Sad news from Darwin that the Museum and Art Gallery of the NT (MAGNT) has decided that there’s so much COVID uncertainty about that they cannot hold the traditional opening prize-giving ceremony for the Telstra National Aboriginal & Torres Strait Islander Art Awards as planned on Friday 6th August because it would potentially involve vulnerable First Nations artists from all over the country. The exhibition of the 65 finalists announced in April will, however go ahead, and be available online.

The finalists were selected by Wadjarri, Nhanda and Nyoongar Artist and former NATSIAA Judge, Glenn Iseger-Pilkington; Gulumirrgin (Larrakia), Wadaman and Karajarri woman and National Gallery of Australia curator, Tina Baum; Trawlwoolway Artist and curator, Julie Gough. Their names are here.

Judges have been appointed to pick seven winners from the 65, but MAGNT is so nervous about being unable to transport them to Darwin in August, they’ve asked me to not to reveal their names!

They currently include a cultural leader from The Kimberley, a Victorian Indigenous curator and a Brisbane-based non-Indigenous gallery director. None from the troubled NSW. Let’s hope they can fulfil their commitments.

Of course, the concurrent Darwin Aboriginal Art Fair has already announced an intention to go-online in August, though DAAF’s associated National Indigenous Fashion Awards and Country to Couture will still be taking place on 3rd and 4th August.

Meanwhile, the related Salon des Refuses and associated curated shows looks set to continue – though the Salon website  now says it is partnering with DAAF and going online only.

Stand-alone shows slated are: ‘Murrŋiny‘ : New Forms in East Arnhem Metal; solo shows by Carbiene McDonald from Papunya Tjupi, Patsy Mudgedell from Balgo and Spinifex man Timo Hogan; ‘Waltja Tjuta‘, new painted and stitched works celebrating family by Yarrenyty-Arltere Artists; and ‘Maru munu piranpa/Black and white‘ showcases a selection of outstanding works by leading Kaltjiti artists including Taylor Cooper, Witjiti George, Matjangka (Nyukana) Norris and Imitjala Curley.

Regarding the pioneering Buku Larrnggay Art Centre show, ‘Murrŋiny‘, the Salon website says: “Hit by shotguns, burnt by dry season fires, rusted by monsoonal rain, discarded signs litter Territory roadsides. The power of the rules and warnings they once shouted have faded like their glossy reflective paint.” A group of seven Yolŋu artists from Yirrkala have come to rescue, recycle and rework these battered warriors in ways which have never been seen before. The artists involved are Wukun Wanambi, Wanapati Yunupiŋu, Barayuwa Munuŋgurr, Gunybi Ganambarr, Binygurr Wirrpanda, Ganpilbil Maymuru and Wurrandan Marawili