Desart Photography Prize 2020
Desart Photography Prize 2020 winner: Liam Alberts of Warlukurlangu Artists with Local Warming.
Darkstar Digital Award: Liam Alberts
Joseph Williams of Nyinkka Nyunyu with his work Kilyirri, Marla, Yimpili, Narra.
Herman Corby of Papunya Tjupi Arts with his portrait Tjilpi (Old Man).
Talitha Williams of Warlukurlangu Artists with her work Peace Out.
In the 2020 Desart Photography Prize there was 11 finalists drawn from five art centres. There was a strong field with an exciting mix of subject matter. Many of the photographers had come through Desart-run photography workshops, which built strong visual and technical skills in art workers.
Each year the Desart Photography Prize celebrates country, community, family, and art centres. Celebration is something we don’t do enough of and in 2020, more than ever, it is important to celebrate our achievements and the positives in life.
Family is always important; without family there is no community. Family and community life are the focus of works by Roxanne Carroll, Selwyn Nacambala, Andy Ross, Kyra Ross, Norbert Morris and Talitha Williams. Roxanne and Talitha, through their images, take the audience with them. We feel the joy and intimacy of going on country with family, a theme appreciated by our community judge this year, Gloria Moketarinja of Iltja Ntjarra Many Hands Art.
The Desart Photography Prize always gives voice to Aboriginal people. Not only do the images express personal experiences, they provide an opportunity to convey opinions on national and universal politics. Images dealing with issues such as the Black Lives Matter movement (Tommy Hargraves), and global warming (Liam Alberts) of Warlukurlangu Artists demonstrate how Aboriginal people are aware of, affected by, and are part of global political movements.
Joseph Williams’ Kilyirri, Marla, Yimpili, Narra [Sun, Shadow, Coolamon, and Mother Earth] has sophisticated layers of story. It is a cultural story about creation, heritage, continuity of traditional practices by Warumungu on their own land. Joseph is proud of his inherited traditional carving skills. He created the coolamon at the centre of the image and has taken it to another level by using light and shadow to depict the Aboriginal flag. The coolamon for Joseph ‘is as much a part of our traditional and ongoing Warumungu life as the sun and earth’. Gloria Moketarinja described it as ‘an artwork within an artwork.’ Fellow Photography Prize judge Glenn Iseger-Pilkington pointed out that it is a very topical image right now because the freedom to use the Aboriginal flag has become a copyright issue.
Julianne Farmer’s Mutuka Palyarnu Manta (Car Made of Clay) is about art centre life and also features ‘an artwork within an artwork.’ Art centre life is a theme shared by Papunya Tjupi photographers’ strong portraiture this year. Herman Corby’s Tjilpi, Old Man (Carbiene McDonald), and Selwyn Nacambala’s Wilfred both acknowledge the contribution these men make to art centre life, and, in turn how art centres have enhanced the lives of artists.
At Desart we value relationships and partnerships and the Desart Photography Prize is a good example of how collaborations bring great outcomes. We would like to acknowledge our printer Darkstar Digital, who have printed the images since 2013 and this year have generously provided the Darkstar Digital Award to enable the winner to print a suite of new photographic works.
It is pleasing to see Aboriginal people behind the camera, nurtured by Desart and this year also by PAW media (Pintubi Anmatjere Warlpiri Media and Communications) to develop digital skills to express their ideas and share their stories through photography. We are excited that 2021 will mark the tenth anniversary of the Desart Photography Prize and encourage all art centres to get behind this great event next year.