Mavis standing with her artwork at the Telstra Awards
Mavis Ngallametta won the General Painting Award at the National Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Art Award at the Museum And Art Gallery of the Northern Territory in Darwin on the 9th of August.
It is one of 77 selected Art Works – narrowed down from 230 entries – that demonstrate the best Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Art and the wide diversity of its expression thorough Australia. The “Telstra Award” is a premier National Art and Cultural event that celebrates the considerable contribution of the Australian Indigenous Artists to the Nation.
Mavis collecting her General Painting Award
Mavis attended the opening ceremony of the Award and received the Telstra General Painting Award recognising the extraordinary talent of this Aurukun woman.
It is prestigious recognition of her commitment to develop her own Creative talent but also of the significance of her Culture and of the Culture of the WiK and Kugu people. Aurukun Artists have been well known for the vibrancy of their carvings – Craig Koomeeta also won a Telstra Award, the 3 D Award in 2001 – but now Aurukun Artists are also recognized for their paintings.
Mavis Ngallametta, Georgina & Guy Allain at the National Aboriginal & Torres Strait Islander Art Awards
Born in the coastal country of the Kugu people around the Kendall River south of Aurukun on the Cape York Peninsula, Mavis Ngallametta (nee Marbunt) is a senior Elder of the Putch clan. Despite growing up in the harsh reality of the Aurukun mission dormitory, Mavis managed to maintain close links with her family and was taught traditional weaving and basketry skills using cabbage palm and pandanus by her elders. Developing as a strong culture woman, Mavis first became acknowledged for her weaving mastery and renowned for her dramatic use of natural colours and asymmetrical creations. Many of these woven works have entered both public and private collections. In 2004 Mavis was granted the Community Arts Achievement award for her contribution to the Aurukun school and community, specifically for her role in teaching the children traditional crafts and facilitating weaving workshops.
Mavis Ngallametta’s artwork Yalgamungken #3
In 2008, while working at the Wik and Kugu Arts and Craft Centre in Aurukun, Mavis was introduced to painting by Georgina Allain. Without preconceived ideas, and through her own experimental visual expression, Mavis started to translate her weaving and creative expertise onto canvas. Inspired by her deep knowledge of country, Mavis depicts in her works the complex maze of spectacular river systems, wetlands and coastlines of the Western Cape. Fluent in her own traditional languages, she manages through her art to communicate her understanding of country, reaching across cultures to an ever-wider national and international audience.
Traditional dancing at the Telstra Awards
Using traditional clays and ochres, Mavis captures the intensity of her community life and country in a unique and vibrant style that marries abstraction with elements of figuration. On first glance seemingly abstract, Mavis’s paintings are in fact both physical and emotional maps of her country. Often referencing cultural knowledge, Ngallametta has developed a painterly voice that joins an ancestral past with the present, stretching boundaries and blurring the distinction between abstraction, art brut, landscape art and story-telling.
The chairperson of the Wik and Kugu Art and Craft Centre from 2008 to 2012, Mavis has now branched out as an individual artist in an effort to further her career and professional development with the assistance and mentorship of Georgina and Guy Allain. Mavis Ngallametta is represented exclusively by Martin Browne Contemporary in Sydney.
Mavis’ Award acknowledges the excellence of her practice as well as the vitality and strength of a unique Culture. Something that reflect not only her practice but from which all Aurukun people can be proud of.
The Telstra Award exhibition at the Museum and Art Gallery of the Northern Territory closes 10th November 2013. It can also be viewed on line http://natsiaa30.nt.gov.au/
Mavis Ngallametta travels to Darwin to attend the “30th Telstra Award” was supported by the assistance and contribution from Skytrans.
Art work copyrights to Mavis Ngallametta and photos and text to Gina & Guy Allain.