Ray Thomas (Brabrawooloong Gunnai, Kirrae-wuurung, Djadjawali), ‘A Gunnai Elder – Mum Alice’ 2013, oils on canvas, 149cm x 99 cm.

Ray Thomas- Brabrawooloong Gunnai, Kirrae-wuurung, Djadjawali, ‘A Gunnai Elder – Mum Alice’ 2013, oils on canvas, 149cm x 99 cm – Courtesy: the artist and the Art Gallery of Ballarat, Victoria

On Saturday 02 November,the 2013 Victorian Indigenous Art Awards were announced at the Art Gallery of Ballarat. Presented by Minister for the Arts, Heidi Victoria, the major $30,000 Deadly Art Award was received by Thornbury artist Ray Thomas for his oil on canvas portrait of 94 year older mother, Gunnai Elder, Mum Alice.

“My fellow judges and I were impressed with the way Ray Thomas has referenced the naïve tradition of artists like Henri Rousseau to pay tribute to the experience of Melbourne’s urban Aboriginal community over four generations, acknowledging cultural connection through the elders to an era before white settlement. It is as much an icon as it is a portrait,”[1] explained Mr Morrison.

The work of Thomas was selected from a diverse shortlist of 41 finalists practicing in both traditional and contemporary styles ranging from painting and sculpture to video, photography, woven objects, and more.  Those shortlisted represent both emerging and established artists, young and old from both urban and regional areas. The exhibition provides a well-rounded insight into the vibrant and innovative practice of Victorian Indigenous artists today.

The winners and commended artists are:


Deadly Art Award-$30,000
RAY THOMAS – THORNBURY – A Gunnai Elder – Mum Alice – Oil on canvas

CAL Victorian Indigenous Art Award for Three Dimensional Works – $5,000
Georgia MacGuire – MARYBOROUGH Ill – fitted Young  – Paper bark and plaster bandage

Highly commended – $1,500
John Duggan – South Morang
Tools of the trade “Hunter” Stone, wood, grass tree resin, Kangaroo sinew, paper bark, kangaroo fur and steel

CAL Victorian Indigenous Art Award for Works on Paper – $5,000
Peter Waples-Crowe – WEST MELBOURNE
Just Sayin’ Mixed media on paper

Highly Commended – $1,500
A Time Like This – Photography

Australian Catholic University Acquisitive Award for work based on spirituality and cultural tradition – $5,000
Nathalie (Lucy) Williams-Connelly – SWAN HILL
My Family Life Burning on wood

University of Ballarat Acquisitive Award for work reflecting Victoria’s Western District – $5,000
Bronwyn Razem – TORQUAY
Eel trap with emu feathers New Zealand Flax

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The public are now invited to vote for the 2013 Arts Victoria People’s Choice Award, valued at $2,500. This can be done in person at the Art Gallery of Ballarat, or online at the Arts Victoria website (www.arts.vic.gov.au/peopleschoice).

The 2013 Victorian Indigenous Art Awards on exhibition at the Art Gallery of Ballarat from November 2 until December 8. Entry is free.

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Victorian Indigenous Art Awards and Premier of Victoria websites

[1] http://www.premier.vic.gov.au/media-centre/media-releases/8326-2013-victorian-indigenous-art-awards-winners-announced.html