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Outstanding achievement in Indigenous arts will be celebrated tomorrow night at the Australia Council’s National Indigenous Arts Awards.

The annual awards celebrate the work and contributions of four exceptional Indigenous artists, and will be presented at a ceremony on Tuesday at the Sydney Opera House at 6pm. These prestigious national awards include the Red Ochre Award, two Fellowships and the Dreaming Award.

This year the Red Ochre, Australia’s most esteemed peer-assessed award for an Indigenous artist, will be presented to senior visual artist Hector Tjupuru Burton. Awarded since 1993, the $50,000 prize acknowledges an artists’ outstanding contribution and lifetime achievement to Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander arts at a national and international level.

Renowned Melbourne musicians Bart Willoughby and Dave Arden will each receive Fellowships, which provides $45,000 a year for two years to create a major project.

The Dreaming Award provides $20,000 to a young artist aged 18-26 to create a major body of work through mentoring or partnerships. It will be awarded to interdisciplinary artist Tyrone Sheather.

Australia Council Chair Rupert Myer AM said the annual awards give the highest acknowledgement to the outstanding achievements of Australia’s Indigenous artists.

The awards draw attention to the significant contribution Indigenous artists make to the artistic vibrancy and cultural life of Australia, Mr Myer said.

They encourage us to experience, participate in and cherish the dynamic work that is created.

Australia Council Board Director Lee-Ann Buckskin said Hector Tjupuru Burton was chosen as this year’s Red Ochre Award recipient for his remarkable work as a visual artist and cultural leader.

Mr Burton, a senior Pitjantjatjara man, started painting on canvas in October 2003 after a Men’s Painting Room was established to encourage men to tell and paint their stories, Ms Buckskin said.

Since this life-changing event, Mr Burton has revived ceremonies and documented and recorded stories both north and south of Amata, including the area associated with Uluru.

He paints the Creation Time story of the caterpillars, the Anumara, which tells a story about kinship groups.

Mr Burton’s art has been collected by major institutions, including the Art Gallery of NSW, the Art Gallery of South Australia, the National Gallery of Victoria and the Ian Potter Museum of Art, and the University of Melbourne.

Ms Buckskin said Bart Willoughby, founding member of No Fixed Address and a featured artist in the Black Arm Band, was the first Indigenous artist to record on the Melbourne Town Hall organ.

For Bart’s two-year fellowship project he will stage a series of concerts, which will feature him playing the organ, and promote his album We Still Live On inspired by the instrument, Ms Buckskin said.

Dave Arden has worked with many Aboriginal artists, including Hard Time Band, Koori Youth Band, Mixed Relations and Bart Willoughby, and written and performed songs for numerous albums.

For his fellowship Dave will develop and perform original songs with accompanying stories and projected images about five generations of his family, called The Dave Arden Kokatha/Gunditjmara Songman and Storyteller Showcase.

Tyrone, our final winner, is a young Gumbaynggirr artist from northern NSW who works across several artforms, including photography, film, projection art, paint, textiles and dance.

Tyrone’s project will be GIIDANYBA glowing, interactive humanoid sculptures, emitting sound and two-meters tall, which symbolise the knowledge keepers of the old world. Tyrone will be mentored by other artists as well as Aboriginal elders.


Red Ochre Award

Hector Tjupuru Burton (SA)

Hector Tjupuru Burton is an Aboriginal artist from Amata, in the Anangu Pitjantjatjara Yankunytjatjara Lands of Central Australia. His work has been shown in exhibitions since 2003, in cities across Australia and overseas. His first solo exhibition was held in Melbourne in 2004. Hector’s paintings are held in the National Gallery of Victoria, the Art Gallery of South Australia, the Art Gallery of New South Wales, and Flinders University. Hector has been a finalist for the National Aboriginal & Torres Strait Islander Art Awards in 2011 and 2012. A curator, teacher and Christian Minister, Hector is revered as a caretaker of Anangu law and culture, and has been vital to the recent success and celebrated innovation of the local arts centre, Tjala Arts.


