Aboriginal photographer/videographer and artist Wayne Quilliam
has been awarded what is considered one of the most prestigious Australian art accolades: 2009 Aboriginal Artist of the Year.
In front of more than a thousand people at the Brisbane Convention Centre Wayne accepted his award from Bangarra artistic director Stephen Page and said I am very honoured to be nominated for Artist of Year, but to win is overwhelming. This award signifies that we as a people respect all art forms and are as progressive as any race when it comes to preserving our cultural heritage while embracing new practices. I would like to thank every Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander person that has helped me become the person I am, for sharing stories and experiences most people only dream of. I would like to thank all my family in Tasmania, importantly my amazing wife Jodie who encouraged me to chase my dream at whatever cost, this award is as much for her as for me, Wayne said.
Wayne is considered one of Australias most prominent Aboriginal photographic artists working on the global stage with more than 130 solo and group exhibitions in Australia Europe Asia and the USA 35 in the past 18 months. His recent shows in Berlin and Vienna attracted capacity crowds and were extended for 3 months and featured on BBC television. It was estimated his Sorry more than a Word exhibition at Parliament House in Canberra was seen by more than two hundred thousand people.
His unique style encompasses the spiritual and artistic dimensions of Aboriginal culture and his art is transformed through traditional and modern practices including developing a world first technique that infuses the artwork with traditional ochres and plant dyes. Wayne is highly sought after by Australian and International organisations to product culturally appropriate images that accurately represent his people. His work includes documenting every significant Indigenous event of the past 15 years including the Apology 1967 Referendum Flight Garma, Laura, Burunga, Dreaming Festivals. He won the 2008 Human Rights Award for his work on the Apology with the Koori Mail and was a finalist in the prestigious Walkley Awards for a social documentary on the block in Redfern, Sydney.
He presently has exhibitions at the National Museum in Canberra, Art Centre Berlin, Germany, PaRing Gallery, Melbourne and is headlining the Ballart International Photo Biennale; he will open new exhibitions in Tokyo Japan, Dusseldorf Germany and Sydney in October. His Sorry-more than a word exhibition that was opened by the Prime Minister at Parliament House in Canberra earlier this year will open at the Garma Festival in the Northern Territory in August, from the capital to the bush.