Visual artists rise to the top in First Nations Awards

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Alison Milyika Carroll.

DURING a live-streamed ceremony last night (May 27), visual arts identities Alison Milyika Carroll and Djon Mundine were honoured with the Red Ochre Awards for Lifetime Achievement at the First Nations Arts Awards.

Carroll is an artist and advocate for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people and arts across the APY lands while Mundine, a former curator at the National Museum of Australia, is a leading intellectual, activist and cultural leader.

At the ceremony, painter Thea Anamara Perkins, a lead artist participating in the restoration of the “40,000 Years” mural in Redfern, received the 2020 Dreaming Award for a young and emerging artist.

Djon Mundine.

The Aboriginal & Torres Strait Islander Arts Fellowship went to independent artist and curator Maree Clarke, while the Community Arts and Cultural Development Fellowship went to theatre and film producer Lydia Fairhall, who has programmed and produced shows for Ilbijerri Theatre Company, Brown Cabs, Queensland Performing Arts Centre, Bangarra Dance Theatre, Sydney Theatre Company and  Footscray Community Arts Centre.

The Emerging and Experimental Arts Fellowship went to SJ Norman, whose practice spans installation, sculpture, fiction, essays, poetry, video, sound and performance.

The awards also acknowledged the many First Nations artists who had received other Australia Council awards in the last year, including Ryan Clapham aka DOBBY, Dion Beasley and Brook Andrew.

Formerly known as the National Indigenous Arts Awards, the ceremonies are held each year on May 27 to mark the anniversary of the 1967 Aboriginal Referendum and to recognise and celebrate the creativity and lifetime achievements of First Nations artists.

Deputy chair of the Australia Council for the Arts and event co-host, Lee-Ann Tjunypa Buckskin said that the online event, seen all around the world, was an important moment in the history of the awards, which have been staged by the Council since 1993.

“For the first time, everyone in Australia and globally had the opportunity to join the celebration of these outstanding First Nations artists. It was incredibly powerful to be able to come together online in this way to recognise and celebrate the centrality of First Nations artists to Australian culture and share that with a global audience.”

The 2020 First Nations Arts Awards will be broadcast on NITV on Sunday, May 31 from 6:30pm, and will be available on SBS OnDemand.

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Helen Musa
“CityNews” arts editor

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