King & Wood Mallesons Contemporary
First Nations Art Award 2020 Award Winners
AWARD WINNERS 2020
King & Wood Mallesons is thrilled to announce that Michelle Woody (Tiwi Islands, NT) has been awarded the 2020 KWM Contemporary First Nations Art Award. Please see below for other award recipients. Congratulations to all finalists.
The King & Wood Mallesons Contemporary First Nations Art Award | Ngiya Murrakupupuni (My Country)
“When I was a little girl, I always watched the old people getting painted up for ceremony and wearing those special adornments – pamijini and marruwi. I remember when my uncle passed away my cousins were crushing ochre and they painted themselves with the Pwoja comb (Tiwi ironwood comb for painting dots). For me when I got painted up, it felt like a special moment when family and friends came together to mourn. When family leave us and are laid to rest, we all come together and have a special memory of them, they have a special space in my heart forever. When I was watching my family it gave me traditional knowledge, I learnt about ceremony and art from my elders. We go out on country to collect ochre for ceremony and this is the same ochre I use in my art. I use yellow, red and white ochre. These colours and the paintings represent body design for ceremony. For ‘Ngiya Murrakupupuni’ I use the same pwoja comb we use for body painting – the same one I watched my family use for ceremony all those years ago. In my new paintings I have been using this comb to paint my country. My Country is Pupatuw.” – Michelle Woody, 2020 ‘Ngiya Murrakupupuni’ encapsulates Michelle Woody’s contemporary Tiwi style for which she is gaining national recognition. In the long-standing tradition of her ancestors she utilises natural ochres sourced on country around Milikapiti – they are collected, crushed and burned into the three traditional colours of the island landscape: white, yellow and red.
The VIC Local Artist Award | A Moment in Time - Connection to Country 2020
A Moment in Time – Connection to Country represents my connection to country, culture, and place. The charcoal and ochre inside the glass seed pods is from past Lake Victoria in NSW, one of the most concentrated Aboriginal sites of historical habitation in the world. My family would go camping there every year. The natural river reeds are from the Maribyrnong River in Melbourne, which is Boon Wurrung Country. The river-reed necklace is based on traditional talisman that were given to people passing through Country as a sign of safe passage and friendship, but are supersized to reflect the scale of the loss of knowledge of cultural practices. Utilising glass together with these natural materials transforms the work and places it within the context of contemporary art, and reinforces our traditions as they develop and remain relevant in contemporary Australia.
Highly Commended Award | Minyma Makuli Tjukurpa
This is the cave of Minyma Makuli), also known as Minyma Malilu) - minyma nymupu - she was crippled and had to crawl on her hands and knees across the ground. She dug out this cave with the piti (wooden bowl), to be her big wiltja (shelter). She camped here with her kungkawara kutjara, two daughters, young women. One evening the girls returned from hunting with kuku pulka (large game), she wondered how they got it, and where it had come from? Two men had given it to the girls! Her girls left her alone for a long time and didn't help her, poor thing, poor old weak woman, so she decided to follow them. She crawled after them, wanatjara anu, using a walking stick, following their tracks northwest back to the hills. When she reached their camp the men hit and killed her. They had called the girls in marriage and took them away. This is Carolanne's grandmother's country. The underground cave at Kanypi is a permanent water supply. Carolanne is from Fregon on the *APY Lands. Precise, fine brushwork are characteristics of her work. Carolanne is a keen story teller and combining a tradional style with a contemporary edge to her work, reflects a keen sense of place retaining the importance of traditional country as inspiration for her work. *Anangu Pitjantjatjara/Yankunytjatjara Lands, in the far north-west of South Australia
Highly Commended Award | Branded
Through ‘Branded’, Glynn-Braun draws attention to contemporary Indigenous skin politics, a result of the devastation of Australian colonisation, while simultaneously promoting generational Indigenous resilience and identity. ‘Branded’ consists of four large white sheer sheets of Organza dyed in different flesh coloured shades of facial foundation (makeup). The soft fabric sheets are hung in an overlapping diagonal formation suspended gently from the ceiling, from fairest to darkest. Hung together, the sheets reflect the diversity in skin colours of Indigenous Australia today. Through highlighting the many different skin shades that belong to Indigenous people, Glynn-Braun draws attention to contemporary Indigenous skin politics and contestations of Aboriginality through skin colour. As the foundation makeup travels upwards, enveloping the fabric sheet, Glynn-Braun reclaims the white colonial branding of full, half-cast and quarter-cast ascribed to Indigenous people who were descendants of the Stolen Generation. The Stolen Generation brought by the Assimilation Policy (1951-1962) was designed to obliterate Indigenous bloodlines by removing children from their families and ultimately ‘breeding out’ melanin over generations. Glynn-Braun positions ‘Branded’ as a reminder of this colonial wrong but strongly highlights the continued survival and generational resilience of the Aboriginal people through the reclamation of identity and the continual generation of a strong sense of self.
