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Nonagenarian artist wins Australia's top indigenous art award

(Xinhua)

10:54, August 12, 2011

CANBERRA, Aug. 11 (Xinhua) -- A 96-year-old indigenous Australian artist, Dickie Minyintiri on Thursday was named the winner of the 28th National Aboriginal and Torres Strait Island Art Award (NATSIAA), one of the most prestigious art awards in the nation.

Minyintiri lives in Anangu Pitjantjatjara Yankunytjatjara (APY) lands in remote South Australia.

Sitting in a wheelchair, Minyintiri, who finds it difficult to speak, managed a quick smile after being named the winner for his piece titled Kanyalakutjina (Euro Tracks).

The artwork shows tracks of kangaroos, dogs and emu coming to a water hole to drink, and each layer and line is a memory Minyintiri has of a journey he has undertaken.

Judges of the award said Minyintiri's painting was a " spontaneous and multi-layered" expression of the winner's relationship to his country.

"The opacity of harmonious, pale pigments and the dynamic reiteration of ancestral tracks through country, create a shimmering surface that radiates energy and spirituality," they said in a statement.

Julian Green, who works with the Minyintiri, said Minyintiri only began painting four or five years ago because he did not have any time before that.

"He has been a very busy man and has worked his whole life," Green told the Australia Associated Press on Thursday. "He has been a sheep herder, he was a policeman for a while and a shearer.

Minyintiri's win is good news for the APY community, which in the past has been linked to high rates of petrol sniffing and child sexual abuse.

Alison Milyika Carroll from his community said she was very moved by the recognition.

"We are also very happy that people are seeing the strong art- making of the APY land art center," Caroll said.

Kanyalakutjina (Euro Tracks) was chosen from 60 finalists to win the top prize at the NATSIAA. Minyintiri will receive 41,075 U.S. dollars for winning the award.

Other artists who took home category prizes at the awards were Ricardo Idagi (new media), Dennis Nona (works on paper), Raelene Kerinauia (bark painting), Gali Yalkarriwuy Gurruwiwi (three- dimensional award) and Bobby West Tjupurrula (general painting).

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