• Aboriginal artist Betty Kuntiwa Pumani has been awarded the Wynne Prize for her representation of her country - Antara in South Australia. (NITV News)Source: NITV News
Betty Kunitwa Pumani has used her artistic talents to showcase her hometown of Antara and score the 2017 Wynne Prize.
By
Laura Morelli

28 Jul 2017 - 5:08 PM  UPDATED 28 Jul 2017 - 5:08 PM

The Wynne Prize of $50,000 for best landscape painting or figure sculpture has been awarded to Aboriginal artist Betty Kuntiwa Pumani from Antara in South Australia.

Antara in South Australia is an extremely important site for Betty Kuntiwa Pumani and her family. Antara is her mother’s country.

This place and its significant maku (witchetty grub) tjukurpa were a constant element in the paintings of her mother, the late Kunmanara (Milatjari) Pumani.

"Betty has tried to express the physicality of her connection to country and what it represents for her family."

Heath Aarons, Art Centre Manager at Mimili Maku Arts says it’s great to see strong artworks from the APY Lands – a place where Betty lives, works and Mimili community is based, being recognised.

“We’re proud that Betty’s and another two artworks from our centre were shortlisted for a prize… then to receive the news that Betty was the recipient of such a prestigious prize was an absolute honour,” he said. 

 

Betty and her older sister, Ngupulya Pumani are proud custodians of this country; they map its significance and hold its stories strong in their paintings.

“Betty paints a specific location which is really important to her and her family and she’s tried to express the physicality of her connection to country and what it represents for her family. Antara – the title of the painting, and the name of the country she has painted is an important site for the family,” Heath said.

Betty’s signature reds evoke the rocky desert country of Antara, while simultaneously suggesting blood or viscera and an unmistakable energy. The contrasting areas of white and its subtle tonal shifts are a quiet and patient counterpoint to the pulsating reds.

Betty, a former teacher at Mimili Anangu School, regularly paints the country that surrounds Antara. She has developed a hybrid style of traditional iconography and figurative, a painterly language which is fresh and lively.

The prize was established following a bequest by Richard Wynne, who died in 1895, and first awarded in 1897, in honour of the official opening of the Gallery at its present site.

This open competition is judged by the trustees of the Art Gallery of NSW. Many winning paintings have become icons in Australian landscape art, entering the collections of public galleries.

Betty is currently in Sydney to receive the award and wasn’t available for comment but Heath says on her behalf that ‘Mimili Maku Arts would like to thank the Art Gallery of NSW and the APY Art Centre Collective.’

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“Betty paints a specific location which is really important to her and her family and she’s tried to express the physicality of her connection to country and what it represents for her family. Antara – the title of the painting, and the name of the country she has painted is an important site for the family.”