Highly Commended Award | Veiled Bird
This photographic image has a sombre and painterly darkness, out of which a central light reveals a tableau of stillness. A bird stands, head veiled by a shroud made from a dried leaf of a native lily. She holds an emu feather gently in her beak, while her leg is manacled, attached by a chain which rests in the gathered linen tablecloth. Grounded in an aesthetic that echoes the Old Masters, this image is vested in symbolism and has a simmering emotional register unusual in Michael Cook’s oeuvre. The veiled bird, her three eggs resting in the nest and the altar-like candle, recently snuffed out, allude to nurturing instincts derailed by substance addiction. The emu feather, renowned for its softness, suggest good motherly intentions despite an enslavement to addiction (drugs and alcohol evoked by the empty bottles, and broken poppies in a floral arrangement). The central leaf is worn like a cape which blinds this bird, physically and metaphorically, and takes us to the pieta, the mother’s loss of her progeny. Yet in the eggs lies a seed of hope, an inherent belief in the individual over environment, and the redemption of culture. In its intensity, art historical antecedents, and oblique biographical reference (to Cook’s adoption), this image marks a compelling departure from the artist’s previous series-driven photography. It is also powerful in its evocation of colonisation’s devasting impact on Australia’s First Nations peoples and cyclical and ongoing poverty.
King & Wood Mallesons Contemporary
First Nations Art Award 2020 Finalists
Finalist artwork and artist profiles available to view below. To view the artist statements, click on image to expand
2020 Finalist Profiles
Amala Groom is a Wiradyuri conceptual artist whose practice, as the performance of her cultural sovereignty, is informed and driven by First Nations epistemologies, ontologies and methodologies. Her work, a form of passionate activism, presents acute and incisive commentary on contemporary socio-political issues. Articulated across diverse media, Groom’s work often subverts and unsettles western iconographies to enunciate Aboriginal stories, experiences and histories, and to interrogate and undermine the legacy of colonialism. Informed by extensive archival, legislative and first-person research, Groom’s work is socially engaged, speaking truth to take a stand against hypocrisy, prejudice, violence and injustice.
Across her practice, Groom proactively seeks to dismantle the Colonial Project (1) by asserting the argument that colonialism is not just disadvantageous for First Peoples but is, in fact, antithetical to the human experience. On a deeper note, Groom intends to make work that speaks to the union of all peoples and to the indivisibility of the human experience that traverses identity, culture, race, class, gender and religious worship.
Groom is a solo practitioner who works with her family, community and extensive economic, cultural, political, legal and social networks to both inform, lead and drive her practice. Groom works collaboratively with individuals and groups on a project by project basis.
(1) The Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy defines the Colonial Project as emerging ‘when it became possible to move large numbers of people across the ocean and to maintain political sovereignty in spite of geographical dispersion’. The artist uses the term to describe the ongoing invasion of Australia by the Crown through the usurpation of Aboriginal sovereignty by the State.
Angkaliya was born in 1928 at Miti in the South Australian Pitjantjatjara Lands. When she was small she travelled with her mother to Watarru (her mother's country). The family spent time at Ernabella mission and cattle station properties exchanging animal skins (dingoes and rabbits) for flour and sugar. She married and lived at Ernabella where she worked in the craft room spinning wool and making rugs. In the 1960's she moved closer to her traditional homeland when the community of Amata began. Today she lives and works between Nyapari Community and Cave Hill. Angkaliya lived a semi nomadic lifestyle often walking long distances in the desert where traditional knowledge of the country, its water holes and food supplies are vital to survival. She learned from her mother and grandmother the secrets of the land and acquired an intimate nderstanding of the environment and the ancestral creation stories associated with it. When Angkaliya was a young girl she learned about traditional foods and their preparation from the older women around her. She gathered foods such as ili (native fig), kampurarpa (desert raisins), tjala (honey ants), maku (witchetty grubs) ngintaka (perentie goanna), tjati (edible lizard) and anumara
(edible caterpillars). She also knew about minkulpa (native tobacco) and other plants with medicinal properties. She gathered Irmangka-Irmangka grinding the small sticky leaf of the native eremophila and mixing with emu fat to make a pultice for muscular aches and pains. She learned what seed to collect to grind to a flour to make into small cakes cooked in the hot ashes from the fire. She made wiltjas (simple dwellings - shade structures from branches), yuu (windbreaks), and carved utensils from local trees such as wana (wooden digging stick) and piti (collecting bowls). She read the desert sands for tracks and hunted small animals. She spun hair on a hand made spindle for ceremonial belts and manguri (woven head ring). Art and craft are still important to Angkaliya and she maintains prolific weaving, artefact production and painting practices. Her camp is scattered with discarded raffia and spinifex from the tjanpi baskets she makes in the evening and during weekends. During the week Angkaliya is a dedicated painter, she is often the first to arrive in the studio and the last to leave, maintaining a slow and rhythmic approach to building up her artworks. In recent years Angkaliya has shifted away from the quirky figurative depictions of animals she was famous for, towards a more abstracted expression of Tjukurpa. The confident underdrawings in her paintings maintain a distinct sense of knowledge and cultural integrity and act as an armature off which she hangs beautiful tracts of colour blended together with her signature painterly marks. In later life she favours large paintings as they allow her to tell a grand story
full of intensity and power.
Ashlee is a shell stringer from the Northwest coast of Tasmania. Ashlee has been creating shell necklaces for around eight years and learnt this treasured practice through a cultural rejuvenation project. Ashlee has been mentored by many of the great stringers including Aunty Jeanette James, Auntie Corrie Fullard, Aunty Lola Greeno and Aunty Dulcie Greeno.Ashlee loves representing her people through this ancient cultural practice and looks forward to the day when she can strengthen her connection through passing this knowledge on to her young daughter. “We are one of the only peoples in the world stringing shells like this, so I think it is quite definitive of Tasmanian Aboriginal people. It is incredibly important to me personally and to our Community at large, whether you are practicing shell stringing or not.”
