Australia’s most important indigenous art prize will sail on into its 26th edition in August this year – with entries for it closing on Friday, 27 March 2009. Last year’s Silver Jubilee of what are often called The Telstras attracted more than 300 entries, and Museum and Art Gallery Northern Territory (MAGNT) Acting Director, Apolline Kohen is hoping to see some equally great quality Indigenous art works in 2009.

We always look forward to the arrival of entries; it’s the first step towards another exciting year for the Telstra Art Award, which gives Indigenous artists from all around Australia a fantastic opportunity to gain significant exposure for their artworks.

For the rest of us the important news is that Telstra has renewed its sponsorship of the Awards despite the messy political situation last year when several desert community art centres boycotted the event. They wanted tighter conditions of entry – but a study of the conditions on the MAGNT website doesn’t suggest any major changes made at the boycotters’ behest. Indeed, even the categories for entry are unchanged – which will surprise those who found last year’s gorgeous bark + video by Nyapanyapa Yunupingu a strange choice for the 3D works category.

What is different in 2009 is that this year’s final judges – Liz-Ann McGregor from Sydney’s MCA and Carli Lane, indigenous curator at the WA Art Gallery – will take part in the selection procedure ab initio. They will study all 300-odd photo entries in April before the announcement of the finalists on May 1st.

The Big Telstra Award of $40 000 and the other four media categories will again be non-acquisitive in 2009, meaning that the winning artists can retain their entry and gain further financial benefit from the sale of the work.

Last year’s winners – headed by Makinti Napanangka – and this year’s entry conditions, which simply encourage all Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander artists over the age of 18 to enter before 27th March, can be viewed at