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SCA lecturer wins National Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Art Award


18 August 2009

From Rite to Ritual, by SCA lecturer Danie Mellor, has won the National Indigenous and Torres Straight Islander Art Award for 2009.
From Rite to Ritual, by SCA lecturer Danie Mellor, has won the National Indigenous and Torres Straight Islander Art Award for 2009.

Art lecturer Danie Mellor from the Sydney College of the Arts has won the $40,000 first prize in the prestigious National Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Art Award held in Darwin at the weekend.

His artwork, entitled From Rite to Ritual, is a large mixed-media work, and depicts the inside of a masonic temple filled with Indigenous dancers and marsupials.

"The structure of the temple is symbolic of the use of architecture that relates to western civilisation, and even settlement and colonisation," he said.

"You have the built structure as opposed to the natural environment of Aboriginal culture. It's that tension between the natural and unnatural which I find really interesting to explore."

Elizabeth Ann Mcgregor director of Sydney's Museum of Contemporary Art, and one of the judges for the NATSIAA prize said of the work: "It had a very strong presence. We kept coming back to it, to the unexpected nature of it. A work like this is a bit of a challenge to the audience."

"Hopefully it will get people thinking about the issues ... what is Aboriginal art, can it be defined these days?" she said.

The National Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Art Award was established in 1984 has come to be regarded as one of the premier national events in the Australian indigenous art calendar.

Danie Mellor, 38, has taught and lectured at secondary and university level, and focuses now on lecturing and supervising graduate students at Sydney College of the Arts as Subject Chair in Theoretical Enquiry. He is from the Mamu and Ngagan language groups in Queensland and was born in Mackay.

Mellor's work, which utilises a broad range of media including drawing, printmaking, ceramics, sculpture and installation, has been included in several high profile exhibitions including Story Place - the art of the Rainforest and Cape York (QAG, 2003), Primavera (MCA, 2005), Artbank - Celebrating 25 Years of Australian Art (National touring exhibition, 2006 - 2007) and Culture Warriors (NGA, 2007-2008), which tours nationally and internationally. He has had work shown in Australia and overseas in the UK, Korea and Japan.

"The Telstra award attracts work from artists that always has an incredible depth and quality, so to be selected as a prize winner is a privilege," Mellor said.


Contact: Nerida Olson

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