Announcing The Winners Of The 2022 Telstra NATSIAA!

Now in its 39th year, the Telstra National Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Art Awards (NATSIAA) are not only considered the most prestigious art awards for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander artists, but they’re now also the richest arts awards in Australia!

This year, the awards brought together and celebrated both established and emerging artists from 44 different language groups across Australia. 63 finalists were selected from an incredible 221 entries, with six deserving winners announced last Friday!

The works are all on display at the Museum and Art Gallery of the Northern Territory (MAGNT), but if you can’t make it to Darwin to see them in person, you can take a virtual tour of the exhibition here!

Bea Taylor

Doris Bush Nungarrayi, ‘Wilinyi Ikuntji (Hunting at Haasts Bluff)’, 2021, synthetic polymer paint on canvas 122 x 198cm.

Left: Beverly Burton, ‘Ngayuku Ngura – My Country ‘, 2022, synthetic polymer paint on linen 198 x 198cm. Right: Muuki Taylor OAM, ‘Kulyakartu’, 2021, synthetic polymer paint on linen 121 x 76cm.

Patju Presley, ‘Untitled’, 2021, synthetic polymer paint on linen 200 x 291cm.

Left: Iwantja Men’s Collaborative Alec Baker, Eric Barney, ‘Kunmanara (Peter) Mungkuri OAM, ‘Ngura (Country)’, 2021, synthetic polymer paint and pigmented ink on linen 198 x 198cm. Right: Louise Robertson, ‘A Strong Woman of the Country’, 2022, recycled woollen blanket dyed with local Arrernte plants, wool and cotton 75 x 60 x 13cm.

Left: Yukultji Napangati, ‘Untitled’, 2021 synthetic polymer paint on Belgian linen 123 x 153cm. Right: Philomena Yeatman, ‘Woven Knowledge’, 2021, stoneware, pandanus and lawyer cane 58 x 27 x 12cm.

Left: Keith Minunga, ‘Emu and Malu (Kangaroo)’, 2022 synthetic polymer paint on linen 194 x 154cm. Centre: Pedro Wonaeamirri, Jilamara Mipurra, 2022, locally sourced earth pigments on stringybark 165 x 59cm. Right: Joe Guymala, Ngalyod, 2021, earth pigments with synthetic binder on bark 162 x 78cm.

Glen Namundja, Wakih (Freshwater Shrimp), 2021, earth pigments on Arches paper 55 x 75cm.

Top left: Alfred Lowe, ‘Fire and Floods’, 2022, hand built BRT, underglaze with sgraffito 32 x 30 x 30cm (red handles) 41 x 24 x 24cm (blue handles). Top right: May Yamangarra, ‘Balpal (traditional feather fan)’, 2021 wood, synthetic polymer paint, wax, stringybark and paper currency 25 x 25cm (each). Bottom: Charles Jangala Inkamala, ‘Honeymoon Gap’, 2021 synthetic polymer paint on canvas 31 x 122cm.

Left: Jack Green, Nancy McDinny and Stewart Hoosan, ‘Injustice – The History of the Gulf Country ‘, 2021, synthetic polymer paint on canvas 207 x 91cm. Centre: Dhambit Munuŋgurr, ‘My Father Painting Balana’, 2021, synthetic polymer paint on stringybark 249 x 116cm. Right: Kunmanara Carroll, ‘Mumu’, 2021,stoneware with sgraffito 65 x 37 x 30cm.

Ian Rictor, ‘Tuwan’, 2022, synthetic polymer paint on linen 137 x 270cm.

Leah Umbagai, ‘Jiyaa Dreaming’, 2021, synthetic polymer paint and paint pen on canvas 142 x 210cm.

Left: Munhala Dhamarrandji, ‘Batjimurruŋu at Gurula’, 2021, earth pigments on stringybark 74 x 72cm. Right: Irene Henry and Harold Goodman, ‘Big Mob Karnamarr (Red-tailed Black Cockatoo)’, 2022, synthetic polymer paint on ironwood 74 x 100 x 50cm overall.

Bruce Phillip Bradfield, ‘Mother of Pearl’, 2021, water-based paint, gouache, synthetic polymer paint pen, water-based pencils, black ink on paper 121 x 80cm.

Kieren Karritpul, ‘Two Fish Traps in Flowing Water’, 2022, felt-tip pen on paper 252 x 179cm.

Tuppy Ngintja Goodwin, ‘Antara’, 2022, synthetic polymer paint on linen 200 x 250cm.

