Australia’s most prestigious Indigenous art prize – the Telstra National Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Art Awards (NATSIAA) – is a haven of unique artistic expression each year. After thousands of votes from around the country, we’re ready to announce the People’s Choice Award winner for 2019.

Over 68 artists took part in this year’s awards, but only one could emerge as the People’s Choice winner. Esteemed artist and senior Gija man, Rusty Peters of Warmun in Western Australia, is this year’s winner.

Peters’ artwork, Garnkiny 2019, features ochre and natural pigments on linen, coming together to depict an incredible night sky scene.

Peter says that the work is about “the time when the moon sulked because of his mother-in-law. Because of that, he became the moon. Linga ngenarn-noongoo. I was thinking about him (and made the painting).”

“The story I gave you, that Garnkiny, he wanted to marry his mother-in-law, and the ones that where the right skin said “What doyou want to do that for? You could marry us,” but the Garnkiny fell in love with his mother in law. Nowadays, everybody marry wrong skin. That Garnkiny is a true story,” he adds.

Before he painted, Peters spent his youth on cattle stations, living a storied and creative life over his 84 years. His peers in Warmun country are exceptionally proud of him.

Stephanie Rajalingam is Warmun’s Art Centre Manager, and said that “Rusty’s thematic painting of Garnkiny has to be one of the most romantic depictions of the scintillating Kimberley night sky. As a highly ranking senior elder at the Warmun Art Centre, his capacity to continue creating profound images of power never ceases to inspire us. We are so proud of Mr. Peters.”

For 28 years, we’ve been a passionate supporter of the NATSIAAs and in 2019, together with MAGNT, we were delighted to be able to bring the Telstra People’s Choice Award to a national audience.  For the first time, all Australians were able to vote online for their favourite artwork from the 68 Telstra NATSIAA finalists. 

We congratulate Rusty Peters as the 2019 Telstra NATSIAA People’s Choice winner.

The 2019 Telstra NATSIAA runs until 3 November 2019 at MAGNT Darwin. Preparations for the 2020 awards are now underway, with entries for the 2020 Telstra NATSIAA opening soon.

Learn more about Telstra NATSIAA here.