Brian Robinson is a multi-skilled contemporary artist whose practice includes painting, printmaking, sculpture and design. Creative from a young age, he has enjoyed a long career as a curator and visual artist. His work is inspired by his Torres Strait Islander heritage and combines his passion for experimentation crossing boundaries between reality and fantasy.
Carmen Glynn-Braun is a First Nations Artist stemming from the Eastern Arrernte, Kaytetye, and Anmatyerre nations across Central Australia. Glynn-Braun has lived a dual life, growing up between Alice Springs and Sydney since the age of eight and is currently based at Artspace Woolloomooloo, as part First Nations emerging artists collective Re-Right. Glynn-Braun’s artistic practice employs a trans-disciplinary approach, working across a wide variety of mediums. Her work predominantly explores the lived experiences of Aboriginal women translated through gentle and experimental approaches to materials and form. She seeks to share the often untold and concealed stories of Aboriginal women through exploration of transgenerational narratives, derived from familial stories.
Carolanne Ken is from Fregon on the Anangu Pitjantjatjara Yankunytjatjara Lands, 350m south east of Uluru. Her father's country is Mulya Ulpa, near Pilkinga and her mother's country is Walytjitjata, west of Kanypi. Carolanne went to school in Fregon and Woodville High in Adelaide, graduating in 1986. She has worked at Fregon Anangu School, ANTEP and Kaltjiti Arts. In 2004 Carolanne was encouraged to paint by her mother, Iwana Ken, a senior artist.
Initally Carolanne painted her desert country as a landscape, showcasing the wildflowers and small green shrubs dotted across her country. In recent years, Carolanne has developed a unique style that combines traditional motifs with a contemporary edge to depict Minyma Maluli, which was passed down from her maternal grandmother.
Minyma Malilu is an underground cave at Kanypi which is a permanent water supply. Minyma Malilu is also the cave of Minyma Nyumpu - the ancestral crippled woman. During the raintime she dug out this cave with her piti, to be her big 'wiltja' (shelter). She camped here at Kanypi with her 'kungkawara kutjara' (two daughters, young women). She left and moved on south to Kunumata and then further on to Tankaanu.
Carolannne has one son Clive Ken, who is married to Molly Frank and one granddaughter, Carlena.
Dhuwarrwarr is sister of Wandjuk, Bayŋgul and Banduk Marika, and daughter of Mawalan, the Rirratjiŋu clan leader who
originally welcomed the missionaries to set up on his land, creang the beginnings of modern day Yirrkala.
Dhuwarrwarr is believed by many (including Professor Howard Morphy and herself) to be the first Yolŋu woman
authorised to paint sacred designs on her own. This is supported by some recently rediscovered contemporaneous
evidence. The 1974 catalogue for 'Art of Aboriginal Australians presented by Rothmans Pall Mall Canada' says the
following about a work by Dhuwarrwarr, "This is a most unusual painng in that it was painted by a woman of the
Rirratjingu tribe of Yirrkala. It is unprecedented for a woman to be allowed to paint on bark any aspect of sacred
mythology. Dhuwarrwarr's father, Mawalan, was the ceremonial leader of the Rirratjingu tribe and was steeped in the
mythology of his people. He painted up to the me of his death, and with failing eyesight and poor health, allowed
Dhuwarrwarr to help him, aer consultaon with his sons and brothers and elders of the group. She has not painted
since his death unl recently, when she again requested permission from her brothers to do so."
Fiona Foley is Badtjala and an influential curator, writer and academic as well as an internationally recognised artist. Foley pursues a diverse artistic practice encompassing painting, printmaking, photography, sculpture, mixed-media work, found objects and installation. Foley examines and dismantles historical stereotypes and her works explore a broad range of themes that relate to politics, culture, ownership, language and identity. From proudly asserting her Badtjala womanhood in 1994 (Badtjala Woman and Native Blood), Foley went on to assume the mantles of peoples from other nations: American Seminole dress in Wild Times Call (1994), a radical inversion of Ku Klux Klan robes in the Hedonistic Honky Haters series (2004), and an Islamic woman’s burqa in Nulla 4 Eva (2009). Her manoeuvres are not only intended to sidestep stereotypes and unsettle expectations of the Aboriginal artist, but also to signal affiliations with international First Nation peoples and their shared concerns.
One of Australia’s most renowned contemporary Indigenous artists, Gordon Hookey has risen to a deserved level of prominence as part of documenta14’s extensive program of exhibitions and events in Kassel (Germany) and as part of The National – New Australian Art at Sydney’s Museum of Contemporary Art, which runs in three editions in 2017, 2019, and 2021. Hookey’s work is known for occupying a space where Aboriginal and non-Aboriginal cultures converge. He often combines figurative characters, iconic symbols, bold sections of text, and vibrant colours. Through this idiosyncratic visual language he has developed a unique and immediately recognisable style. Hookey says his perspective comes from “a divergent, activist positioning that challenges hierarchies, skewering the status and integrity of the ‘elite’ while working to bolster the position of the marginalised and oppressed.” Hookey was born in Cloncurry, Queensland, belongs to the Waanyi people, and lives and works in Brisbane, where he is represented by Milani Gallery.
Helen Ganalmirriwuy was born in Galiwin'ku (Elcho Island) and grew up on Langarra. She has seven fathers from
Garriyak, on the mainland south of Galiwin’ku.
