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Western Australian Indigenous Art Awards recipients announced

16 Aug 2011
Timothy Cook Kulama 2011, ochre and acrylic binder on linen.

Culture and the Arts Minister John Day announced the Western Australian Indigenous Arts Awards 2011 recipients at the Art Gallery of Western Australia’s awards ceremony last night.

Mr Day said the national awards and exhibition, now in their fourth year, have cemented their place as a nationally significant initiative in Australia’s indigenous arts sector.

“Each year, the awards provide a significant opportunity to celebrate WA artists, bring interstate artists to our State, and to present local and international audiences with some of the most impressive indigenous art in Australia,” he said.

“This year’s award exhibition will also provide excellent exposure for artists during the Commonwealth Heads of Government Meeting to be held in Perth this October.”

The Minister presented the Western Australian Indigenous Art Award for 2011 to Gunybi Ganambarr and the Western Australian Artist Award of $10,000 to Jan Billycan.

“Gunybi Ganambarr was selected from 16 exhibiting finalists from across Australia to win the $50,000 prize,” Mr Day said.

“Gunybi Ganambarr’s innovative use of unexpected materials such as conveyor belt rubber and insulation material, takes a traditional form in a new direction, while maintaining and celebrating Yolngu culture.

“Jan Billycan’s expressionistic style and beautiful depictions of the country around her birth-site, Kirriwirri, will be a major drawcard for exhibition visitors.”

The Minister said the exhibition included sculpture, video, painting and photography by three artists from Western Australia and 13 artists from other parts of Australia.

“The awards exhibition once again celebrates diversity across indigenous Australian art and culture, featuring works that explore contemporary indigenous identity, and striking depictions of country from across Australia,” he said.

The award winners were selected by a panel of four judges with specialist knowledge and experience in indigenous and Australian visual art: 

  • Tina Baum, and Glenn Iseger-Pilkington: curators of Indigenous Art
  • Robert Cook: a curator of contemporary Australian art
  • Professor Howard Morphy: author and anthropologist. 

A People’s Choice Award of $5,000 is awarded to the most popular artist, as voted by exhibition visitors. Voting closes 5pm, Sunday November 20 and the winning artist will be announced online on Thursday November 24.

The Western Australian Indigenous Art Awards 2011 runs from August 13 through to December 19 and will be on display during the Commonwealth Festival, which will be staged alongside CHOGM. 

Full details are available at   


Timothy Cook Kulama 2011, ochre and acrylic binder on linen.

120.0 x 90.0 cm. Purchased through the TomorrowFund, Art Gallery of Western Australia Foundation, 2011.

© the artist, courtesy of Jilamara Arts & Crafts and Seva Frangos Art.