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West Arnhem Elder Leslie Nawirridj announced joint winner of 2023 Portrait of a Senior Territorian art award

Callan Morse -

West Arnhem Traditional Owner Leslie Nawirridj has been announced joint winner of the Northern Territory's Portrait of a Senior Territorian art award for 2023.

Mr Nawirridj, a Kunwinjku Elder collaborated on the winning piece, a portrait of himself, with Darwin's Catherine Miles.

Titled Proud Aboriginal Man, the work impressed the judges with its profound technicality, originality, and effectiveness in capturing the identity of Mr Nawirridj.

In particular, his involvement as both the collaborating artist and subject of the portrait was noted by the judges, with Mr Nawirridj incorporating his traditional fine-line cross-hatching technique (rarrk), depicting cultural symbols to enrich the authenticity and depth of the artwork.

Leslie Nawirridj and Catherine Miles' portrait of Mr Nawirridj titled 'Proud Aboriginal Man'. (Image: supplied)

The jointly-produced acrylic on canvas piece by Mr Nawirridj and Ms Miles, both award-winning artists in their own right, "demonstrated an exceptional command of technique, symbolism, and emotion" to win the $7000 first prize.

Indigenous senior Territorians featured extensively throughout the annual art awards.

A portrait of Elder Albert Lilypiyana titled What Are They On About was awarded runner-up, artist Catherine Connor receiving $2000 for her acrylic on canvas portrait depiction of Mr Lilypiyana.

A portrait of Tiwi Islands Elder Therese Wokai Bourke by last year's winner, Montana Kitching was also on the winners list, awarded $500 for third place.

Catherine Connor's portrait of Albert Lilypiyana titled 'What Are They On About'. (Image: supplied)

The works were assessed by the award's judges based on criteria including technical expertise, originality, effectiveness in capturing the personality of the subject, effectiveness in capturing the Territory's identity, culture and history, contribution to the legacy of NT art and the portrait of a senior Territorian as well as their personal response to the work.

Minister for Arts, Culture and Heritage Chansey Paech said the Portrait of a Senior Territorian works are another demonstration of the Territory's outstanding artistic talent.

"I am really impressed with the stylistic and cultural diversity of the works, which each unveil a special story about our seniors," Minister Paech said.

Northern Territory Minister for Youth, Seniors and Equality, Ngaree Ah Kit said the Portrait of a Senior Territorian award showcases the Territory's visual storytellers and fosters artistic excellence.

Montana Kitching's portrait of Tiwi Islands Elder Therese Wokai Bourke. (Image: supplied)

"Just as importantly, it is a fabulous celebration of our seniors which highlights the rich contributions they make to their communities, and the Northern Territory as a whole," Minister Ah Kit said.

"A picture paints a thousand words and the portraits in this exhibition have some very interesting and intriguing stories to tell."

This year's Portrait of a Senior Territorian entries are currently on exhibition at Parliament House in Darwin until Sunday 10 December, with voting for the Portrait of a Senior Territorian People's Choice Award now open.

The winner is set to be announced on 12 December 2023.

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