Presented since 1993, the Red Ochre Award acknowledges the outstanding contribution of an artist to the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander world at national and international levels. It was presented as part of the 6th National Indigenous Arts Awards, held at the Sydney Opera House on 27 May.

And, if that seems an eternity ago, it has taken this long to obtain images to go with the information from an incredibly slow Australia Council! But, it’s still significant enough to record.

Also presented was the $20,000 Dreaming Award, for a young and emerging Indigenous artist, which went to Rhonda Unurupa Dick, a photographer from the APY Lands in South Australia; and two fellowships of $45,000 per year over two years to visual artist, Jennifer Kemarre Martiniello; and writer, activist and musician Richard Frankland.

The Red Ochre Award for (actor, artist, musician and dancer) David Gulpilil is wonderful acknowledgement from his peers of David’s continual efforts to bring the experiences and wishes of his people to national and international attention, said Lee-Ann Buckskin, Chair of the Australia Council’s Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Arts Board. He is unquestionably one of the most respected Australian actors on the international film stage, and a major contributor to the voice of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islanders.

David Gulpilil was first cast in the 1971 film Walkabout because of his talents as a dancer. He was just 15 and had never acted before. Since then he has appeared in films that have been milestones in Australian cinema, which include Storm Boy, Mad Dog Morgan, The Last Wave, Crocodile Dundee, Two Hands, Rabbit Proof Fence, The Tracker, Ten Canoes, Australia and Satellite Boy.

Director Rolf de Heer (of The Tracker and Ten Canoes) says David’s performance in Walkabout, was so strong, so imbued with a new type of graceful naturalism, that it redefined perceptions of Aboriginality in the field of acting for the screen. For The Tracker, David received numerous awards including Best Actor at both The Australian Film Institute Awards and the Film Critics Circle Awards.

Twenty-six year old Rhonda Unurupa Dick is the recipient of the 2013 Dreaming Award, which is given to an artist aged between 18 and 26 to support them to create a major body of work, while being mentored by another established professional artist or by an arts institution nominated by the artist.

Rhonda is Pitjantjatjara and a photographic artist from the community of Amata. Soon after starting a job as an arts worker at the local Tjala Arts Centre in 2012, she discovered her love of photography and devoted herself to its practice.

Rhonda’s work is about her family, her community and her country, says Lee-Ann. It attracted attention as soon as she started to show it, receiving the inaugural Desart Annual Aboriginal Arts Worker Prize 2012, for her series entitled ‘My great grandmothers’ country. Rhonda will use her prize to study photography at the Australian Centre for Photography in Sydney under the mentorship of photographer Nici Cumpston. After spending a year developing new work, Rhonda’s works will be displayed in solo exhibitions at the Outstation Gallery in Darwin and Gallery Gabriella Pizzi in Melbourne.

Fellowship recipient Jennifer Kemarre Martiniello is a Southern Arrernte woman. She is an award winning poet, writer, and visual artist as well as an academic, teacher and community leader. In 2008 the Adelaide-born artist, now resident in Canberra, worked with glass for the first time and was immediately hooked on the medium.

Since then she has become known for her extraordinary evocations of traditional weaving in hot blown glass. Jennifer’s Fellowship will allow her to undertake an extensive program of glass blowing, kiln work and coldworking to create a significant body of as many as 90 pieces based on traditional Aboriginal woven eel traps, fish traps, baskets, fish scoops and dillibags.

And, of course, her name has become familiar since May as Martiniello won the Big Telstra in Darwin’s NATSIA Awards in August. It’s been a very good year for her!