Left: Graham Rostron, Ngalyod (Rainbow Serpent)’, 2021, earth pigments and synthetic polymer paint on Arches paper 102 x 153cm. Right: Voight Ratara, ‘Five stories of Country’, 2021, terracotta with underglaze 27 x 14 x 14cm.

Left: Nola Yurnangurnu Campbell, ‘Yunpalara’, 2022 synthetic polymer paint and oil stick on linen 152 x 101cm. Centre: Moyurrurra Wunuŋmurra, ‘Foundation’, 2021, earth pigments on stringybark 169 x 88cm.

Right: Rhonda Sharpe, ‘Me, my thyroid sickness, Candy the dog and the pussycat’, 2022, recycled woollen blanket dyed with local Arrernte plants, hand-painted and dyed cotton fabric, wool and cotton 75 x 150 x 30cm (overall).

Bea Taylor
9th of August 2022

On Friday last week, the winners of the 2022 Telstra National Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Art Awards (NATSIAA) were announced in a spectacular awards ceremony on the Darwin Harbour waterfront. This year Telstra NATSIAA became the richest art award in the country with the overall prize pool doubling to an incredible $190,000!

Margaret Rarru Garrawurra, Senior Yolŋu artist from Laŋarra, Arnhem Land in the Northern Territory took out the coveted Telstra Art Award, and a whopping $100,000, with her incredible 2.8metre hand-woven sail, Dhomala (pandanus sail)

“I was with my sisters when I found out about winning. We were very happy. It makes us proud to get first prize,” says Margaret. 

Rebekah Raymond, Arabana, Limilngan-Wulna, Wuthathi, and Mualgal woman, and MAGNT’s Curator of Aboriginal Art and Material Culture says, “It’s a beautiful work by a master weaver. The sail is an epic piece of weaving… the scale and colours are amazing and it references an important part of history.” 

Dhomala (pandanus sail) ties to Margaret’s cultural identity, as well as the historical relationships that endure between Yolŋu people, and the people of modern-day Indonesia. 

“Yolŋu people were watching Makassan people weaving their dhomala over time… then they started to make them. My father picked up the skill as well. He used to make them, Makassan dhomala. I was watching my father making these dhomala. He was making them, and I was watching. I thought about how he made them, my father, and I started remembering. And now I’m making these,” Margaret explains. 

Maragaret’s Dhomala (pandanus sail) has been coloured using immersion dying, a technique that’s been widely practised since the late 1700’s. She has become renowned for her use of this technique, in particular her recipe for creating black dye (mol) from local plants. While other Yolŋu weavers may use small amounts of mol in their work, the use of mol alone in a work is reserved for Margaret and those whom she gives permission. 

Margaret’s piece was selected from an impressive line up of 63 finalists, including intricate woven pieces, ceramics, sculptures, photography, multimedia and paintings.

“There are 44 language groups represented in the exhibition,” says Rebekah. “There are so many personal stories sitting side by side… it reflects the amazing diversity in the practice.” 

Read on to learn more about the six winners, and what the judges had to say about their powerful work!


Betty Muffler born 1944 Pitjantjatjara language Indulkana, SA

Ngangkari Ngura (Healing Country) 2021 synthetic polymer paint on linen 167 x 198 cm


Margaret Rarru Garrawurra born 1940 Dhuwal language Laŋarra / Howard Island and Yurrwi/Milingimbi, NT

Dhomala (pandanus sail) 2022 pandanus, kurrajong, bush dyes 278 x 245cm

(Right): Telstra Art Award – Margaret Rarru Garrawurra, ‘Dhomala (pandanus sail)’, 2022

Judges comments: “Rarru Garrawurra has created a monumental sculpture that is both majestic in scale and exacting in technical virtuosity. Hers is a powerful work which reminds us that Yolŋu long been active and intrepid explorers, participating in international trade since well before the arrival of the Europeans.”

(Left): Telstra General Painting Award – Betty Muffler, Ngangkari Ngura (Healing Country), 2021

Judges comments: “Betty Muffler’s Ngangkari Ngura is characterised by a subtle build-up of muted and monochromatic designs. This soft colour palette has become the artist’s signature and is immediately recognisable. Muffler started painting in her late seventies and was judged best emerging artist at the National Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Art Awards in 2017. Receiving the Telstra General Painting Award just five years later, in 2022, acknowledges her meteoric trajectory and deserved rise to fame as an artist.  Muffler’s intuitive mark-making is imbued with story and layers of complex, cultural knowledge. The artist’s deep reverence for Country is palpable. As a painting, Ngangkari Ngura is expertly refined. The repetition of concentric circular designs and linear striations are both elegant and complex.”

