A traditional owner from West Arnhem is both the subject and collaborator of the winning work in the 2023 Portrait of a Senior Territorian art award.
Proud Aboriginal Man – by Darwin’s Catherine Miles and Kunwinjku elder Leslie Nawirridj – impressed the judges with its profound technicality, originality, and effectiveness in capturing the identity of the subject.
“The Portrait of a Senior Territorian award is a wonderful way to showcase our visual storytellers and to foster artistic excellence,” said Minister for Youth, Seniors and Equality, Ngaree Ah Kit.
“Just as importantly, it is a fabulous celebration of our seniors which highlights the rich contributions they make to their communities, and the Northern Territory as a whole.
“A picture paints a thousand words and the portraits in this exhibition have some very interesting and intriguing stories to tell.”
The distinctive approach to the painting by the two artists caught the attention of the judges. Particularly noteworthy was the involvement of the subject of the portrait, who incorporated his traditional fine-line cross-hatching technique (rarrk) depicting cultural symbols to enrich the authenticity and depth of the artwork. The acrylic on canvas piece demonstrated an exceptional command of technique, symbolism, and emotion to win the $7,000 first prize.
“This year’s Portrait of a Senior Territorian is yet another demonstration of the Territory’s outstanding artistic talent,” said Minister for Arts, Culture and Heritage, Chansey Paech.
“I am really impressed with the stylistic and cultural diversity of the works, which each unveil a special story about our seniors.
“Congratulations to the winners, and to everyone who entered this iconic prize. I urge everyone to visit the exhibition and to help select a People’s Choice winner.”
Catherine Connor was awarded the $2,000 second prize for her portrait of Albert Lilypiyana titled What Are They On About; and last year’s winner, Montana Kitching, was awarded the $500 third prize for her portrait of Therese Wokai Bourke.
Thomas Higgs’ portrait of Helen Haritos was highly commended by the judges.
The judges’ criteria included technical expertise; originality; effectiveness in capturing the personality of the subject; effectiveness in capturing the Territory’s identity, culture and history; contribution to the legacy of NT art and the Portrait of a Senior Territorian; as well as their personal response to the work.
Art enthusiasts now have the opportunity to view this year’s entries at the exhibition at Parliament House in Darwin until Sunday 10 December 2023.
Voting for the People’s Choice Award is now open, with the winner to be announced on 12 December 2023. Votes can be made in person or online.
For more information on the award and to vote for the People’s Choice, see here.