Clash of cultures wins

Aboriginal Art Directory | 16.08.09

News source: NT News

THE winner of the 2009 National Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Art Award has been announced and is set to be the most controversial in many years.

At a ceremony in Darwin last night, the $40,000 Telstra Award was given to Canberra artist Danie Mellor for his work From Rite to Ritual, a large drawing on paper done with crayon, pencil and glitter pen.

The work is a dramatic departure from recent winners, which have had a style more readily identifiable as Aboriginal art.

It depicts the inside of a Masonic temple that is also playing home to marsupials, birds and dancing Aborigines.

The proud winner said his picture illustrated a clash of cultures, with the temple representing Europeans and the dancing men and native animals representing indigenous culture.

"The structure of the temple is symbolic of the use of architecture that relates to western civilisation, and even settlement and colonisation," he said.

"You have the built structure as opposed to the natural environment of Aboriginal culture.

"It's that tension between the natural and unnatural which I find really interesting to explore."

Mellor, 38, is from the Mamu and Ngagan language groups in Queensland and was born in Mackay.

He is a lecturer at the University of Sydney.

Award judge Elizabeth Ann Macgregor said she didn't mind if the choice was controversial.

She said she and co-judge Carly Lane were looking for works that pushed the boundaries of their category.

"Hopefully it will get people thinking about the issues ... what is Aboriginal art, can it be defined these days?" she said.

The $4000 category prizes went to Yinarupa Nangala (painting), Rerrkirrwanga Munungurr (bark painting), Glen Namundja (works on paper) and Janine McAullay Bott (3-D works).

The 2009 National Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Art Award is now open at the Museum and Art Gallery of the NT.


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Contact Details

Gallery: Telstra National Aboriginal & Torres Strait Islander Art Award
Address: Conacher Street Bullocky Point Darwin NT

Gallery: Museum and Art Gallery of the Northern Territory
Contact: Marcus Schutenko
Telephone: +61 8 8999 8264
Address: 19 Conacher Street Fanny Bay 0820 NT



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