Top left:

Louise Malarvie born 1979 Walmajarri and Jaru languages Kununurra, WA

Pamarr Yara 2022 earth pigments on canvas 125 x 130cm

Bottom left:

Bonnie Burangarra, born 1958 Burarra/Walamangu language

Freda Ali Wayartja, born 1959 Burarra language Yilan, NT

An-gujechiya 2021 burny vine (Malaisia scandens), bush cane (Flagellaria indica), kurrajong (Brachychiton diversifolius) 64 x 280 x 61cm


Ms D. Yunupiŋu 1945–2022 Yolŋu Matha language Yirrkala, NT

Yunupiŋu – The Rock 2021 earth pigments and recycled print toner on stringybark 217 x 98cm

(Left top): Telstra Emerging Artist Award: Louise Malarvie, Pamarr Yara, 2022 

Judges comments: “This alluring painting conveys a layered granular texture suggestive of the earth being swept, shifted, and redistributed by the dispersal of rain and floodwater.   This subtle yet commanding work illustrates Malarvie’s capacity for strong composition and her deftness of earth pigment application, which inherently contain the muted colours of her Country. Her composition simultaneously conveys nuanced and distinctive features of the land as well as the vastness and immense scale of the Great Sandy Desert.”

(Right): Telstra Bark Painting Award – Ms D Yunupiŋu, Yunupiŋu -The Rock, 2021

Judges comments: “The judges offer our sincere condolences to the family and friends of the late Ms D Yunupiŋu, and to the whole community at Yirrkala. We acknowledge this immense loss that continues to be felt by everyone whose life she touched.  The lady who paints mermaids had a short, but impactful career as a painter. Working in a distinctly lyrical and figurative style, Ms D Yunupiŋu draws on familial iconography to tell the story of her spiritual conception as a mermaid. This slender bark has been whimsically rendered using a combination of naturally occurring ochres in cream, white, and black; as well as synthetic pigments drawn from recycled printer cartridges to create a brilliant and arresting array of fuchsia, pink and magenta tones. The background of the composition is layered and filled with delicate sea creatures and stars, from which four bold mermaids emerge. Positioned in front of an immovable rock, the bodies of the mermaids appear ghost-like, overlapping and entwined with one another.”

(Left, bottom): Wandjuk Marika Memorial 3D Award (sponsored by Telstra): Bonnie Burangarra and Freda Ali Wayartja, An-gujechiya, 2021 

Judges comments: “This sophisticated sculpture is an exemplar of contemporary Indigenous fibre practice. It exudes ingenuity, technical excellence and a commitment to the slow-paced multifarious stages of fibre art production. The artists’ command of the natural fibres with which they work is noteworthy, as well as their capacity to collaborate. This an-gujechiya is simultaneously a contemporary work of art and a form of cultural continuity. In selecting this award, the judges acknowledge the importance of fibre production in contemporary Indigenous art practice.”


Gary Philip Lee born 1952 Larrakia language Garramilla/Darwin, NT

Nagi 2022 oil pastel and pencil on digital print 42 x 30 cm


Jimmy John Thaiday born 1978 Torres Strait Creole language Erub, Torres Strait, Qld

Beyond the lines 2022 single channel HD video: 16:9, colour, sound 5:22 minutes

(Left): Telstra Works on Paper Award – Gary Lee, Nagi, 2022 

 Judges comments: “Nagi emanates tenderness and affection. This poignant and intimate depiction of Lee’s grandfather – Juan (John) Roque Cubillo – is a culminating work in this artist’s career. By reclaiming the historic photographic archive Lee firmly reorients it in the present and personal realm.  This work on paper demonstrates a subtle use of mark-making with oil pastel and pencil to adorn the portrait of his grandfather. These embellishments evoke a sensory and tactile quality to the work. Softly coloured gardenias add another sensory component with the suggestion of a scented halo which softly frames the subject.”

(Right): Telstra Mult-media Award: Jimmy John Thaiday, Beyond the lines, 2022 

Judges comments: “This powerful and emotive work explores the interconnection between the artist to his Country as exemplified by sea, land, sky and wildlife (in the form of the waumer, the frigate bird). This meditation on the interconnectedness of life, land and sea examines relationships and correlations between naturally occurring patterns, formations, and movements. Beyond the lines is technically accomplished and masterful. Its refined visual rhythm is carefully paced and combines a compelling use of wide lens with close-up footage. Its thoughtful use of sound is also noteworthy.”

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