Arnhem Land artist Djirirra Wunungmurra has been voted the People’s Choice Award winner as part of this year’s 29th Telstra National Aboriginal & Torres Strait Islander Art Award.

The 44-year-old artist received 118 votes of the 1544 votes cast for her bark painting Yukuwa, which is one of the artist’s personal names and is also a yam, whose annual reappearance is a metaphor for the increase and renewal of the people and their land

Museum and Art Gallery of the Northern Territory (MAGNT) Director Pierre Arpin and Telstra Area General Manager for the Northern Territory, Brian O’Keefe congratulated Ms Wunungmurra on her win.

Yukuwa was one of 63 works featured as part of the 29th Telstra National Aboriginal & Torres Strait Islander Art Award that has so far attracted an audience of more than 46,000 people since the exhibition opened in August.

Mr Arpin said many of the visitors to MAGNT who had viewed this year’s NATSIAAs exhibition had praised the high quality of work presented, with Yukuwa a noticeable standout.

“Yukuwa is a remarkable bark for both its subtlety of colour and complexity of form,” Mr Arpin said.

“The use of the yam imagery radiating from the centre to the outer edges of the bark makes this a most magical work.

“We are also very pleased to have acquired this bark which is now part of our Telstra NATSIAA collection.”

Mr O’Keefe congratulated Ms Wunungmurra on receiving the People’s Choice Award and commended all 63 artists represented in this year’s exhibition.

“Each year we see some of the finest Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander artists represented in the Telstra Art Award, it’s fantastic that so many people have had the opportunity to view the exhibition here in Darwin and also online around the world.”

Tiwi Islands artist Timothy Cook won the $40,000 Telstra Award in August for his insightful painting Kulama that demonstrates his strong connection to culture and country, at the 29th Telstra National Aboriginal & Torres Strait Islander Art Award.

In addition to the Telstra Art Award, $4,000 prizes were awarded in four other categories:

The Telstra General Painting Award was awarded to South Australian artist Barbara Moore for her untitled synthetic polymer on canvas that depicts the Anangu Pitjantjatjara lands.

The Telstra Bark Painting Award was awarded to Arnhem Land artist Djirirra Wunungmurra for her work Yukuwa, which is one of the personal names of this artist. Yukuwa is a yam whose annual reappearance is a metaphor for the increase and renewal of the people and their land.

The Telstra Work on Paper was awarded to South Australian artist Raymond Zada for his work Racebook, which is a Giclee print on Hahnemuhle FineArt photo rag. Racebook is a response to racist comments posted in two Facebook groups. The letters of Racebook are formed from actual comments posted in those two groups. They give a snapshot of some people’s attitude toward, and perceptions of Aboriginal people in Australia. Racebook represents the artist’s purging of the hateful comments while raising awareness of the attitudes being expressed in social media.

The Wandjuk Marika Memorial Three-Dimensional Award, sponsored by Telstra, was awarded to Maningrida artist Jack Nawilil for his work Namorroddo. Mr Nawilil has used paperbark, bush string, natural pigments, beeswax and feathers to create this work that tells the story of Namorroddo who was travelling for a long time in a dream from Gapuwiyak to Ramingining looking for honey.

Now in its 29th year, the Telstra Art Award is the longest-running art award dedicated to the work of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander artists, and has come to be regarded as one of the premier national events on the Australian Indigenous art calendar.

Artworks in this year’s exhibition are featured in an online gallery and on an interactive website www.nt.gov.au/natsiaa which offers users from around the world the opportunity to view moving images of this year’s artworks and listen to recordings of the stories behind the works through a virtual online gallery.

The 29th Telstra National Aboriginal & Torres Strait Islander Art Award exhibition will be on display at the Museum and Art Gallery of the Northern Territory until Sunday, 28 October 2012.

Check out one of her works here in our Gallery

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Artist: Djirirra Wunungmurra

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