He may not win the judges’ favour, but West Australian Nyoongar artist Shane Pickett just keeps on picking up the Peoples’ Choice prizes. He’s won the WA Indigenous Art public’s choice for the second year in a row. And he’s taken out the new NATSIAA’s online peoples’ choice award.
The WA Art Gallery experimented with combining live and online voting in its single viewers’ award from its beginning in 2008. It’s a little more logical than the NATSIAA decision to add a second award this year for the first time. What do we make of the visitors to Darwin’s MAGNT preferring Samantha Hobson’s work Wave Bust…Windy Night to Pickett’s To Stand in a run off fresh water stream that was chosen by on-line voters? Clearly the semi-abstract style that both artists favour is popular!
In Perth, the assessment is that ‘visitors have responded to the confident sweeping gestures of Pickett’s hand on the canvas and his ability to depict via abstraction the subject of the six Nyoongar seasons, a subject about which the Balladong man is intimately knowledgeable. In Darwin, online voters from as far afield as Spain, the USA and France have added comments such as: The painting is organic, full of life and movement ¦  It grabs your attention and pulls you in ¦ A powerful painting of movement, colour and form.
Shane Pickett has been painting since the age of 16 in 1973 and had the good fortune to fall in with Diane Mossenson when she opened her first Indigenart gallery in Perth in 1993. Since then his work has entered the NGA, MAGNT and NGV collections, as well as appearing in exhibitions in Scotland, Singapore and Paris. He uses a studio attached to the Indigenart gallery. His own comment in the WA Art Gallery catalogue was: My paintings speak of the changes in the land that I have witnessed and watched. It speaks of the travels of those Elders and gifted people who hold this knowledge. In my paintings, and in my own personal Dreaming journey I try to honour their teachings, their knowledge and their law.
This is well reflected in the title of one of his chosen WA works, Medicine Grounds that become ready during Bunaroo “ one of the Nyoongar seasons.
Let’s not forget the judges selections in both Awards “ Danie Mellor winning the Big Telstra in Darwin, and Ricardo Idagi taking home the $50,000 awarded in Perth for his extraordinary Torres Strait masks and head-pieces.
The Darwin exhibition at MAGNT is closed already, however the website (www.nt.gov.au/nretas) will continue to provide a virtual experience of all 93 pre-selected artworks in the 26th Telstra National Aboriginal & Torres Strait Islander Art Award.
The WA Indigenous Art Awards continue at the Art Gallery of Western Australia until this weekend “ 15 November.