The Telstra National Aboriginal & Torres Strait Islander Art Award is now in its 35th iteration, and it remains as relevant as ever. Kelly Gellatly, director of the Ian Potter Museum of Art and one of three judges this year, says “the Telstra NATSIAA showcases new work, and, as a result, is a significant and timely platform for current issues and concerns.” Or as fellow judge Judith Inkamala, a senior member of the Hermannsburg Potters, puts it, “It’s really important to see what everyone is doing and where they’re from. To be acknowledged for our work makes us feel proud of our country, culture and community.”
This year the award features 67 works by Indigenous artists from every state and territory except New South Wales. Prizes are awarded in multiple categories including: emerging artist, multimedia, bark painting, general painting, works on paper, and 3D work. And the judges will also choose an overall winner.
Judging the Telstra NATSIAA is a collaborative process and independent curator and art consultant Glenn Iseger-Pilkington will join Gellatly and Inkamala on the panel. Ahead of the judging, Gelllatly says she is looking forward to the process. “Being a member of a panel is about taking a collective journey, via discussion, and being willing to listen to and learn from the different opinions and perspectives of your colleagues,” she explains. While Inkamala says, “It will be hard work to choose a winner. Everybody’s work is marra’inthurra (really good). Winaka marra ilinbinya’ inthurra nhumanga.” But the artist knows exactly what she is looking for, “True artwork. Artwork that really comes from the heart. I will be thinking with my heart and eyes to determine who is making true, beautiful work.”
This article first appeared in the July/August 2018 print edition of Art Guide Australia.