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Nicole Monks is the recipient of the 2016 NATSIAA (National Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Art Award) Wandjuk Marika Memorial 3D Art Award.
The multi-award winning artist is urging First Nations artists to enter the 2017 competition.
Nicole is a trans-disciplinary artist of Yamatji Wajarri whose art is informed by her cross-cultural identity.
It was her performance work We are all animals that caught the eyes of the judges who awarded the 2016 NATSIAA Wandjuk Marika Memorial 3D Art.
This award completed an already impressive list of national recognitions. Her work has also featured in international exhibitions.
In 2014, Nicole Monks won the UNSW Art & Design Professional Development Award and was also winner of a Sydney Design Award for her showcase at Australian Indigenous Fashion Week.
The following year she won the Drift Instillation Art Award in Mandurah, Western Australia and her Aboriginal furniture range was launched at Shanghai International Furniture Fair.
It is about feeling okay about the story that makes me who I am
The latest Award, also known as the Wandjuk Marika 3D Memorial Award Has a very special significance for Nicole Monks.
Winning that award really meant a lot for me. More than any other Award especially because of the unique ties that my extended family has to this Award".
Nicole further explains that her husband's adoptive grandmother would house Wandjuk when he'd come to Sydney. Hence, she was familiar with the great Indigenous artist's paintings through a family setting. Consequently, Nicole feels that she has a family connection to the Wandjuk Marika 3D memorial Award.
Talking about her inspiration Nicole Monks says that her creations draw from her European and Indigenous heritage.
"I look at all the parts that make me who I am. I have the aboriginal which is First Nations, first people to live in Australia. I have the Dutch, the first Westerners to come here and say hey there is a country down there; and obviously the English that came here to colonize us. It is all about feeling okay about the story that makes me who I am."
We have to sort of make this place our home here
Seeing a bird trapped behind a glass wall and trying to make a living in the captive space inspired Nicole Monks award winning We are all animals creation.
"I saw this little bird and I thought; poor little bird it is trying to escape and I was thinking of how I can help, then I realised that it wasn't trying to escape. It was actually making its little nest in a corner and I thought to myself: isn't that interesting?
No matter what gets thrown at us in our environment we still have to make this place our home. To me that resonated for my heritage. No matter who we are, what's going on around us; we live in Western sort of social structures but still we have to sort of make this place our home here."
As a multidisciplinary artist Nicole Monks is also entering in a new creation for the NATSIAA 2017 awards in a newly created multimedia category.
In addition to her solo practice, she is also well known for her success as a collaborative artist and as founder of "blackandwhite creative".
As a proud winner of the Telstra NATSIAA award, Nicole is out in the community encouraging other Indigenous artists to enter the 2017 NATSIAA s awards.