Northern Territory artist Gunybi Ganambarr has taken out this year’s $50,000 Telstra Art Award. From the remote community of Gan Gan in East Arnhem Land, Ganambarr was selected the overall winner at this year’s Telstra National Aboriginal & Torres Strait Islander Art Awards (NATSIAA) for his intricate etching, Buyku.

Gunybi Ganambarr with this work, Buyku

The winning work depicts the congregation of the Dhalwangu clan for fish trap ceremonies, highlighting how these rituals bring together the Yolŋu. Represented through a weave of etched forms depicting water and fish traps, Buyku honours Ganambarr’s forefathers, particularly his Dhalwangu mari [grandfathers]. It also explores the attainment of cultural knowledge over time and the artist’s own journey.

Buyku was declared the winner by a judging panel assembled by the NATSIAA exhibition curator, the Museum and Art Gallery of the Northern Territory. The panel included Kelly Gellatly, Director of the Ian Potter Museum of Art at the University of Melbourne; Glenn Iseger-Pilkington, independent curator and art consultant; and Judith Inkamala, artist and senior member of the Hermannsburg Potters.

The judges described Buyku as both commanding and powerful, demonstrating the artist’s insight into culture and ceremony. They also commended his command of materials and processes, which have resulted in a work that engages the viewer physically, intellectually and emotionally.

“The quality of the artworks in this year’s awards are the strongest I have seen,” said MAGNT Director Marcus Schutenko. “The layout of the gallery has been designed in a completely new way to complement the diversity of forms in the exhibition. I expect audiences will feel a significant sense of discovery when they come to the 35th Telstra NATSIAA.”

Five other 2018 NATSIAA winners have been announced, with each artist winning $5000 each. South Australian artist Peter Mungkuri has won the Telstra General Painting Award; Northern Territory artist Kathy Inkamala has won the Telstra Works on Paper Award; Northern Territory artist Napuwarri Marawili has won the Telstra Bark Painting Award; Northern Territory artist Wukun Wanambi has won the Wandjuk Marika Memorial 3D Award; Northern Territory Artist Patrina Liyadurrkitj Mununggurr has won the Telstra Multimedia Award; and Northern Territory artist Matthew Dhamuliya Gurriwiwi has won the Telstra Emerging Artist Award.

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