On Friday 10 August, Telstra and the Museum and Art Gallery of the Northern Territory will host a special event in Darwin to celebrate and honour the country’s leading Indigenous artists at the 2018 Telstra National Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Art Awards.

The Telstra NATSIAA unearth new, emerging talent and showcase the most important contemporary Indigenous art being created in Australia today. In the 35 years since its inception it has grown to become Australia’s longest running and most prestigious national Indigenous art prize.

And for 27 of those years, Telstra has proudly supported the Award in collaboration with the Museum and Art Gallery of Northern Territory, delivering this unique annual event, helping to amplify Indigenous voices within the social and cultural dialogue of Australia.

The evening promises to be a celebration of the diversity of Indigenous culture, kicking off with live music and dance performances on the Museum lawns from some of Australia’s most exciting and contemporary performing artists. These include Melbourne-based Baker Boy, the Northern Territory Dance Company, Muggera Dancers and Torres Strait Island rapper, Mau Power.

Celebrating new Indigenous artistic talent at Telstra NATSIAA 2018

Of 308 entries received from every state and territory nationwide, the Telstra NATSIAA judging panel selected 66 exceptional artworks shortlisted as finalists for seven separate award categories. This includes the overall winner of the Telstra Art Award, which is the final award and will be presented by Telstra CEO Andy Penn.

The seven Telstra NATSIAA categories encapsulate the diverse practices of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander art, with each winner awarded a $5,000 prize and the overall winner of the Telstra Art Award receiving $50,000. Categories include the Telstra General Painting Award, the Telstra Bark Painting Award, the Telstra Works on Paper Award and the Wandjuk Marika 3D Memorial Award, also sponsored by Telstra.

Last year we also created and awarded the Telstra Multimedia Award and the Telstra Emerging Artists Award. The Emerging Artist Award is presented to an artist working within their first five years of practice, while the Multimedia Award celebrates the thriving new practices of artists using technology to create their works. It was heartening to see that the number of entrants in both of these categories has grown in 2018, underscoring the interest in Telstra NATSIAA from a new generation of artists.

The Telstra NATSIAA ceremony is followed by the official opening of the 2018 exhibition at the Museum and Art Gallery of the Northern Territory, which hosts the collection of work from the 66 finalists. It will open to the public on Friday 10 August directly after the evening awards ceremony concludes, with all works on display until Sunday 11 November 2018.