Ngarrindjeri weaver Yvonne Koolmatrie (SA) has been announced as the winner of the 2016 Red Ochre Award. The $50,000 prize acknowledges the artist’s lifetime achievement and outstanding contribution to Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander arts, both nationally and internationally.
This award is one of three annual National Indigenous Arts Awards: the Red Ochre, a Fellowship and the Dreaming Award. The peer-assessed awards were established in 1993 by the Australia Council’s former Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Arts Board.
Australia Council Board Director Lee-Ann Buckskin said that Yvonne Koolmatrie was chosen because of her pioneering work in preserving the ancient art form of Ngarrindjeri weaving.
“Yvonne’s belief Ngarrindjeri weaving should be passed down to the next generation to preserve Ngarrindjeri culture, has seen her mentor many young artists and share the stories of the Riverland and her people,” she explained.
“Her determination to ensure Ngarrindjeri weaving did not become a lost art has resulted in her work being elevated to the world stage, including representing Australia at the 1997 Venice Biennale, alongside fellow Indigenous artists Judy Watson and the late Emily Kame Kngwarreye,” Buckskin said.
The 2016 Fellowship went to interdisciplinary artist, consultant and community cultural development teacher Vicki Couzens (Vic). She will receive $40,000 a year for two years to create a major project.
Lyricist, rapper, composer and producer Nooky (a.k.a. Corey Webster) (NSW) took out the $20,000Dreaming Award for an artist aged 18-26 to create a major body of work through mentoring or partnerships.
According to Australia Council Chair Rupert Myer AO, “The awards put a spotlight on the significant contribution Indigenous artists make to the artistic vibrancy and cultural life of Australia. They encourage us to experience, appreciate and learn about the diverse cultures and ancient stories of our First Peoples through the broad range of work created by Indigenous artists across Australia.”