Australian Aboriginal artist awards announces winner

Art by South Australian Aboriginal Artists, OUR MOB, has announced its 2019 Emerging Artist prize winner at Adelaide Festival Centre.

Sonya Rankine, a Ngarrindjeri, Narungga, Ngadjuri woman of South Australia, was announced as the winner of the AUD5,000 (€3,000) Don Dunstan Foundation OUR MOB Emerging Artist Prize. The prize money will be used to invest in her business, Lankun Mara, meaning Weaving Hand, which focuses on the revival and maintenance of traditional Ngarrindjeri weaving techniques and cultural practice.

Since 2006, Adelaide Festival Centre has showcased the diversity of art created by South Australian Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander artists, boosting and supporting their careers.

Rankine won with her sculptures titled Lankun Mara 13 – Pinyali Pempandawi (Emu Basket) and Lankun Mara 14 – Partar Pempandawi (Rock Basket). The sculptures were made from jacaranda stalks, beach stone, waxed linen, thread, palm inflorescence and emu feathers.

Said Rankine: “I’ve been weaving for 25 years. I first learnt from Aunty Ellen Trevorrow, the traditional Ngarrindjeri technique using reeds from the Coorong. Since then I have continued to have a strong cultural interest and passion for weaving. My weaving is about reviving and maintaining culture and the tradition of Ngarrindjeri weaving through creating contemporary Aboriginal art.”

Two other prizes were awarded, the Country Arts SA Professional Development Initiative Award, for which 42-year-old Rowena Williams of Coober Pedy took home the AUD1,500 (€910) prize, while 18-year-old Leshaye Swan won the Ku Arts OUR YOUNG MOB Award.

Douglas Gautier, Adelaide Festival Centre CEO and artistic director, said: “For 14 years, OUR MOB has supported art practices of numerous First Nations artists throughout South Australia. What began as a survey of visual art is now one of our most important annual programmes, bringing artists, industry partners, and art organisations from all over the state together in a celebration of art and community.”

Adelaide Festival Centre’s partners are  Ku Arts and Culture Aboriginal Corporation and SICAD; Country Arts SA; The Don Dunstan Foundation; TARNANTHI: Festival of Contemporary Aboriginal & Torres Strait Islander Art; and the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander arts and culture centre managers and coordinators across South Australia.