South Australian Indigenous artist, Peter Mungkuri, has won the inaugural Hadley’s Art Prize, receiving $100,000 for his winning work, Ngura Wiru (Good Country), a depiction of his birth place, Fregon, in Central Australia.
“This is my story about that creek at Fregon,” Peter said. “I was born there.”
“Back then we lived in the bush, slept in the warm sand and we lived on the bush tucker. That place is where it all started, that was my home.
“I love this country, it has watched us Anangu (people) for many years. It is a wise country.”
The annual acquisitive award seeks to contribute to the Tasmanian and Australian art scene, generating interest in cultural tourism and promoting the work of contemporary landscape artists. This year’s theme was ‘History and Place’ allowed artists to connect with place through the past; family histories, cultural traditions, or tracing events, memories and stories in the land.
Hadley’s Art Prize Judge Lisa Slade said the judging panel was continually drawn back to the beauty and vitality of Ngura Wiru (Good Country); “Painted flat with the paper becoming the land itself and the artist moving around the paper, this delicate work of art depicts the rich plant culture in Central Australia and its enduring importance for the artist, a senior law man, and for all Anangu people.”
Iwantja Arts Manager Beth Conway said Peter’s work was loaded with an energy and flowing movement, and depicted his reverence for country. “Peter’s piece depicts sweeping paths linked loosely together, connecting a myriad of softly dotted rings evoking a landscape enigmatic with hidden water holes,” Conway said. “Tenderly constructed trees spring up between the interlocking rolls of a mountain range, hinting towards the corrugations of a dynamic sand swept desert.”
Four Highly Commended Awards, worth $2,250 each, were also presented to Sue Lovegrove from Tasmania, Guan Wei from New South Wales and Nyaparu Gardiner and Jane Tangney both from Western Australia.
View the works of all 41 finalists, including Peter’s winning work, at the new custom-designed gallery at Hadley’s Orient Hotel from 10am to 4pm, until 25 August. The People’s Choice Award will be announced on 19 August.