Artists finalists in prestigious prize
Kimberley painters Phyllis Thomas, from Warmun Arts, and Sonia Kurarra, from Mangkaja Arts, were two of the artists chosen as finalists for one of the oldest art prizes in Australia recently.
The women were named among 46 finalists out of 695 entries to the Wynne Prize, for landscape art, in Sydney, which started in 1897.
About 20 of this year’s finalists are Aboriginal, including Thomas and Kurarra.
Unfortunately, neither artist managed to win the top gong, which nets the winner $50,000, or the accompanying Roberts Family Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Prize, for which they were also eligible.
The Wynne was won by Yukultji Napangati, from the East Pilbara community of Kiwirrkurra, for a work which depicted a rock hole among sandhills.
Thomas, who started painting as part of the Jirrawun art movement in 1998, submitted an ochre painting combining a story from the Stolen Generation with landscapes. The painting, My Stolen Sisters From Gija Country, tells the tale of how two young Gija girls, a sister and a cousin-sister of Thomas, were taken away from their home to Moola Bulla Station and then to Oombulgurri, which is shown in the top section of the image.
It was in Oombulgurri where the girls would grow into women and start their own families.
Kurarra, who grew up on river country in Noonkanbah, loves to paint about waterways and barramundi.
Her acrylic painting, Martuwarra is no exception as a lively image of the Fitzroy River.
Hungary-born New South Wales watercolourist Bela Ivanyi was also a finalist for his picture of the Kimberley’s El Questro region. “On this occasion, I stayed at Emma Gorge — a station at El Questro, a property of nearly a million acres — and painted two sunrises featuring boab trees with the marvellous Cockburn Ranges in the background,” he said.
“This prompted me to paint a group of boabs near Emma Gorge camp, in watercolour, with the ever-present Cockburn Ranges embracing them.”
Boab at El Questro by Bela Ivanyi.
Gija painter Phyllis Thomas from Warmun.
Martuwarra by Sonia Kurarra.
Part of My Stolen Sisters From Gija Country by Phyllis Thomas.