Sonya Rankine wins the ‘2019 OUR MOB Emerging Artist Prize’

The winner of the ‘2019 OUR MOB Emerging Artist Prize’, Ngarrindjeri, Nurungga, Ngadjuri woman Sonya Rankine was presented with the award at the official ‘2019 OUR MOB’ opening, which took place at the Adelaide Festival Centre on Thursday 22 August.

The Don Dunstan Foundation recognises the talents of South Australian Aboriginal artists and provides support for the development of a career in the arts, as well as a platform for their artworks and stories to have exposure to a wider-reaching national audience through the ‘OUR MOB Program’, which consists of exhibitions and awards.

Sonya Rankine, Lakun Mara 13 Pinyali Pempandawi. Winner of the ‘2019 OUR MOB Emerging Artist Award’. Courtesy the artist and Adelaide Festival Centre

Rankine is from Moonta Bay along the Copper Coast region of Northern Yorke Peninsula, South Australia. For this prize, she entered two sculptures titled Lakun Mara 13 – Pinyali Pempandawi (Emu Basket), and Lakun Mara 14 – Partar Pempandawi (Rock Basket), both created using jacaranda stalks, beach stone, waxed linen thread, palm inflorescence, and emu feathers.

Sonya Rankine, Lakun Mara 14 Partar Pempandawi. Winner of the ‘2019 OUR MOB Emerging Artist Award’. Courtesy the artist and Adelaide Festival Centre

On receiving the award for these two intricately weaved creations, Rankine reflected on cultural knowledge passed down and her experience of weaving over more than two decades. She shared, ‘I’ve been weaving for 25 years. I first learnt from Aunty Ellen Trevorrow, the traditional Ngarrindjeri technique using reeds from the Coorong. Since then, I have continued to have a strong cultural interest and passion for weaving. This was strengthened by attending the 2019 National Basketry Gathering, delivering a workshop and learning many more styles to incorporate.

‘My weaving is about reviving and maintaining culture and the tradition of Ngarrindjeri weaving through creating contemporary Aboriginal art.’

Rankine will invest the win in her creative business Lakun Mara (meaning Weaving Hand), which focuses on the revival and maintenance of traditional Ngarrindjeri weaving techniques and cultural practice.

As part of the ‘OUR MOB Program, two additional prizes were awarded; the ‘Country Arts SA Professional Development Initiative Award’, which went to Rowena Williams of Coober Pedy; and the ‘Ku Arts OUR YOUNG MOB Award’, won by Leshaye Swan from Adelaide.

With applause for the winners and participants of this year’s awards, Douglas Gautier AM, Adelaide Festival Centre CEO & Artistic Director said, For fourteen years, OUR MOB has supported art practices of numerous First Nations artists throughout South Australia.

‘What began as a survey of visual art is now one of our most important annual programs, bringing artists, industry partners, and arts organisations from all over the state together in a celebration of art and community. We congratulate this year’s winners and look forward to celebrating their success for years to come.’

Visitors to the Adelaide Festival can view the work of South Australian Aboriginal artists through the ‘2019 OUR MOB’ program which features three exhibitions; ‘OUR MOB’ – a display of artworks by South Australian Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander artists, ‘OUR YOUNG MOB’ showcases work by Aboriginal artists 18 years and under and the ‘Don Dunstan Foundation Prize Showcase’ produced by last year’s Emerging Artist Award recipient, Tony Wilson.

All are on display from 23 August to 3 October 2019 at QBE Galleries, Festival Theatre foyer, Adelaide Festival Centre.