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Meet The Winners Of The ‘Telstra National Aboriginal And Torres Strait Islander Art Awards’

The longest running and most prestigious Indigenous art prize in the country

If a picture is worth a thousand words, the paintings in the Telstra National Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Art Awards (NATSIAA) exhibition can fill an entire book. 

Each of the 65 artworks in the exhibition tell a unique story of culture, Country, creativity and community. 

These stories include Christian Thompson AO’s The Meaning of Fire which is a message to his brothers and sisters across Australia: ‘Know your fire, know your worth, know your culture and know yourself.” 

Then there’s the story of the bees at Gangan by Dhambit Munuŋgurr, who was first told about the bees by Dr Gawirrin Gumana AO when she was 14, and is now passing the tale down to the next generation through her art. 

Thea Perkins honours the legacy of her grandfather Charles Perkins with a portrait of his iconic autobiography cover, A Bastard Like Me. “The book was originally published in 1975. Using the word ‘bastard’ was shocking [at that time] and reflective of the widespread vilification he was subject to as an outspoken Aboriginal man. To then flip it and wear the term with pride has a bold complexity. It was important for me to work with this image, and the radical spirit it represents to me,” she says. 


The 65 finalists and seven winners were selected by an acclaimed judging panel out of 248 entries from around the country – and the pieces are currently on show at the Museum and Art Gallery of the Northern Territory (MAGNT) on Larrakia Country in Darwin. 

Walking through the exhibition is an inspiring – and emotional – experience. Now in its 38th year, the Telstra NATSIAAs honour the work of the country’s best emerging and established Indigenous artists. 

“The calibre of work this year is amazing, especially considering it was produced in the second year of a worldwide pandemic. The pieces are a testament to the creativity and resilience of First Nations artists,” says MAGNT Curator of Aboriginal Art and Material Culture, Rebekah Raymond. “I want to congratulate all the finalists and the winners.” 

And those winners are… 

Telstra Art Award

Timo Hogan

Lake Baker 2020 synthetic polymer paint on linen 

Telstra General Painting Award 

Bugai Whyoulter 

Wantili (Warntili, Canning Stock Route Well 25) 2021 synthetic polymer paint on canvas 

Telstra Bark Painting Award 

Dhambit Munuŋgurr 

Bees at Gäṉgän 2021 synthetic polymer paint on stringybark

Telstra Works on Paper Award 

Ms M Wirrpanda 

Untitled 2021 fibre-tipped pen on paper

Wandjuk Marika 3D Memorial Award (sponsored by Telstra) 

Hubert Pareroultja and Mervyn Rubuntja 

Through the veil of time 2021 watercolour on silk-screen mesh

Telstra Multimedia Award 

Pedro Wonaeamirri 

Jilarti, live performance of Jilarti (brolga song), pimirtiki (feather head piece), imeuja (false beard), tokwayinga (feather ball), tjimirrikamarka (fighting stick), tunga (folded bark bag) 2021 digital media, earth pigments (locally sourced) on stringybark and wood; feathers, vegetable

Telstra Emerging Artist Award 

Kyra Mancktelow 

Moongalba 11 2021 etching ink on paper 

The Telstra National Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Art Awards, open at the Museum and Art Gallery of the Northern Territory (MAGNT) in Darwin from 7 August 2021 to 6 February 2022. The exhibition can be seen online at the virtual gallery at

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