63 finalists have been announced in the 2023 Telstra National Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Art Awards, Australia’s richest art awards, presented by the Museum and Art Gallery of the Northern Territory (MAGNT) and Principal Partner Telstra on Larrakia Country (Darwin).

There are 31 finalists from the Northern Territory, 13 from South Australia, 8 from Queensland, 6 from Western Australia, 2 from the Australian Capital Territory, 1 each from New South Wales, Tasmania and Victoria. 16 finalists fall under the emerging artist category. Which makes it a full house – every State and Territory represented, a rare event.

But this 40th year of the NATSIAAs brings more changes. Out go the two leaders who introduced the Awards last year – Telstra boss Andy Penn and MAGNT Director Marcus Schutenko; and in come Vicki Brady, new CEO of Telstra and Adam Worrall, new MAGNT Director. Next year it’s even possible that the whole show will be moved into town from the perfect ceremonial setting at Bullocky Point when the dedicated Northern Territory Art Gallery is opening.

Brady seems quite at home at Bullocky Point already though: “For four decades, NATSIAA has provided an opportunity for the rich and diverse stories of our First Nations people to be told. Telstra has been a part of the NATSIAAs for 32 years and last year we increased the prize pool to encourage more emerging and established artists to enter. The breadth and scope of the 2023 finalists is exceptional. I congratulate them all and we look forward to seeing the exhibition in August on Larrakia Country”.

The 2023 Telstra NATSIAA Selection Panelists were Hannah Presley, Senior Curator, Museums and Collections at University of Melbourne; Matt Poll, Manager Indigenous Programs at Sydney’s National Maritime Museum; and Rebekah Raymond, MAGNT’s Indigenous curator.

2023 Telstra NATSIAA Finalists are:

Australian Capital Territory
Brenda L Croft
Shaun Angeles Penangke

Alick Tipoti & Dhamuwkoedal
cultural team
Elisa Jane Carmichael
Janet Koongotema
Jimmy John Thaiday
Keith Wikmunea
Mandy Quadrio
Shirley Macnamara
Warraba Weatherall

New South Wales
Jingalu Craig

South Australia
Anne Nginyangka Thompson
Barbara Mbitjana Moore
Betty Campbell
Emma Singer
Frank Young
George Cooley
Iluwanti Ken
Mrs Heffernan
Naomi Kantjuriny
Rachael Lionel
Tanya Van Horen
Umatji Tanya Tjapalyi
Yaritji Tingila Young

Northern Territory
Arnold Joseph Tipiloura
Balwaldja Wanapa Munuŋgurr
Billy Tjamptjinpa Kenda
Carbiene McDonald Tjangala
Dhalmula Burarrwaŋa
Dhopiya Yunupiŋu
Doris Arlyetilhe Thomas
Dulcie Sharpe
Gaypalani Waṉambi
Glen Namundja
Graham Badari
Gunybi Ganambarr
Harry Guyumbirrirr Malibirr
Janice Murray Pungautiji
Joanne Napangardi Wheeler
Julie Nangala Robertson
Kaye Brown
Mary Dhapalany
Matthew Teapot Djipurrtjun
Motorbike Paddy Ngale
Muluymuluy Wirrpanda
Naminapu Maymuru-White
Napuwarri Marawili
Noeleen Danjibana Lalara
Nyinta Donald
Owen Yalandja
Raelene Kerinauia Lampuwatu
Samson Bonson
Stanley Ebatarinja
Wurrandan Marawili
Yalmakany Marawili

Jeanette James

Jahkarli Felicitas Romanis

Western Australia
Betty Bundamurra
Corban Clause Williams
Eileen Bray Joomena
Michael Jalaru Torres
Patrick Mung Mung
Wendy Huber

Some emerging names may be unfamiliar, such as Shaun Angeles Penangke, who is the Artwe-kenhe (Men’s) Collection Researcher at the Strehlow Research Centre in Alice Springs; Jingalu Craig is a Bunjulung, Gumbaynggirr and Yeagle woman from the mid-North coast of NSW; and Jahkarli Romanis is a proud Pitta Pitta woman, emerging artist, researcher and curator based on Kulin Land.

Meanwhile some grand old names continue to feature – Torresian Alick Tipoti, Yolngu innovator Guynbi Ganambarr, Maningrida sculptor Owen Yalandja, former General Painting Award winner Barbara Mbitjana Moore, and Canberra photographer Brenda Croft. Three Marawili’s also appear from Ganambarr’s Buku Larrnggay Art Centre, but WA looks surprisingly thin on the ground. And is it seven or eight works from the APY Lands – presumably MAGNT is satisfied about their creation in this difficult time (See my APYACC reports and the Australia Council’s concerns expressed in a national zoom yesterday).

Right now MAGNT has an interesting historical selection ‘40 : Celebrating four decades of the National Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Art Awards’ is now open at MAGNT, though it takes a bit of finding on the Museum’s website. Seems it opened on 29th April, and I can’t find a closing date. The inaugural winner in what was then called the National Aboriginal Art Award was the late Michael Nelson Jagamara with Three Ceremonies.