THURSDAY Island-based artist Brian Robinson has won the Western Australian Indigenous Art Award, receiving $50,000 in prize money.
Mr Robinson’s works represent the customs of the Torres Strait Islander people as well as other cultural stories through printmaking, painting, sculpture, installation and design.
This year’s award was judged by curator of indigenous arts at the Art Gallery of Western Australia, Clotilde Bullen, art curator Hetti Perkins, and academic John Barret-Lendard, who noted the symbolism and use of mythology in Mr Robinson’s work.
“Brian’s work reveals images portrayed in the great tradition of the Renaissance frescoes that have been recast with traditional characters from Torres Strait Islands,” the judges said.
Sixteen of the 137 entries received from across Australia have been selected to exhibit at the Art Gallery of WA, where they will be available for viewing until January 2014.
The awards have a special category for local artists, with the judges’ selection recognised with a $10,000 prize. This year’s winner was Churchill Cann, a traditional medicine man for the Gija people in the east Kimberley.
His work involves the use of natural ochres and pigments on canvases to portray landscapes.
A people’s choice award, valued at $5,000, will be presented to the artist who receives the highest number of votes from the public throughout the exhibition period, and will be announced early next year.
Ms Bullen said the award attracted an eclectic variety of artworks.
“From subtle works of glass, to earthy soft sculptures made of recycled material and large-scale installations, the exhibition covers a wide range of artistic expression,” she said.
Founded in 2008 and run by Art Gallery, the Western Australian Indigenous Art Award offers the largest monetary arts prize available to Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people in Australia.
Another relatively young WA-based arts prize, the Black Swan Prize for Portraiture, is open to all Australians and offers its winner $45,000 in prizemoney, while the nation’s most prestigious arts competition, the Archibald Prize, awards $75,000 to its top entry.