I’m taking a break from writing for a few days, so thought I’d offer some visuals instead from the night of the Art Award.
Early in the evening, the crowd was entertained by the Gapupuyngu Dancers from Elcho Island:
You can barely see the singers standing in front of the stage, dressed in blues and greens. You can get a better glimpse of the Balgo mob in the lower left hand corner, even if you are looking at the back of their heads.
In keeping with the evening’s celebration of indigenous people of the region, Takbing Siwaliya, a troupe of Macassan musicians and dancers from Sulawesi also performed before the award presentations began.
The Gunbittiji Dancers from Milingimbi honored each of the award winners. I was trying to catch the action live on the left side of the frame here, and the big screen video broadcast on the right. Not the most successful shot, but you should see some of the ones I threw away.
And the winners are:
left to right, Evelyn Pultarra, Banduk Marika, Kantjupayi Benson, judge Destiny Deacon, Gayle Maddigan, and another of the Tjanpi weavers whose name I did not catch. I don’t know where Naminapu Maymuru-White was at the time.
And while that photo was being taken the Saltwater Band was blowing down the house.
This was my first experience of the Art Award, and none of the stories people had told me about what it would be like came close to the thrill of it.
(I also had a very Australian, and very un-American experience, unrelated to art, really. Sitting about five feet from me in the audience was Robert Hill, the Minister for Defence. I’d heard that government officials in Australia are often “accessible” in public places, and here he was, a regular bloke in the audience. I couldn’t imagine being within 500 feet of Donald Rumsfeld in the USA. Not that I’d want to be; I have trouble being in the same country with him, but that’s another story….)