Megan Cope is the recipient of the 2015 Western Australian Indigenous Art Award of $50,000, one of the nations richest Indigenous art prizes for exceptional achievements by an Australian Indigenous artist. Cope was selected from 118 nominations received from across Australia.
Megan Cope was born in Brisbane, Queensland and now lives and works in Melbourne, Victoria. She is a Noonuccal/Ngugi woman from Stradbroke Island.
The 2015 selection and judging panel consisted of Amy Barrett-Lennard, Director of Perth Institute of Contemporary Arts (PICA); Kimberley Moulton, Curator and Project Officer of Birrarung Gallery at the Melbourne Museum and Clotilde Bullen, former Curator of Indigenous Art, Art Gallery of WA.
The panel commented, Megan Copes multi-layered video work, The Blaktism 2014, speaks to a contemporary reality for Indigenous Australians. In it, she offers a theatrical and humorous insight into the complexities of Indigenous identity, notions of citizenship and Australian stereotypes through her imagined blaktism. Copes dramatic ritual challenges concepts of authenticity, acceptance and belonging. It highlights the often unseen power that religious and state authorities have to determine and authorise identity and agency for Indigenous Australians.
Eunice Yunurupa Porter is the recipient of the Western Australian Artist Award of $10,000. This prize is awarded for the exceptional achievements of a Western Australian Indigenous artist. Eunice was born in Wirrkural, WA and lives and works in Warakurna, WA. She is a senior Ngaanyatjarra woman.
The panel said of Porters work, Eunice Yunurupa Porters body of work documents contemporary history for her own community, including first contact with non-Indigenous Australians that remain within the senior members living memory. Her works also depict community life within a changing environment. For instance, one of the Award winning paintings talks of the ongoing mining activity on her communitys Country and how that affects their way of life. It is a pertinent Western Australian story that has been told in a highly lyrical and evocative manner. Found objects add texture to her paintings, which quirkily play with scale.
The winner of the Peoples Choice Award, valued at $5,000, will be the artist with the highest number of votes from the public throughout the coming months. Voting can be done online at artgallery.wa.gov.au or in the exhibition space. Entries close at 5pm (WST), Monday 28 September, 2015. The winning artist will be announced on Thursday 1 October, 2015.
Carly Lane, the newly appointed Curator of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Art at AGWA said, Each of the artists in the exhibition brings a unique vision to the Awards. Their work is a mix of styles, ideas and aesthetic that, when placed together, reveals some of the dominant and emerging mediums, subjects and experiences shaping contemporary Indigenous art today. Their work gives insight into the aspirations and concerns of the artists, as well as those of the wider Indigenous community.
The artists come from metropolitan, regional and remote areas of Australia. As a result, their works also offer a snapshot of, and an opportunity to celebrate, the myriad of Indigenous peoples and cultures across Australia.
The Western Australian Indigenous Art Awards was founded in 2008 and is supported by the Government of Western Australia through the Department of Culture and the Arts. The Awards exhibition is on display at the Art Gallery of Western Australia
from 4 July 12 October 2015.