Ashleigh Wilson from the Australian talks to Cecilia Alfonso from Warlukurlangu Artists Aboriginal Association about the boycott of the 2008 Telstra awards.

Speaking from Melbourne ahead of the opening last night of an exhibition by Yuendumu artist Judy Napangardi Watson, Ms Alfonso said the Telstra awards needed a rethink.

Ms Alfonso said organisers should change the selection criteria because it was no longer the only game in town.

This year’s winners will be announced in two weeks in Darwin, with $40,000 for the most outstanding work.

“There are so many other indigenous art awards coming up that the Telstra is going to need to reassess (itself),” she said.

Ms Alfonso said she supported the protest but did not understand why Desart, the organisation representing central Australian art centres, was reluctant to have the issue debated in public.

“I don’t understand why you would make a stand like that and then say you don’t want to publicise it,” she said.

All but two of the 20 paintings by Watson had been sold ahead of last night’s exhibition opening. The cost of the works ranged from $770 to $39,000.