Intricate piece wins in prestigious art prize
Woven together from native grasses, raffia, string and wool, a 2m lifesize lizard has won its Goldfields creator $30,000 in the Hedland Art Awards.
Dallas Smythe from the Warakurna community in the northern Goldfields created the art piece My Country based on Australia’s largest lizard, the perentie.
The intricate art piece took out the Most Outstanding Work in the prestigious Hedland Art Awards.
A member of the Tjanpi Desert Weavers, Smythe said she had been shocked at the news.
“Everyone in the community was really happy, shaking my hand, saying ‘congratulations Dallas’,” she said.
Having learned her weaving skills from her grandmother, one of Smythe’s first acts after winning the prize was to thank her.
“I’m happy that my grandmother teached me to do weaving — Nora Holland, now she’s in a nursing home in Kalgoorlie,” she said.
“I was really happy, I called my nanna and said, thank you nanna for teaching me Tjanpi weaving.”
The 30-year-old artists said she got the inspiration to create My Country from the connection she and her family had with the perentie.
“I have been hunting the ngirntaka (perentie) for a long time, I learnt from my grandmother, and when we go out bush my husband teaches my son,” Smythe said.
“Not far from my sister’s birth place at Giles Creek, there is a waterhole where the ngirntaka tells a story of how he turned into a water snake; this story has been passed down from generation to generation and keeps me connected to my country.”
The mother of one is now looking to buy her son a motorbike.
A spokeswoman from the Tjanpi Desert Weavers congratulated Smythe on her award-winning pieced and said although she was a relative newcomer to the art form she was rapidly forging a reputation for excellence.
Steph Openshaw is handing over the reigns to the Palace Theatre after more than a decade.
Dallas Smythe’s art piece My Country won in the Hedland Art Awards.