Ganalmirriwuy understands gandjarrmirr miny'tji (the power of colour). Her woven work can be disnguished by the
striking use of blacks, oranges, reds and other earthy hues. Her monochrome pieces exemplify her mastery of colour
and natural dye process as well as precise weaving technique. Ganalmirriwuy makes her colours from roots, leaves and
barks harvested on the Crocodile Islands and her mother's homeland of Langarra (Howard Island).
Ganalmirriwuy has been weaving since she was a young girl and today is celebrated as a master weaver and
accomplished arst. She weaves daily with her sisters, including the esteemed Margaret Rarru. The sisters are
connually finding new ways of weaving nave fibres into mindirr ga bathi (dilly bags and baskets), mät (2D artworks),
wearable pieces and large-scale sculptures. Ganalmirriwuy's work demonstrates fine aenon to detail and striking use
of miny'tji (colour and paern).
Ian Waldron worked in various graphic industries before studying Visual Arts at the Northern Territory University in the mid-1990s. Throughout his art practice he pays tribute to the story of the Kurtjar people in his homeland of the Gulf of Carpentaria and regularly paints images of contemporary life on the Delta Downs cattle station, the largest Aboriginal owned cattle station in Australia.
Waldron has worked prolifically in his studio in Far North Queensland for over twenty years developing a number of related series, incorporating painting, photography, printmaking and installation. Recurring subject matter in his works amidst family characters, significant sites and memories, include clan group and personal totems which are important to the artist. These include the Bloodwood tree and the black cockatoo. Also important to the artist is his traditional language Kurtjar and he often uses this language as a key element in his paintings.
Ian was the winner of the prestigious 2010 Glover Prize, Tasmania, and has thrice been selected as a finalist in The Wynne Prize at the Art Gallery of NSW as well as being a finalist in the Archibald prize in 2007. Furthermore he has been a finalist in the Telstra Aboriginal Art Prize multiple times and was selected as a finalist in the inaugural Kind & Wood Malleson Contemporary ATSI Art Award in 2018.
Ian is currently working on a major outdoor public art commission for the Royal Queensland Hospital with fellow Indigenous artist Joanne Currie Nalingu. His works are held in numerous private and public collections nationally.
Jenna Lee is a mixed race Larrakia, Wardaman and Karajarri woman whose contemporary art practice explores the acts of identity/identification, label/labelling and the relationships formed between language, label and object. Being a Queer, Mixed Race, Asian (Japanese, Chinese and Filipino), Anglo Australian, Aboriginal Woman, Lee’s practice is strongly influenced by her overlapping identities, childhood memory as well as maternal teachings of subject and process.
As an interdisciplinary artist, her work incorporates painting, projection, found object and sculpture with a reoccurring use of paper, the book, language and text. Recent work explores the transformation of the printed word through the ritualistic acts of destruction and reconstruction, seeking to translate the page into a new tangible language. New experimental works created by Lee further explore these themes through animation and moving image.
Lee is the recipient of the Wandjuk Marika 3D Memorial Award at the 2020 Telstra National Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Art Award (NATSIAA), a finalist Ravenswood Australian Women’s Art Prize and as well as The Libris Artist Book Prize. In 2019 Lee was the recipient of the Australia Council’s Young and Emerging Dreaming Award, presented at the National Indigenous Arts Awards as well as one of 10 finalists in the prestigious John Fries Award for emerging and early career Australian and New Zealander artists. In 2018 Jenna was a finalist in the 35th NATSIAA, a finalist in the 2018 Blacktown Art Prize. In 2018, as well as winning the tertiary category in the Libris Artist Book Prize for her the loose-leaf artist book ‘A Plant in the Wrong Place’.
Joe Dhamanydji is the youngest son of renowned arst and Gupapuyŋu cultural leader Tom Djäwa. Djäwa was at the
forefront of the contemporary art movement that flourished on Yurrwi (Milingimbi) in the 1950s. Yurrwi was Djäwa’s märi (mother’s mother) ancestral country and a ceremonial meeting ground for his paternal Gupapuyŋu clan. Djäwa’s homeland was on the mainland at Djiliwirri, east of Galiwin’ku (Elcho Island). In the 1920s, Djäwa and a Wangurri man named Harry Makarrwala led their people through the transition of the establishment of the Milingimbi Mission. Djäwa was the voice of the community at the Village Council meetings and was elected Chairperson. Dhamanydji remembers sitting at the camp fire with his father and other family members. Here, Djäwa would oenshare the story of the time that he travelled to Toowoomba to meet Queen Elizabeth and perform buŋgul (ceremony) with his fellow Gupapuyŋu clanspeople. Dhamanydji grew up at Yurrwi and aended the Mission school there. As a school-age boy he watched Gupapuyngu men and their yindipulu (the extended family of his patrilineal clan) make their master ochre-on-bark artworks under the shade of the tamarind trees at Ŋarawunhdhu (bottom camp). Dhamanydji was taught to paint his Gupapuyŋu clan miny’tji (designs) by his older brother Dr. Joe Gumbula; he also has permission to paint some designs belonging to other clans and is respected for his extensive knowledge of these. Since becoming a recognised contemporary artist his artworks have been collected by institutions including the Art Gallery of New South Wales.
Dhamanydji was inspired by his brother’s work as a researcher and academic and has himself contributed valued cultural knowledge to a number of national collections, including those of the Berndt Museum (University of Western Australia, Perth), Macleay Museum (University of Sydney), Art Gallery of NSW (Sydney), Museum Victoria (Melbourne) and the National Museum of Australia (Canberra).