Bart Willoughby (Vic)

Bart Willoughby was first Aboriginal artist to appear in and write lyrics for a docu-drama, the first Aboriginal artist to score a feature film and one of the first to sign a record deal. In 1978 he formed the band No Fixed Address and toured Australia and the UK. No Fixed Address is acknowledged as the tip of the spear of contemporary Aboriginal music. Teacher, collaborator and international ambassador, Bart also starred in the film Wrong side of the Road. He performed at the Edinburgh Festival with the band Colored Stone before re-forming No Fixed Address and touring the USA with Yothu Yindi. In 1989 he formed Mixed Relations and toured extensively in Australia and overseas. Bart continues to tour internationally.

Dave Arden (Vic)

Dave Arden is a highly respected Australian guitarist and singer. He has performed with many Aboriginal artists from Hard Time Band and Koori Youth Band, Archie Roach, Ruby Hunter, Tiddas, Bart Willoughby, Mixed Relations and with members of Goanna, Crowded House, Not Drowning Waving, Hunters and Collectors and Weddings, Parties, Anything. A poetic story teller who embraces a rich cultural heritage, Dave was a member of The Black Arm Band. As a guitarist with Archie Roach, he has toured extensively both nationally and internationally. Dave has also written and performed songs for numerous albums, including his album Goodatha/Gunditjmara clan. Inspired by the war service of his grandparents, Dave’s latest release, Freedom Called, in collaboration with Paul Kelly, is a song of remembrance for Indigenous service men and women. Dave’s fellowship project is the Dave Arden Songman Storyteller Showcase.

Dreaming Award

Tyrone Sheather (NSW)

Tyrone Sheather is an Gumbaynggir artist working within several different art mediums, including photography, film, projection art, paint, textiles and dance. Tyrone made his first film entirely in Gumbaynggirr Language in 2008. This film won Best Short Film and People’s Choice at the Local Clapper Film Festival. The film The Wijiirrjagi is still being used for language teaching by Muurrbay Language Centre and for cultural consciousness training. In 2009 Tyrone received the Lester Bostock scholarship, which included mentorship, a budget and equipment to make a short film, Quarantine. He was artistic director in the inter-arts program Giinagay Gumbaynggirr, funded through the NSW Aboriginal Regional Arts Fund. It is an interactive exhibition that blends art forms to create a tangible world of contemporary Gumbaynggirr knowledge. Tyrone recently staged in Bellingen, NSW an Australia Council funded photographic exhibition Dreaming Aloud, bringing a contemporary view to the original stories of Gumbaynggirr country and those of his great-grandfather.


The National Indigenous Arts Awards were established by the Australia Council’s former Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Arts Board, consisting of leading Indigenous artists, curators and arts managers, to recognise the outstanding work and achievements of their fellow artists. The awards are decided by a panel of Indigenous arts peers from each state and territory, including the Torres Strait.

The prestigious Red Ochre Award has been awarded since 1993 for lifetime achievement to an outstanding Aboriginal and Torres Strait artist. The Dreaming Award, for a young Indigenous artist, was first awarded in 2012 to playwright Nakkiah Lui.

The 2014 awards will be hosted by Rhoda Roberts at the Sydney Opera House. Rachel Maza will present the Fellowships, Ben Graetz will present the Dreaming Award and Australia Council Board Director Lee-Ann Tjunypa Buckskin, a Narungga, Wirangu, Wotjobaluk woman, will present the Red Ochre Award. The Australia Council Chair Rupert Myer AM and Chief Executive Officer Tony Grybowski will each speak at the ceremony.

Red Ochre Award recipients 1993-2013

2013 David Gulpilil
2012 Warren H Williams
2011 Archie Roach
2010 Michael Leslie
2009 Gawirrin Gumana
2008 Doris Pilkington Garimara
2006 Tom E. Lewis
2005 Seaman Dan
2004 John Bulunbulun
2003 Jimmy Little
2002 Dorothy Peters
2001 Banduk Marika
2000 Mervyn Bishop
1999 Justine Saunders
1998 Bob Maza
1997 Jimmy Chi
1996 Maureen Watson
1995 Rita Mills
1994 Mick Namarari Tjapaltjarri
1993 Eva Johnson

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