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MAGNT announces Telstra NATSIAA finalists

2022 Telstra Emerging Artist Award Louise Malarvie with ‘Pamarr Yara’. Image: MAGNT/Charlie Bliss.

Nina Hendy, Aboriginal art in the spotlight, National Indigenous Times, 30 May 2023

Interest in Australia’s 60,000-year-old Aboriginal arts heritage has increased significantly in the past few years as investors circle some of the nation’s increasingly well-known Indigenous artists.

Sixty-three finalists have been announced in the 2023 Telstra National Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Art Awards (NATSIAA).

The award sets out to highlight some of the key players in the arts world who have shaped the Awards through their contributions as artists and curators.

Of the selected entries, 31 finalists are from the Northern Territory, 13 from South Australia, eight from Queensland, six from Western Australia, two from the Australian Capital Territory, and one each from New South Wales, Tasmania and Victoria. Sixteen finalists fall under the emerging artist category.

The Museum and Art Gallery of the Northern Territory (MAGNT) has been presenting these awards since 1984, which was a critical time, when Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander art and artists were first gaining critical commercial recognition for their artworks. The award ceremony will be held on Friday 11 August on Larrakia Country (Darwin). The cash pool of $190,000 will be awarded across seven categories.

MAGNT director Adam Worrall said this year’s finalists continue to forge new ideas and perspectives through a breadth of exemplary works and mediums produced over the past 12 months. He said the longest-running Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander art award in Australia is a celebration of culture, artistic practice and connection to Country.

The selection panel applauded artists who entered their work, understanding the vulnerability and generosity it takes to enter the awards.

MAGNT’s curator of Aboriginal Art and Material Culture Rebekah Raymond said: “For me, it’s about artists being able to be with their peers. Be celebrated alongside their peers. The artists are what make these awards every single year.”

Telstra chief executive Vicki Brady said the telco has been a part of the awards for 32 years, with the prize pool increasing last year to encourage more emerging and established artists to enter.

“For four decades, NATSIAA has provided an opportunity for the rich and diverse stories of our First Nations people to be told,” she said.

Organisers note that Telstra NATSIAA is the longest-running Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander art award in Australia, and is “a celebration of culture, artistic practice and connection to Country”.

“Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples have shaped the Awards through their contributions as artists, curators, coordinators, selection committee members, and judges,” Telstra NATSIAA said in a statement.

“Telstra NATSIAA has generated a significant and positive impact on the awareness, development, and growth of the First Nations visual arts sector.”

Since 1984, MAGNT has presented the National Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Art Awards (NATSIAA) on Larrakia Country. The establishment of NATSIAA came at a critical time when Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander art and artists were first widely recognised, artistically, critically, and commercially.

40 Celebrating four decades of the National Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Art Awards will present a selection of artworks from each decade of the Awards. The exhibition will open to the public at MAGNT on Saturday 12 August 2023.