‘Many of my father’s and other old people’s paintings have been kept in the museum for a long, long me. We need to find these paintings because many have been mixed up with different names. I worry if we don’t put the right name and clan, the connections between the people and stories won’t make sense in the future. My brother Dr Joe Gumbula was a researcher at many universities and museums. He picked me and my brothers Michael Muŋguḻa and George Milaypuma to work with him. We haven’t lost our miny’tji because we are still making them at the art centre and for ceremony in Milingimbi. I have travelled to museums in Darwin, Sydney, Canberra, Queensland, Melbourne, Adelaide and Perth. And still there is a lot of work to do to make sure meaning is not lost.’ Dhamanydji continues to live in Yurrwi and to uphold his Gupapuyŋu Law through gamunuŋgu (painting), manikay (song) and buŋgul (ceremony). He is a senior leader for his Gupapuyŋu clan.
Josh Muir is a First Nations artist. He uses a fusion of traditional Aboriginal artistry and storytelling with street art. Muir’s work explores his own journey through mental illness. His vivid, geometric, digitally rendered artworks are created on a computer. They are inspired by his heritage, hip hop, comic books and street art.
Judy Watson was born in Mundubbera, Queensland. Judy Watson’s Aboriginal matrilineal family is from Waanyi country in north-west Queensland. The artist’s process evolves by working from site and memory, revealing Indigenous histories, following lines of emotional and physical topography that centre on particular places and moments in time. Spanning painting, printmaking, drawing, sculpture and video, her practice often draws on archival documents and materials, such as maps, letters and police reports, to unveil institutionalised discrimination. Exhibiting extensively since the 1980s, Watson co-represented Australia at the 1997 Venice Biennale and won the Works on Paper Award at the 23rd National Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Award in 2006. She was also the recipient of the National Gallery of Victoria’s 2006 Clemenger Contemporary Art Award. In 2011, Watson’s exhibition waterline was shown at the Embassy of Australia in Washington DC, and in 2012, she exhibited in the Sydney Biennale. In 2018, the Art Gallery of New South Wales staged a major exhibition of her work titled the edge of memory. Watson has also received commissions for several public art projects across Australia, including fire and water at Reconciliation Place in Canberra in 2007, ngarunga nangama: calm water dream at 200 George St in Sydney in 2016, and in the same year, tow row for the Gallery of Modern Art’s 10th Anniversary in Brisbane. A significant solo exhibition of her work will open in March 2020 at Ikon Gallery in Birmingham. Her work is also included in several significant Australian and international collections, including all of Australia’s state institutions, the National Gallery of Australia, the Tokyo National University of Technology, the Taipei Fine Arts Museum, the British Museum, and MCA/TATE. Watson is an Adjunct Professor at Griffith University, and in 2018, she was awarded an Honorary Doctorate of Art History by the University of Queensland.
Kait James is a proud Wadawurrung woman and award winning contemporary visual artist based in
Melbourne. Kait obtained a Bachelor of Media Arts/Photography from RMIT University in 2001 but returned to making art in 2018 through her love of textiles and colour. Using Punch Needling techniques with predominately wool and cotton, she embroiders kitsch found
materials such as Aboriginal souvenir tea towels from the 70’s and 80’s to explore her indigenous identity and Anglo heritage. By reappropriating these images, she endeavours to develop and use her art in ways that encourages responsiveness, unity and optimism within and beyond Indigenous communities.
After graduating from National Art School, Sydney in 1993, Karla Dickens has held more than thirty solo
exhibitions and participated in countless group exhibitions and community based projects between 1994 and now. This year has seen Dickens’ work feature at 2020 Adelaide Biennial of Australian Art: Monster Theatres at Art Gallery of South Australia; 22nd Biennale of Sydney, NIRIN at Art Gallery of New South Wales; along with solo exhibitions My Mother's Keeper at Linden New Art, Melbourne and Mother's Little Helpers at Mosman Art Gallery, Sydney. In recent years, Karla has featured in numerous significant exhibitions, including: Cook and the Pacific at National Library of Australia, Canberra (2018); Defying Empire: 3rd National Indigenous Art Triennial
at National Gallery of Australia, Canberra (travelling 2017-20); and The National 2017: new Australian
art at Carriageworks, Sydney (2017). In 2016, paintings of Karla's were projected onto the sails of
Sydney Opera House, to a live audience of hundreds of thousands, as part of Vivid LIVE.
Driving forces behind Karla’s need to communicate are her cross-cultural heritage as a proud woman of
Aboriginal (Wiradjuri), Irish and German heritage and her life experience as a mother, environmentalist
and activist. Dickens uses recycled everyday items to explore notions of persistence amidst inherent
violence and misunderstanding. Made with uncommon rawness and daring, her meticulously fabricated
works emanate a rare truthfulness and honesty. Edgy and hard to confine, Karla often cannibalizes
existing works to create new ones. She presents a wide ranging and unique interpretation of the real
world — where past and present collide in a multi-dimensional kaleidoscope of her own making.
Kaye Brown is a senior Jilamara artist who began painting in 2012. Prior to joining Jilamara, Kaye taught at the local primary school and worked at the library. Kaye is a proud grandmother to 15 grandchildren living across Australia. She is passionate about teaching culture to the next generation. Her work has featured in major group exhibitions across the country since 2015. In 2018, Kaye was nominated for the 35th NATSIAA Telstra Awards and the inaugural King and Wood Mallesons Contemporary ATSI Art Prize. Kaye paints using the Kayimwagakimi, the traditional Tiwi painting ‘comb’ carved from ironwood. Her work features themes about being on country on the Tiwi Islands, the sun, the stars, the sky and bush tucker.
