Natsia 2022: Raru Aboriginal artist wins first prize for handwoven sail | Aboriginal art

The hand-woven “huge” pandan sail, which symbolizes the centuries-old relationship between Yulengo in Arnhem Land and their neighbors from Makasan in Indonesia, has won first prize at the prestigious National Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander (Natsia) Art Awards.

Margaret Raro-Garaura, a prominent Yolengo artist from Lanara in Arnhem Land, has created a stunning 2.8m high hand-woven Pandanus sail over several months of daily work.

Graura, who won the Bark Painting Prize in 2005, said she was “proud and happy” to win the $100,000 main prize for Domala (Pandanus’ sail), which relates to her cultural identity and connection to her father, as well as the history and enduring relationships between the Yolngu people and Macassans.

A handwoven 2.8m high pandan sail hangs in an open gallery space
The winning hand-woven 2.8-meter pandan sail is on display in Darwin. Photo: Mark Sherwood/Magnet

“I was with my sisters when I learned of the win. We were very happy. It makes us proud to take the first prize,” said Garrawurra, better known as Rarru.

“People in Yolengo were watching the Makasan people weaving their clothes dhomala Over time…then they started making it. My father also acquired the skill. He used to make it.

“I thought how my dad made them, and I started to remember. Now I’m making these.”

The sail features distinctive stripes of black-dyed pandanus. As a senior weaver at the Milingimbi Center for the Arts, Rarru knows the recipe for creating black mall (dye) you use – and you use it mall Reserved for her, and for whom she authorizes.

Colorful painting of Mrs. D Yunupingu showing pink flowers and some abstract shapes on a large piece of cloth
Mrs. D Yunupingu won the Bark Award for her colorful work that retells the story of the mermaid. Photo: Mark Sherwood/Magnet

Raro said the work took months to create, from collecting pandanus and dyes in July last year, and weaving from October to March “every day, from morning to night” before it was completed.

Natsia’s judges said the work was “a colossal sculpture, majestic in size and requiring artistic prowess.”

“It is a powerful work that reminds us that the Yolngo have long been energetic and daring explorers, and have been involved in international trade long before the arrival of the Europeans,” said Miles Russell Cook and Dr Joanna Parkman, the judges.

The winner of the work on paper was Larrakia artist Gary Lee for a beautiful portrait of his grandfather, decorated with white flowers.

The late Mrs. D Yunupingu of Yirrkala won the Bark Award for her delightful retelling of the important mermaid story which is also the story of her relationship with her father and her traditional sea country. Mrs. Yunupingu, who became a master painter like her sisters late in her life, used bright purple from printer cartridges to create the background on which the ghostly mermaids sit, representing sea creatures as well as the stars of the night sky.

From the Buku-Larrnggay Mulka Center for the Arts, Merrkiawuy Ganambarr-Stubbs received the award on behalf of the beloved “Lady Mermaid”.

“The mermaid is the spirit who revealed herself to her father, my grandfather, on Wessel Island when they were living there in the late 1930s,” Janambar Stubbs said.

Janambar-Stubbs said the painting captures the effervescent spirit of Ms. Yunobinfu.

“[In the painting room] You could always hear her across the room, laughing and she was always saying, “Wow!” That was her favorite word.

“If she were here, that’s what she’d say: That’s cool!”

Darnley Island’s Jimmy Tayday won a multimedia award for an animated film about the impact of climate change on his island and a nearby sandpit, now almost entirely underwater. Taide said the $15,000 prize will help him do more to tackle the climate change crisis in the Torres Strait.

“I encourage all the younger generation to get up and speak up, if they feel helpless about climate change,” Tayday said. “It really affects our sand switch, it affects the breeding seasons of animals, birds, plants, our ability to go out there and talk to the little ones about our traditions.”

An installation at Natsia 2022 featuring boxed characters in front of poster graphics
Some of the artwork displayed as part of Natsia 2022. Photo: Mark Sherwood/Magnet

There are 63 finalists from across Australia, representing more than 44 different countries and language groups, said Rebecca Raymond, Curator of Aboriginal Art and Material Culture at MAGNT.

“This year, I’ve seen the re-emergence of powerful works that are handcrafted into truly tangible practices – carving, ceramics, weaving – that celebrate working with your hands in these intimate ways,” Raymond said.

“During Covid, life has slowed down a bit. For many artists across the north of this continent there has been a repatriation, giving them more time to look at different things, push their practices in new ways, raise the bar or go back to something they have always been doing.” “

  • Telstra National Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Awards (Natsia) Exhibition It runs from August 6, 2022 to January 15, 2023 at the Northern Territory Museum and Art Gallery in Darwin. details: www.natsiaa.com.au