In her paintings Wawiriya Burton, aged 93, tells the story of her father’s country near Pipalyatjara, west of Amata in South Australia.
Having just been named a Telstra NATSIAA finalist, her work will feature among that of the 67 artists selected to be part of the impressive field of finalists for 2018.

Every year for the past 35 years the Telstra National Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Art Awards (NATSIAA) have provided a focal point where our finest Indigenous artists share their stories, expertise and their imagination.

Through the Telstra NATSIAA, artists like Wawiriya showcase work that carries its own unique pulse and power, which contributes to a deeper-thinking Australian society through the fearless sharing of art and ideas.

“A long time ago, when we were little children, we ran around Puta Puta and Ilitjata, our grandfather’s and father’s ground, and because of this we grew up strong.” – Wawiriya Burton, 2017

2018 Telstra NAATSIA finalist Wawiriya Burton from the Amata community in South Australia.
2018 Telstra NAATSIA finalist Wawiriya Burton from the Amata community in South Australia.

And it is the diversity of these ideas and stories that makes the Awards so unique.

Jenna Lee, aged 26, is a proud Larrakia woman whose contemporary art practice explores themes of identity, identification, labelling and the relationships between language and object. As a Queer, Mixed Race, Larrakia Woman all of her work includes themes of feminism, gender, sexuality, race, Aboriginality and the constant and exhausting process of identifying in a society that demands it.

Jenna Lee, descendant of the Larrakia people NT.
Jenna Lee, descendant of the Larrakia people NT.

2018 Telstra NATSIAA finalists announced

This year for the first time, Telstra NATSIAA has attracted entries from every state and territory in Australia and the quality and scope of the work is again superb, and underlines the importance of this globally significant artistic celebration:

2018 finalists by state:


Kent Morris – Lisa Waup


George Nona – Janet Fieldhouse – Jenna Lee – Mavis Ngallametta – Tamika Grant-Iramu

Western Australia

Bobby West Tjupurrula – Bugai Whyoulter and Cyril Whyoulter – Daisy Japulija – Jan Goongaja Griffiths – John Prince Siddon – Johnson Ooldigi Lane – Lawrence Pennington – Mabel Juli – Mantua Nangala – Mervyn Street – Ngarralja Tommy May – Nyaparu (William) Gardiner – Sebastian Arrow – Sonia Kurarra – Yukultji Napangati

South Australia

Betty Kuntiwa Pumani – Betty Muffler – Carlene Thompson – David Frank – Elizabeth Dunn – Kunmanara Pompey – Kaylene Whiskey – Ken Sisters Collaborative – Kunmanara Brumby – Mitakiki Men’s Collaborative – Mumu Mike Williams – Niningka Lewis – Nyurpaya Kaika and Mary Pan – Pepai Jangala Carroll – Peter Mungkuri – Ray Ken – Robert Fielding – Sylvia Ken – Tiger Yaltangki – Tuppy Ngintja Goodwin – Vincent Namatjira – Wawiriya Burton – Yaritji Young


Nannette Shaw

Northern Territory

Adrian Jangala Robertson – Baluka Maymuru – Barayuwa Mununggurr – Barrmula Yunupingu – Bernadette Watt and Annabell Amagula – Charlotte Phillipus Napurrula – Dhambit Munuŋgurr – Elisa Jane Carmichael – Gunybi Ganambarr – Guykuḏa Munuŋgurr – Helen Ganalmirriwuy – Joe Guymala – Kathy Inkamala – Kaye Brown – Matthew Dhamuliya Gurruwiwi – Mervyn Rubuntja – Napuwarri Marawili – Patrina Liyadurrkitj Mununggurr – Sally M Mulda – Wukun Wanambi – Yalanba Waṉambi

Presiding over this year’s awards

In 2018 the judging panel welcomes artist Daniel Boyd; Director of the Ian Potter Museum of Art at the University of Melbourne, Kelly Gellatly; and artist Judith Inkamala, senior member of the Hermannsburg Potters.

Daniel Boyd has forged a successful career as an artist since finishing art school in 2005, exhibiting extensively both nationally and internationally; Kelly Gellatly has over 20 years curatorial experience working in leading public art institutions; and Judith Inkamala has been crafting her unique underglazing style and passing her knowledge on to the next generation for 25 years as a Hermannsburg Potter.

About the award

The Telstra NATSIAA is Australia’s longest running and most prestigious Indigenous art competition.  The Awards are now firmly established as a key event on Australia’s cultural calendar. The Museum and Art Gallery of the Northern Territory with Telstra deliver this unique annual event to showcase the best in Indigenous art from across the country.

Collectively the winners this year will receive $80,000 to assist in their career development.

The seven winners will be announced at an awards ceremony and exhibition opening at MAGNT on Friday evening, 10 August 2018.