More than 150 Aboriginal artists have been cut down to just 16 to contest Australia’s richest indigenous art prize at the Art Gallery of WA next month.

WA artists make up at least a quarter of the finalists in the new $50,000 WA Indigenous Art Award, with a number of others dividing their time between desert communities across the State border.

The announcement of the finalists yesterday erases the fingerprints of former premier Alan Carpenter, who had labelled the prize the WA Premier’s Indigenous Art Award when he launched it in June.

Among the 16 contenders are Perth-based Shane Pickett, Jean Baptiste Apuatimi from the Tiwi Islands, Sydneysider Gordon Hookey, Turkey Creek elder Patrick Mung Mung, Brisbane artist and academic Fiona Foley and Balgo painter Patrick Tjungurrayi.