Maree Clarke is a Yorta Yorta/Wamba Wamba/Mutti Mutti/Boonwurrung woman who grew up in northwest Victoria, mainly in Mildura, on the banks of the Murray River. Maree has been a practicing artist living and working in Melbourne for the last three decades. Maree Clarke is a pivotal figure in the reclamation of southeast Australian Aboriginal art practices, reviving elements of Aboriginal culture that were lost – or laying dormant - over the period of colonisation, as well as a leader in nurturing and promoting the diversity of contemporary southeast Aboriginal artists. Maree’s continuing desire to affirm and reconnect with her cultural heritage has seen her revification of the traditional possum skin cloaks, together with the production of contemporary designs of kangaroo teeth necklaces, river reed necklaces and string headbands adorned with kangaroo teeth and echidna quills, in both traditional and contemporary materials such as glass and 3D printing. Maree Clarke’s multi media installations of photography including lenticular prints, 3D photographs and photographic holograms as well as painting, sculpture and video installation further explore the customary ceremonies, rituals and language of her ancestors.
Marina Pumani Brown
Marina Pumani Brown was born in Mimili Community on the Anangu Pitjantjatjara Yankunytjatjara (APY) Lands in the far northwest of South Australia. She comes from a long line of strong female painters. Her Grandmother was Milatjari Pumani,
who was one of the most famous artists in the APY region. Her mother is Betty Kuntiwa Pumani and her aunt was Ngupulya Pumani. Marina grew up watching these strong Pumani women paint. Learning from them, and beside them, she has since developed her own interpretation of the Tjukurpa passed on to her. In her art practice, Marina shows contemporary ways of seeing her ancestral knowledge, sharing insights into her experience of day-to-day community life. She references her family’s homeland around Antara and Victory Well, which lie nestled in the granite hills of the Everard Ranges. Marina often spends the weekends out on country with her mother and daughter, collecting minkulpa (bush tobacco) and maku (witchetty grubs). She expresses her role in the larger story of cultural continuity in her unique and powerful paintings, which resemble abstract maps of the landscape she knows so well.
Michael Cook is an award-winning photographer who worked commercially in Australia and overseas for twenty-five years. In 2009, he began to make art photography, driven by an increasingly urgent desire to explore issues of identity. His photographic series are unique in their approach, evocatively recreating incidents that emerge from Australian colonial history. His images unite the historical with the imaginary, the political with the personal. Visually striking, technically complex and sensitively inventive, they occupy a new space in the Australian artistic imagination. Cook’s photographic practice is unusual. He constructs his images in a manner more akin to painting than the traditional photographic studio or documentary model. He begins with an idea, regarding the image as his blank canvas. Photographic layering is then used to build the image to provide aesthetic depth. He characteristically works in photographic series that explore narratives within a central idea. Unfolding tableaux offer enigmatic stories that are not prescribed, but left open to audience interpretation. While much of the early work was based on Australian narratives, set in outback or beach environments, new series’, such as Object (2015), speak to a European cultural heritage and a universal experience of dispossession and displacement. Cook’s own life has been affected by adoption with the circumstances of his birth shared with him from his earliest years. His biological mother became pregnant, aged only sixteen, to an Aboriginal man. Her residence in a small country town in Australia in the conservative late 1960s meant that offering him for adoption was almost mandatory. A happy childhood was spent within a family heavily involved in supporting Indigenous rights in Australia. An exploration of issues that surround identity are central to Cook’s approach to creating artwork, yet the stories he develops have an equally universal application to humanity. He suggests, “I create artwork about Indigenous issues, past and present, about how the past relates to the present and, eventually, moulds the future. Put simply, I’m a person of mixed ancestry – some of which is Indigenous. I look at the big picture: I tell my stories to Australians of all races and also to those beyond our shores. I am a part of the human race.”
Michelle moved from Pirlangimpi to Milikapiti in the 80’s. She attended high school at St John’s in Darwin and Slade in Brisbane. She has worked in counselling support for Indigenous Health, Relationship Australia and the Red Cross. She started painting at Jilamara with her partner Nick Mario in 2012, whilst raising three young girls. Michelle is a gallery assistant at Jilamara Arts and Crafts Association and a director on the board with the Association of Northern, Kimberley and Arnhem Aboriginal Artists. Michelle paints on canvas and paper and has recently made her first limited edition prints. Her works are based on the stories of Japarra the moon man and Tapalinga the stars, bush food and hunting. She is slowly developing her own Jilamara designs into these stories.
