Canberra-based artist Danie Mellor has been awarded Australia’s prestigious Indigenous art prize – the national Telstra Art Award, at the 26th Telstra National Aboriginal & Torres Strait Islander Art Award for his work titled From Rite to Ritual.
He was presented with the $40,000 Telstra Award tonight by Professor Marcia Langton, Chair, Museums and Art Galleries Board of the Northern Territory, and Telstra Country Wide Group Managing Director, Brett Riley at the Museum and Art Gallery of the Northern Territory (MAGNT) in Darwin.
From Rite to Ritual explores the encounter and fragile co-existence between Indigenous and non-Indigenous, or settler cultures. The work highlights the importance of secret and public ceremony and initiation in both cultures; it speaks of the challenges of settlement, and the differences in spiritual enactment and belief.
Danie was born in Mackay, Qld, in 1971 and was educated in South Australia, South Africa, Canberra and England before completing his PhD at the School of Art, National Institute of the Arts, Australia National University. Currently working as Lecturer of Theories of Art Practice at the University of Sydney, Danie’s work had previously been highly commended in the Telstra National Aboriginal & Torres Strait Islander Art Award in 2003 and 2007.
In addition to the Telstra Award, prizes were awarded in four other categories: the $4,000 Telstra General Painting Award was awarded to Yinarupa Nangala from Kiwirrkurra in Western Australia for her untitled work; the $4,000 Telstra Bark Painting Award was awarded to Rerrkirrwanga Munungurr from Wandawuy (East Arnhem Land) Northern Territory for her work Gumatj Gurtha; the $4,000 Telstra Works on Paper was awarded to Glen Namundja from Gubalanya (Western Arnhem Land) Northern Territory for his work Likkanaya and Marrayka; the $4,000 Wandjuk Marika Three-Dimensional Memorial Award, sponsored by Telstra, was awarded to Janine McAullay Bott from Perth for her work Dhalkatj – Bilby.
The works will be on display at MAGNT until Sunday, 25 October 2009. Artworks and recordings of the story behind the works in this year’s exhibition will also be featured on a virtual online gallery at www.nt.gov.au/natsiaa
Danie Mellor with his winning work, From Rite to Ritual. Winner of the Telstra Award, 26th Telstra National Aboriginal & Torres Strait Islander Art Award 2009. Image courtesy of the MAGNT.