In only its second year, the Northern Territory’s Toga Contemporary Art Award is touring the Top End. It opens in Alice Spring tomorrow, moving to Tennant Creek in November and Katherine in December.

Readers familiar with the Telstra Awards will assume that this is another indigenous art award. In fact, of the 33 finalists selected from 124 NT resident original entries, it’s about 50/50 Black and white. But it was the Yolgnu artist Djirrirra Wunungmurra from Arnhemland who was named the winner of the $15,000 prize at a ceremony held at the Darwin Convention Centre back in June.

The new Convention Centre and the Waterfront development where the first of 33 pieces of public art was installed at the same time, is a joint partnership between the NT Government and the Toga Group, guided by its Executive Chairman, Ervin Vidor, a noted Sydney art lover and collector.

Djirrirra Wunungmurra’s ‘Dhalwangu Gapu – 5 Memorial Poles’ is a work that reflects the young woman’s understanding of Yolgnu water rights in Eastern Arnhemland, capturing the different levels of salinity and silt contamination as they affect water flow. Encased in the strong lines of the water is a fishtrap made from paperbark.

Other contenders for the Toga prize were Ronnie Tjampitjinpa’s Untitled painting – a gorgeous return to form; Therese Ritchie’s naive work about acceptance of great hardship – not unrelated to the Intervention; Tobias Richardson’s wacko bamboo skewer construction; and the Kuninjku Marina Murdilinga’s woven tribute to the Moon Dreaming of her father, Mick Kubarrku