Warlayirti Artists, based in the Balgo, have confirmed that three of their artists have withdrawn their works from the shortlist of the Telstra National Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Art Awards.

Quoted from the article:

The Australian revealed two weeks ago that works from six central Australian art centres, all shortlisted for the final round, had been withdrawn from the event because of the quality of works allowed to enter.

They were pulled after works represented by private art dealer John Ioannou, who took over a western desert art centre two years ago, were accepted in the awards.

The article goes on to quote John Oster:

John Oster, executive officer of Desart, the umbrella group for Aboriginal art centres in central Australia, insisted the withdrawal was not a protest at the awards or the Museum and Art Gallery of the Northern Territory.

He declined to give details about the artists who had withdrawn, saying they did not wish to be identified.

“The others have withdrawn because they will not hang their work next to a particular work,” Mr Oster said. “They are not protesting against the award and they are not protesting against the gallery.”

However Mr Oster said the withdrawal of works sent a “silent and strong message” to award organisers. “Their relationship in this matter is strictly between themselves and the art gallery,” he said.

“They have never wanted to make this public. They have requested that we do not say who they are.”