NATSIAA have enriched the lives of generations of patrons and supporters by showcasing work that carries its own unique pulse and power. This work contributes to our deeper-understanding of our indigenous culture and Australian society through the sharing of art and ideas. There is no doubt the NATSIAA now have an unstoppable momentum and a global audience and Telstra is extremely proud to be involved. - Andy Penn, CEO Telstra
An innovative artist, Gunybi Ganambarr, from the remote community of Gan Gan in East Arnhem Land in the Northern Territory has won the overall prize - the prestigious Telstra Art Award - at the 2018 Telstra National Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Art Awards (NATSIAA).
Ganambarr’s work, Buyku, is a stunningly intricate etching on three-by-three metre aluminium board. It was selected as the overall winner at the 35th Telstra NATSIAA from more than 300 entries and 66 finalists.
The directions and flow of the forms in Buyku, although initially similar in design, are said to represent multiple grandfathers (Mari) from the one Dhalwangu clan. The arms come together to form a Buyku (fish trap) as seen in the ceremony performed by Yirritja ancestors.
The waters from Gadarrpa (Blue Mud Bay) to Gulutji come together to form a family connection.
The winning work was selected by an experienced judging panel assembled by the Telstra NATSIAA exhibition curator, the Museum and Art Gallery of the Northern Terrirtory (MAGNT). The panel comprised Kelly Gellatly, Director of the Ian Potter Museum of Art at the University of Melbourne; Glenn Iseger-Pilkington, independent curator and art consultant; and Judith Inkamala, artist and senior member of the Hermannsburg Potters.
The judges described Buyku by Gunybi Ganambarr as a commanding and powerful work, which illustrates the artist’s deep knowledge of culture and ceremony. Ganambarr’s command of materials and processes have resulted in a work that actively engages the viewer physically, intellectually and emotionally. Buyku speaks to the coming together of the Dhalwangu clan for fish trap ceremonies and how these ceremonies unite Yolŋu. The work honours Ganambarr’s forebearers, specifically his Dhalwangu mari or grandfathers, who are represented through a weave of etched forms depicting water and fish traps. Buyku speaks to the attainment of cultural knowledge over time and the artist’s own journey, which he generously shares through his brave and exacting practice.
35TH TELSTRA NATSIAA WINNERS
Telstra have been the principal sponsor for 27 years. NATSIAA is also supported by the Northern Territory Government and the Australia Council for the Arts, as part of its Visual Arts and Crafts Strategy.