10 August – 3 November 2019

2019 Winners of the Telstra National Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Art Awards

Telstra Art Award


Yolŋu Matha language
Yilpara, NT

Journey to America 2018

natural pigments on stringybark
276 x 110 cm

Judges' comments

This masterwork by a senior Yolŋu man manifests tremendous spirit, power and energy. The scale is remarkable, and Djambawa Marawili’s virtuosic use of natural materials and intricate and complex brushwork, honed over decades of dedicated practice, creates dynamic flows and movement across this immense bark. The personal narrative within the work articulates his leading role in sharing Yolŋu philosophy with the world.

Wandjuk Marika Memorial 3D Award (Sponsored by Telstra)


Yolŋu Matha language
Nhulunbuy, NT

Rainbows in the lilies 2018

natural pigments on hollow stringybark 
293 x 80 x 80 cm (overall)

Judges' comments

These commanding Larrakitj create the shimmering effects of the Rainbow Serpent at Garrimala. As one the most prolific artists from Yirrkala, Gumana is a foremost exponent of marwat (crosshatching) technique using a finely controlled hairbrush. Her exquisite painting depicts her mother’s Galpu clan designs of dhatam (waterlilies) and djari (rainbow) while the scale and scope declares her deep immersion in these powerful stories.

Telstra General Painting Award 


Yankunytjatjara language
Indulkana, SA

Seven Sistas 2018

water-based enamel on SA tourist attraction road sign
75 x 270 cm

Judges' comments

In this irreverent interpretation of the Kungkarangkalpa (Seven Sisters) Tjukurpa (Dreaming), Kaylene Whiskey invents and casts her own heroic women onto an imaginary stage within her community at Indulkana. By reclaiming televised pop culture idols she celebrates female empowerment and sisterhood by creating an exuberant drama and in a playful twist superimposes the scene onto a repurposed tourism road sign. Connecting generations and cultures, Kaylene paints her Tjukurpa to a loud soundtrack of classic rock, pop, and country music.

Telstra Multimedia Award

Gutiŋarra YUNUPIŊU

Yolŋu sign language (Clan language - Dhuwalandja)
Yirrkala, NT

Gurrutu’mi Mala - My connections 2019

digital film

Judges' comments

This is an exciting and inspirational multimedia work that tells a highly personal story about communicating cultural identity and connection. The artist casts himself in this captivating digital video, highlighting the importance of barrkungu wanga (language from a distance) sign language within the everyday life of his Yirrkala community where he works as a cameraman and film editor. This is an important work in its remarkable translation of cultural language through the language of art. The work is timely given that 2019 is the UNESCO International Year of Indigenous Languages. 

Telstra Works on
Paper Award 

Nyaparu (William) GARDINER (dec.)

Nyangumarta/Warnman/Manjilyjarra languages
South Hedland, WA

Our Old People 2018

synthetic polymer paint, lead pencil and ink on paper
114 x 300 x 90 cm

Judges' comments

Heartfelt and highly personal, this inventive frieze-like work on paper honours elders and remembers people who are now gone. Originally a storyteller in Nyangumarta language, Mr Gardiner’s poignant drawings and paintings of people and place frequently recall his time working on pastoral stations in the Pilbara and the Kimberley. There is an intimacy in this ambitious work that connects directly with our humanity.

Telstra Bark Painting Award

Nongirrna MARAWILI

Yolŋu Matha language
Yilpara, NT

Lightning strikes 2018

natural pigments and recycled print toner pigments
on stringybark
107 x 66 cm

Judges' comments

In a radical reinterpretation of materials, Noŋgirrŋa Marawili has interspersed a new language of unexpected colour into the tradition of bark painting by recycling the ‘found materials’ of magenta print toner. Noŋgirrŋa is a senior woman working from Buku-Larrnggay Mulka Art Centre at Yirrkala. The confident iconographic forms in the work carry important cultural knowledge informed by her strong familial ties.

Telstra Emerging Artist Award 


Kunwinjku language
Gunbalanya, NT

Queen Elizabeth 2019

synthetic polymer paint on paper 
60 x 40 cm

Judges' comments

This sophisticated and concentrated work is both serious and playful, referencing Australia’s history of colonisation and the resilience of Indigenous culture and in particular the visual language of West Arnhem Land. This work is a vigorous mix of ancient cultural knowledge and recent events that have irrevocably shaped the politics and governance of this land.



Supported by the Visual Arts and Craft Strategy, an initiative of the Australian, State and Territory Governments.


Museum and Art Gallery
of the Northern Territory

GPO Box 4646,
Darwin NT 0801

+61 8 8999 8264

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MAGNT acknowledges the traditional owners of country across the Northern Territory and beyond, and pays respect to Elders past, present and emerging.
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