Patju Presley was born in the 1940s at Itaratjara, an important site between to the community setllement of Watarru
and Kalayapi in the Great Victoria Desert. He is a senior Pitjantjatjara Law man with great knowledge of the geography
of the Western Desert and the associated Tjukurpa. His inmate knowledge of the country is directly related to survival
in this beautiful but somemes harsh environment learned from the generations of his ancestors. Connections between the Land, the provider of food, water and shelter and the Tjukurpa a spiritual understanding of the world are finely interwoven in his paintings, creating works of an elegant abstracon. Each work is related to a specific site and ancestral beings and is strongly based on his experience and perception of the Law and the Land. When he was a young child he lived a traditional lifestyle walking along Tjukurpa tracks that linked sacred sites and water sources. From the tjilpis (old men) he learnt the ways of life in the desert and Anangu social order, law, culture,
Tjukurpa and ceremony. Patju first learnt about Christianity from Mr Wade, the missionary who came to the desert on
camel preaching the Bible and giving out tea and damper. When the mission was established Patju spent some me
there learning English to read and write hymns and Bible stories. Patju trained to be a preacher at the mission at
Ernabella. He is also a strong cultural man who practices traditional cultural business and inma (ceremonial singing and
dancing), carves punu (ceremonial and utalitarian objects) and hunts malu (kangaroo), kalaya (emu), kipara (bush
turkey) and rabbit. Patju resides at Tjuntjuntjara Community with his wife Ivy Laidlaw.
In his paintings Patju refers to many of the Tjukurpa of the country of the Great Victoria Desert including the Wa Kipara
(Bush Turkey), Wa Kutjara (Two Water-Snake Men), Kalaya (Emu), Wa Pira (Moon Man) and Minyma Kutjara (Two
Sisters). His images are visual representations of the epic journeys and creaon stories of the country. References to
important landforms, rockholes and Tjukurpa tracks implicitly evoke the tjukuritja beings (of the dreaming), their
interactions and acvies. References to features in the country by desert artists are heavily loaded with complex
symbolic meanings and interconnected layers of cultural references.
Reggie Uluru is tjilpi Yankuntjatjara, a Yankunytjatjara speaking senior Aboriginal man from the Central Desert of Australia. “I was born in Paramita near Indulkana in the bush, and was given my name at Todd Morden station. As a boy I was grow me up by my sister in the nearby station Amuroona, then as a young man in Mimili. I spent much of my working life as a stockman in the northern lands of South Australia before returning to my father’s country, Uluru. I was strong from hard work on horses, but my brother Cassidy was quicker. Mostly we looked after cattle, and somemes camels. Had to be careful as they were mean…bite you.” As a senior custodian, Reggie took part in the official handback of his lands by the Australian Federal Government in 1985. He then worked as a ranger in the jointly managed Uluru-Kata Tjuta National Park before becoming a tour guide with Anangu Tours. He has taught countless visitors his ancestral lore and is a senior singer for ceremony at Uluru. “I feel proud to teach young ones about Country, my Tjukurpa, our learning stories, about the family ancestors, the spirits, how to find the waterholes and best tucker. Show them the right way, the connection to culture how my father Paddy taught me long me. I now live at old people’s (aged care) in Mutitjulu, where I paint Wati Ngintaka. Perentie Lizard Man.” Reggie Uluru 2020
Richard Bell (b. 1953) lives and works in Brisbane, Australia. He works across painting, installation, performance and video. Bell is one of Australia’s most significant artists and his work explores the complex artistic and political problems of Western, colonial and Indigenous art production. He grew out of a generation of Aboriginal activists and has remained committed to the politics of Aboriginal emancipation and self-determination. In 2003 he was the recipient of the Telstra National Aboriginal Art Award. Bell is represented in most major Australian National and State collections, and has exhibited in a number of solo exhibitions at important institutions in Australia and America.
In 2013 he was included in the National Gallery of Canada’s largest show of International Indigenous art, Sakàhan, and at the Fifth Moscow Biennale of Contemporary Art. In 2014, Bell’s solo exhibition Embassy opened at the Perth Institute of Contemporary Arts, Perth. In 2015, Bell was a finalist in the Archibald Prize, presented a collaborative exhibition of new work with Emory Douglas at
Milani Gallery, and exhibited his major work Embassy 2013-ongoing as part of Performa 15, New York City and the 16th Jakarta Biennale, curated by Charles Esche. Bell also premiered a body of new work as part of the Queensland Art Gallery/Gallery of Modern Art’s 8th Asia Pacific Triennial of Contemporary Art, Brisbane. In early 2016, BELL invites… an exhibition of Bell and work by friends
and collaborators opened at the Stedelijk Museum SMBA, Amsterdam, and premiered a new sculptural commission as part of Sonsbeek 2016 at the Dutch Art Institute in Arnhem, Netherlands. Bell presented his Embassy as part of the 20th Biennale of Sydney, curated by Stephanie Rosenthal, at Cairns Indigenous Art Fair, the Institute of Modern Art, Brisbane, and most recently as part of the Jerusalem Show VIII. In 2017, Bell exhibited in The National: New Australian Art, a comprehensive survey of contemporary Australian art presented by the Museum of Contemporary Art, Art Gallery of New South Wales, and Carriageworks, Sydney. In 2018, he presented his solo exhibition Dredging up the Past at Gertrude Contemporary, Melbourne. In 2019, Bell took his Embassy project to the Venice Biennale as a collateral event and presented work at Padiglione d'Arte Contemporanea Milan. In 2021 Bell will be presenting a major solo exhibition and Embassy at the Tate Modern.
Sally M Nangala Mulda
Born 1957, Titjikala, Northern Territory. Lives and works Mparntwe (Alice Springs). Arrernte/Southern Luritja, Central Desert region
Maureen ‘Sally’ Nangala Mulda was born mid-winter 1957 in Titjikala community to Arrernte and Southern Luritja parents from the Aputula-Titjikala region. She had never painted prior to joining Tangentyere Artists, Mparntwe, in 2008 and has since been a finalist in the National Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Art Awards in 2012 and 2018. Mulda’s work has been acquired by several institutions and private collections. She has participated in numerous major exhibitions and held two successful solo exhibitions, No Trouble Here (2018) at Edwina Corlette Gallery, Brisbane, and Painting My Town Camp Stories (2016) at Raft Artspace, Mparntwe.
