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Telstra NATSIA awards ceremony celebrates 40 years 

Telstra NATSIA awards ceremony celebrates 40 years 


On Friday 11 August, the Telstra National Aboriginal Torres Strait Islander Art Awards – the NATSIAA – will celebrate the vast works of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander artists from across the country. 

Held on the lawns of the Museum and Art Gallery of the Northern Territory, the ceremony will be a joyous celebration of NATSIAA’s 40 year history, and Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander art, music, dance and performance. 

The Telstra NATSIAA is Australia’s longest-running and most acclaimed Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander art award. 

The major Telstra art award is $100,000 and category winners each receive $15,000. For the 40th iteration, 63 finalists from all across Australia have been hand-picked from 221 entries. 

Image by Benjamin Warlgundu Bayliss.
What’s on at this year’s NATSIAA ceremony

Under the creative direction of Ben Graetz, this year’s ceremony salutes the ongoing legacy of creativity, and demonstrates the NATSIAA’s unflagging efforts to respect and preserve the peerless contributions of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islanders artists to Australia’s cultural landscape.

Doctor Aunty Bilawara Lee, a 2022 senior Australian of the Year nominee, will welcome patrons to the ceremony via a specially curated Welcome to Country that pays homage to the lands and seas of the Larrakia People. Tony Lee and Trent Lee will perform a smoking ceremony.

Titans in the Northern Territory’s music industry will be honoured through bands performing cover tracks from artists who graced the awards stage in the past, such as Electric Fields, Mo Ju, Emily Wurramara, Baker Boy, Christine Anu, Yothu Yindi and many others.

Melanie Mununggurr, photographed by Ben Forrest.

Graetz expresses eagerness to collaborate with the awards’ musical director, beloved Darwin talent and ARIA nominee James Mangohig, who will feature on stage with artists and musicians Doctor Shellie Morris AO, Djolpa McKenzie, Melanie Mununggurr and Kamahi Djordon King. 

“Having grown up in Darwin, NATSIAA has been a part of my life for years – celebrating the 40th anniversary through the music, songs and artists that have been part of the award is truly something special,” says Greatz. 

Other performers include Arnhem Land-based Yilila and the Red Flag dancers, frontman for the Darwin band WIld Water Djolpa McKenzie, poet and performer Melanie Mununggur, proud LGBTQ man Gary Lang, the Northern Territory dance company and many more. 

Graetz promises an unmissable night wherein “art, music and culture intertwine for an evening of magic and inspiration”.

The ceremony kicks off at 6pm for a sunset start, and the exhibition of the works will follow on Saturday 12 August until Sunday 18 February of next year. 

Featured Image by Benjamin Warlgundu Bayliss.

Read about Yankunytjatjara artist Vicki Yatjiki Cullinan winning Hadley’s art prize. 


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