Freda Brady, Maringka Tunkin, Sandra Ken and Tjungkara Ken and Yaritji Young (Ken sisters collaborative) Seven sisters Synthetic polymer paint on linen 200 x 300cm

The Museum and Art Gallery of the Northern Territory (MAGNT) is thrilled to announce the winners of the People’s Choice Award for the 35th Telstra National Aboriginal & Torres Strait Islander Art Awards (NATSIAA).

Selected from 66 artworks Seven sisters, an impressive work from the Ken sisters collaborative, Freda Brady, Maringka Tunkin, Sandra Ken, Tjungkara Ken and Yaritji Young, has been chosen by visitors to the 35th Telstra NATSIAA as the winner of this year’s People’s Choice Award.

The collaborative artwork of synthetic polymer paint on linen is a striking six square metres in size, it presents the story of family protecting and teaching each other with vibrant use of colour and dynamic mark making.

The artwork is a collaboration by five sisters from the Ken family – Tjungkara Ken, Yaritji Young, Freda Brady, Maringka Tunkin and Sandra Ken – who live in the remote Aboriginal community of Amata in the Anangu Pitjantjatjara Yankunytjatjara (APY) Lands in the far north-west of South Australia.

Artists in the Ken sisters collaborative stated that “The painting is the ‘seven sisters’ story about family protecting and teaching each other. It tells of women being chased by a bad man but being protected by their elder sisters. We have also included the tjala (honey ant), which refers to our country. When we work together as a family we are learning from each other and teaching each other. Our family is strong because we teach all our young women this important tjukurpa (the force which unites Anangu with each other and with the landscape).”

The artists went on to say "We are so excited by this news that our work won the People’s Choice Award at this year’s NATSIAAs. We loved being part of this exhibition, we love working towards the NATSIAAs and working together as a family makes it even more special. Thank you MAGNT and thank you to everyone who came and visited this exhibition for this special prize."

The Ken sisters collaborative are supported through Tjala Arts, a professional art making studio where culture is celebrated and maintained by Anangu across three generations. As an Anangu owned and governed business, Tjala Arts lies at the heart of Amata community.

Marcus Schutenko, Director of MAGNT, congratulated the Ken Sisters Collaborative: “As the longest running and most prestigious Indigenous art award in the country, Telstra NATSIAA attracts over 65,000 visitors to the museum each year. MAGNT congratulates the Ken Sisters for taking out the People’s Choice Award in a year that is widely seen as having the strongest selection of artworks ever gathered for a single art award”. Voting in the People’s Choice Award is open to all visitors to the Telstra NATSIAA, with the winning artwork in this category announced in the final weeks of the exhibition.

The 35th Telstra NATSIAA is on at MAGNT until 11 November. Preparations for the 2019 awards are now underway, with entries for the 36th Telstra NATSIAA opening soon.

Tjungkara Ken, Sandra Ken, Freda Brady, Maringka Tunkin, Yaritji Young and their mother Paniny Mick. Photo courtesy of Tjala Arts.