Samantha Hobson grew up in the small community of Lockhart River, located 800 kilometres north of Cairns. Many of the surrounding areas such as Claudie River, Quintell Beach, Chilli Beach and the Great Barrier Reef are reflected in her painting, although she now resides in Cairns. Samantha is one of the founding members of the Lockhart River ‘Art Gang’ established in 1995. Alongside imagery of her country, Samantha also paints her community and stories from the ‘old people’. Much of her earlier work focused on specific social issues such as suicide and domestic violence. Her most recent series, Flag Waves explores Australia’s colonial history and ongoing injustices. Whilst Samantha is familiar with exploring the more painful aspects of life, she also produces beautifully tranquil works that speak to her home country in Lockhart River. Thick layering of paints with bright marine colours are used to reflect Hobson’s memories of life on the reef with fish flashing past, coral, sea grass and the shallow water fading to deep. For the rainforest, majestic greens are used as background with multi-colour linear representations of vines and creeks as foreground. Hobson’s works are currently held in private and public collections both nationally and internationally including National Gallery of Australia, National Gallery of Victoria, Cairns Regional Gallery, University of Queensland Art Museum, Queensland University of Technology Art Museum, International Education Services (IES), Artbank, The Kluge-Ruhe Aboriginal Art Collection of the University of Virginia, Charlottesville, Virginia, USA and Columbus State University, Georgia, USA.
Timothy has been creating paintings, prints and carvings at Jilamara since 1999, his art is very personal to him; he likes the ‘old designs’ which he learnt from his elders. He especially likes dots (pwanga) as elements of his designs; dots are his ‘favourite special’ due to the fact that ochre dots are applied to his face for ceremonies. The dots are applied by his bunji – a kinship relationship term which means mate, or in-law. Timothy expresses himself through his loose, gestural, spacious designs. He paints exclusively with natural ochres, composing his paintings with pure instinct and without hesitation. His artworks are highly sort after for major collections both nationally and internationally. In 2012, he won the Major Award at the Telstra NATSIAA. In the last few years Timothy has focused on painting the Kulama. The Kulama ceremony is a traditional initiation for young men which coincides with the harvest of wild yam, and is performed in the late wet season (March-April) when a ring appears around the moon. Elders of both sexes sing and dance for three days, welcoming the boys into adulthood. The boy is then renamed with his true man’s name. The circles in his work symbolize the moon, yam and ritual circles of the Kulama ceremony, curators and art critics suggest the “cross” may reflect his spiritual life, his connection with the Catholic religion. Timothy also paints expansive canvases depicting Japarra the moon man. In 2018 Timothy’s work was selected for the inaugural King and Wood Mallesons Contemporary ATSI Art Prize.
Travis De Vries
Travis De Vries is a concept artist, podcaster, writer and producer known for fusing Gamilaroi storytelling with modern tropes, characters and themes. Travis works across multiple areas of practice using varying mediums to bring his ideas to life.
As an artist, Travis has created three solo exhibitions including Lost Tales, IDEAS& DRAFTS & LOOPS and The Hidden Garden, taking over Gallery Lane Cove and Muswellbrook Regional Arts Centre with a large experiential storytelling and sculptural work telling the story of Adam and Eve through a post-colonial Indigenous Futurism lens. He has also been a part of numerous group shows and art prizes. Travis creates unique, narrative led large-scale exhibitions combining multiple forms; paintings, drawings, projections and experiential sculptures focusing on recreating and evolving Indigenous and Western Mythologies for a modern era. Storytelling is at the heart of his practice, through the use of fable, metaphor, symbolism and storytelling tropes he invokes a deep connection with audiences to create an experiential style of work that is both unique and familiar.
Travis holds numerous awards and fellowships including; the Create NSW Aboriginal Arts Fellow 2018, The NASIDA Chairman’s Award 2012, and has been the recipient of many artist and writers residencies.
Throughout his career Travis has sought out international opportunities and collaborations and was notably an alumni of The British Council’s ACCELERATE in 2016, travelling to the United Kingdom to meet with likeminded creative, exploring future collaborations. Travis also organised and participated in numerous international arts residencies, he travelled to Paris, France, Barcelona, Spain and Dublin, Ireland in 2015 to visit art galleries, venues and arts organisation through the Sydney Opera House.
In addition to his work as an artist Travis has a wealth of producing experience; having worked as a producer for the Sydney Opera House and as an Independent consultant on a range of arts programmes. He has worked across large festivals including; Vivid Live, Graphic and Homeground, contemporary music, theatre and dance tours including; Damon Albarn, Flying Lotus and Hofesh Shector, and smaller, niche community projects such as Dance Rites, where Travis engaged Indigenous community dance groups across the country to converge on the Sydney Opera House for a two-day traditional dance competition, the first of it’s kind in the country.
Alongside his brother Texas, Travis is the co-host and producer of Broriginals, a comedy podcast that has grown a cult and has performed live at the Spotify Headquarters, Sydney, The Australian Museum, The Canberra Theatre Centre and The Toff in Town, Melbourne.
In 2020 Travis founded Awesome Black as a platform for First Nations digital based creative, podcasters and gamers, overseeing a building network, setting the standard for independent digital content produced and created by First Nations artists.