As one year’s Telstra National Aboriginal & Torres Strait Islander Art Awards ends – the 2022 exhibition closing on January 15th in Darwin – so another begins. Entries are now open for the 2023 prizes which will be selected in August.

For 2022, Juanella McKenzie from Port Augusta South Australia has been announced as the Telstra People’s Choice Award winner, in this year’s Awards, presented by the Museum and Art Gallery of the Northern Territory (MAGNT) in partnership with Telstra. McKenzie was one of 63 finalists from across Australia were selected from a total of 221 entries.

Significantly, her winning woven basket, called ‘Hold Me’ (2022), was a fibre work like the ‘Big Telstra’ winner, Margaret Rarru Gurrawarra’s mighty woven Macassan sail. This ‘women’s work’ is obviously popular both for professional curators and the general public. Juanella McKenzie has explained that her small but complex work work symbolises five generations of women connected through the artist’s female line, passed from great grandmother, grandmother, mother to her daughters.

The artist commented: “It’s amazing that this has touched people’s lives. It is about bringing honour to the women who come before us, and after us. I am very grateful. My dishes are woven with a cloth or hair belonging to or fibre representing, through time, our DNA intertwined and becoming one”.

Adam Worrall, MAGNT Director congratulated Juanella, and said, “We are thrilled people got behind this incredible South Australian artist, who sends a beautiful message about matriarchy, tradition and knowledge sharing in her artwork. It was a privilege to meet Juanella and listen to her artist talk when she visited MAGNT for the Telstra NATSIAA opening.’

To see all of the 2022 Finalists, click through here

2023 Entries close on Friday 17th March