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Media Release
Senator the Hon Robert Hill
Leader of the Government in the Senate
Minister for the Environment

Prizewinning Glass Reflects Desert Heritage


8 April 1998
(34/98)

An ethereal 60 kg glass artwork from WA's remote Warburton Ranges has taken out the top prize in a major national art award for indigenous artists.

Environment Minister Robert Hill has announced the winners of the Australian Heritage Commission's Fourth National Indigenous Heritage Art Award.

Warburton artist, Ms Tjapartji Bates, has won the $18 000 Normandy Heritage Art Prize for her innovative glass panel, Tjukurrpa Kungkarangalpa.

Artworks from remote and urban Australia shared second prize.Naminapu Maymuru-White from Yirrkala, NT, and her large intricately painted bark of ancestral homelands, 'Manggalili', tied with Sydney artist, Rea, and her photographic triptych '100% Koori (Rea-probe Series)'.

The winners were announced at today's opening of The Art of Place exhibition in Kings Hall, Old Parliament House, Canberra.

Senator Hill says the exhibition features more than 120 works selected from a field of 200 entries from around Australia.

"The winners have been chosen for their ability to express through their art and through words just why a place was important to Australia's heritage and was worth keeping.

"The Art of Place offers more than $40 000 in prizes and is one of Australia's leading indigenous art awards. The Heritage Commission runs the award to raise awareness about Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander heritage places."

The entries range from traditional works, bark paintings and carvings (including a four-metre carved snake) through to contemporary oils, prints, photographs and even a work made from possum skins. Each entry was submitted with a heritage statement by the artist explaining why the place depicted was worth keeping.

Senator Hill says the artworks offer an insight into a wide range of places important to Aborigines and to Torres Strait Islanders.

"Entries have come from Bathurst Island to inner Sydney and represent traditional Dreaming sites through to significant urban places. Some works are serene, some are fierce-all are powerful. It is clear that many of the places depicted are closely linked with the artist's identity and are part of their heritage."

Ms Bates, a senior woman in the Warburton community, is the second woman to win the award. Previous winners were Ginger Riley Munduwalawala (1993), the late Lin Onus (1995) and Treahna Hamm (1996). The winning work, created especially for The Art of Place is the largest piece she has produced to date.

In her heritage statement, Ms Bates describes the special place she depicts in her work as being:

'...my country, my mother's and father's country, my grandmother's and grandfather's country'

The relief designs in the glass reflect the traditional practice of creating sand drawings to illustrate stories.

Other prize winners were:

Lin Onus Youth Prize:

Works on Paper Prize:

The Ngunnawal Emerging Artists Prize:

The Community Endeavour Prize:

Three artworks were also highly commended. They were:

All works will be on public exhibition in Kings Hall, Old Parliament House from 9 April to 10 May.

For further information contact:
Michele Parsons: (Heritage Commission) (02) 6217 2181

April 8, 1998 (34/98)

Commonwealth of Australia