Words: Charlotte Middleton
Artist and Pitjantjatara man Timo Hogan from the Spinifex Lands in Western Australia has taken out the coveted top award in the 2021 Telstra National Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Art Awards (NATSIAA).
The country’s longest-running Indigenous art awards named Hogan as winner of the $50,000 prize for his large-scale, monochromatic painting titled ‘Lake Baker’.
“I am very happy to have won this award,” said Hogan, the first artist from the Spinifex Lands to ever have won a NATSIAA. “It makes me feel strong inside.”
Hogan’s winning painting depicts Lake Baker and tells the story of the Tjukurpa within the landscape and the inhabitants that made it. In this representation of the Wati Kutjara Tjukurpa (Two Men creation line), the men watch carefully as the powerful Wanampi (water serpent) departs his home and travels the edge of the lake.
This year’s NATSIAA judging panel included Liz Nowell, director of the Institute of Modern Art, Brisbane; Dennis Stokes, chief executive of First Nations Media Australia, and Larrakia artist Denise Quall.
“A masterful painting of international calibre, Lake Baker heralds Timo Hogan as a remarkably confident artist with talent that exceeds his age and experience,” commented the judges.
“In a work of this scale, there is nowhere for an artist to hide: Timo’s restrained use of paint, texture and form not only demonstrates exceptional artistic instinct, but also his intimate connection to Country. Lake Baker is a mediative, connected and assured master work by one of Australia’s most exciting up and coming artists.”
In the emerging artist category, Kyra Mancktelow was named winner for her print Moongalba II, depicting the uniforms that Aboriginal children were forced to wear at Christian missions in the late 1800s.
Other category winners include Bugai Whyoulter for the general painting award; Dhambit Munuŋgurr for the bark painting award; the late M Wirrpanda for the works on paper Award; Hubert Pareroultja and Mervyn Rubuntja for the Wandjuk Marika 3D memorial award; and Pedro Wonaeamirri for the NT multimedia award. Members of the public vote are also able to vote for their favourite piece online.
An exhibition of the 65 winning and finalist works will be on view at Darwin’s Museum and Art Gallery of the Northern Territory until 6 February 2022. All works are also currently on display in an interactive virtual gallery: https://www.virtualmagnt.net.au/telstranatsiaa.
This article was originally published 9 August 2021.
Image: Timo Hogan (Pitjantjatjara language Tjuntjuntjara, WA), Lake Baker, 2020. Synthetic polymer paint on linen, 200 x 290cm. Courtesy: the artist and Spinifex Arts Project Aboriginal Corporation.