Wergaia, Wemba Wemba artist Kelly Koumalatsos is the winner of the prestigious Koorie Art Show, Creative Victoria Award for Excellence in Any Media, receiving a cash prize of $10,000 for her work Portrait Of Sister In Laws; Wemba Wemba Great Aunty Frieda Stewart And Wergaia Great Grandmother Eleanor Stewart (2019).
In her statement about her work, Koumalatsos says, ‘this blouse is a portrait of my ancestors-the possum fur printed blouse from the late 1800s to the early 1900s. It represents the strength of the woman in my family and their ability to do more than simply survive the oppression of the times. The possum fur print symbolises the cultural identity of Granny and Aunty regardless of the colonising life that was around them. Granny who was born on Ebenezer Mission in 1887 and was a strong and determined woman who had kept her own dictionary of Wergaia language. The photograph was taken early 1900s.’
The 7th Koorie Art Show judging panel included: Aunty Esther Kirby OAM (Yorta Yorta and Wiradjuri), Elder and Artist; Myles Russell-Cook, Curator Indigenous Art, National Gallery of Victoria; and Steven Rhall (Taungurung), artist and academic.
‘This year’s awards were absolutely some of the best work at the Koori Heritage Trust Art Show. It was extremely hard to make a decision, with so many high-quality works. All artists should be congratulated on their exceptional work,’ said the judges.
Additional winners shared the $32,000 total prize pool:
Peter Waples-Crowe, Ngarigo – Metro Tunnel Creative Program 2D Award $5,000
Ngardang Girri Kalat Mimini Victorian Indigenous Women’s and Trans Diverse Art Collective – Viva Energy 3D Award $5,000
Kait James, Wadawurrung – Lendlease Reconciliation Award $5,000
Tammy Gilson, Wadawurrung – RMIT University Emerging Artist Award $3,000
Greg Muir, Yorta Yorta and Tanisha Lovett, Wotjobaluk, Gunditjmara – Koorie Heritage Trust Highly Commended Award x2 $500 each.
The Koorie Art Show runs from 7 December to 23 February 2020 at the Koorie Heritage Trust, Yarra Building, Federation Square. The Koorie Heritage Trust People’s Choice Award $1,000 will be announced at the close of the exhibition.
‘The calibre and incredible range of work is indicative of a flourishing contemporary Koorie art scene here in Victoria,’ says Tom Mosby, CEO, Koorie Heritage Trust. ‘The show also continues the Koorie Heritage Trust’s role of incubating, nurturing and promoting Victorian Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander art and artists to the broadest possible audience.’
The Koorie Art Show is an annual art award and exhibition and is the only exhibition in Victoria dedicated to showcasing the work of Koorie and Victorian-based Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander artists. It has been a spring-board for national recognition with many of the artists finding gallery representations, going on to present solo shows throughout Australia and to have their work in national collections, both private and public.
All works are available for sale to the public.