Australia’s longest standing Indigenous art awards, the Telstra National Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Art Awards (NATSIAA), is back this August in the Northern Territory for its 36th year.
Out of 280 submissions from all states and territories, 68 established and emerging artists have been shortlisted as finalists across eight award categories.
The awards, to be held at the Museum and Art Gallery of the Northern Territory (MAGNT), collectively show the diversity of modern Indigenous artistic practices through multiple disciplines of art.
MAGNT curator for Aboriginal Art Luke Scholes said this year’s standard was extremely high as artist’s submitted work across “a large breadth of mediums”.
“I’d have to suggest the quality of entries is the best that I’ve seen in my time at the awards… the quality at this year’s exhibition will be equal if not better than last year’s awards,” he told NITV News.
“It was a strong year for emerging artists as well… their work had a real immediate impact on the selection committee.”
Mr Scholes said the awards are important because it “provides a platform” and “launching pad” for new and emerging artists to announce themselves in front of the Australian visual arts sector.
Since its inception, it has evolved to be the most prestigious Indigenous art awards, with Krystal Hurst, jewellery creator and Worimi woman based in the Australian Capital Territory, telling NITV News it had always been a dream of hers to have a piece in the Telstra NATSIAA.
“To be accepted after my first time putting in, I think it just really shows they see my work and that it’s valuable,” she said
“I’m really proud to be a part of it.”
Ms Hurst said she was exposed to jewellery and creating it at a young age as she sat "at the kitchen table with her mum" while she made necklaces. Through her creations, Ms Hurst wants people who wear her jewellery to feel connected to Indigenous culture and empowered by it.
Fourth-year running as a finalist Kent Morris, a Barkindji man based in Melbourne, said his inventive photography is a modern way in “helping the country understand the diversity of our culture”.
“We are using technology and new means to re-use and re-generate [our stories] and to keep the younger people involved,” he told NITV News.
“It’s a living culture, not just a culture of the past.”
Eight awards will be presented on August 9th with seven of the awards including a prize of $5,000. The highest honour, awarded to the work that is considered to be the most outstanding, is the Telstra Art Award, coming with a prize of $50,000.
Telstra announced earlier this month they have extended their partnership to continue hosting the Telstra NATSIAA with MAGNT for another three years, in their pursuit to continue supporting First Nations artists.