everyone in Australia, and around the world, can experience these wonderful artworks online and for the artists to receive the recognition they truly deserve.”
Some other Telstra Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Art Awards went to:
- “Telstra General Painting Award”: Adrian Jangala ROBERTSON, resides Alice Springs, NT, ‘Yalpirakinu 2020‘, synthetic polymer paint
- “Telstra Bark Painting Award”: Marrnyula MUNUŊGURR ,resides Yirrkala, NT, ‘Muṉguymirri 2020′, earth pigments on Stringybark
- “Telstra Works on Paper Award”: Iluwanti KEN, resides Amata, SA, ‘Walawulu ngunytju kukaku ananyi (Mother eagles going hunting) 2020’, ink on paper
Watch the 2020 Telstra NATSIAA Awards Ceremony today and visit the virtual gallery. Both can be viewed online at natsiaa.com.au.