Deadly win for local artist

AN artist who grew up in Swan Hill has taken out the Victorian Indigenous Art Awards — a statewide competition featuring the talents of more than 40 indigenous artists working in a variety of mediums. 

SYMBOLIC: Indigenous artist Glenda Nicholls was awarded the top honour at the Victorian Indigenous Art Awards at the weekend with her woven work A Woman's Rite to Passage. PHOTO — Nigel Clements.

SYMBOLIC: Indigenous artist Glenda Nicholls was awarded the top honour at the Victorian Indigenous Art Awards at the weekend with her woven work A Woman's Rite to Passage. PHOTO — Nigel Clements.

Glenda Nicholls' artwork A Woman's Rite of Passage, featuring three life-size woven cloaks, stole the show on Saturday night in Ballarat as Minister for Creative Industries Martin Foley awarded her the coveted $30,000 Deadly Art Award.

Robinvale artist Brendan Kennedy was also recognised — winning the Australian Catholic University Acquisitive Award worth $5000 for his painting Wangi Withinu Ngauwingi Walwa. 

Ms Nicholls, who now lives in Mackay, drew inspiration from her ancestors net weaving, using natural materials like emu feathers, mussel shells and possum fur to create the cloaks, and described her artistic process as a type of "inbuilt knowledge".

Each cloak symbolises a different part of a welcome to country ceremony — the brown cloak represents acknowledgement of country, the red cloak welcome to country and the plain symbolises the Aboriginal elders.

Ms Nicholls, who teaches weaving to various Indigenous groups around the state, said while it was essential to pass on traditions like weaving, it was equally as important to pay homage to the 'story line' — a recognition of those who have come before you.

"In our culture things have to be done respectfully and in a certain way," she explained.

"Sharing of culture requires respect and acknowledgement of that story line.

"If I was from the city and made nets for the Murray River it would make no sense."

For more on this story, grab a copy of today's Guardian (Wednesday, August 12). 

To view the finalist artworks, check out the Art Gallery of Ballarat's website

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