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This year’s NATSIAA 2020 winners have been announced

Ngarralja Tommy May

The winners of the 2020 Telstra NATSIAA are here.

This year's major winner is Western Australia artist, Ngarralja Tommy May. His winning piece is called Wirrkanja 2020 and it was selected from amongst 65 exceptional finalist works.

May is a Wangkajunga and Walmajarri man born in Yarrkurnja in the Great Sandy Desert.


Ngarralja Tommy May
Fitzroy Crossing, WA
Wirrkanja 2020
Etching on metal and enamel paint 120 x 120cm - Courtesy of the Artist and Mangkaja Arts


"This is about my Country. There is a clay pan, near to Kurtal. It's also called Helena Springs, a well on the Canning Stock Route,” explains May, now based in Fitzroy Crossing.

“Thank you mob in Darwin for this business. Thank you. At last. I feel proud. I’ve been trying all my life, all the time second, fourth, last, sometimes nothing. But I got it now, today. My days, my time this year, I’m the winner. At last.

“This tin was my new idea, new work. This work is ‘Wirrkanja’, it’s the country where I lost my brother, its jilji (sand dune) country and flat country. Theres a jila there (living spring waterhole). It’s not far from Kurtal, over two sand dunes. It’s in flood time, the water runs down the jilji (sand dunes). This is my country and my family’s country. This is my job, it’s a good job.”

May’s entry was praised by the experienced judging panel which includes Director of Injalak Arts Donna Nadjamerrek, Darwin based visual artist Karen Mills, and Curator of Araluen Arts Centre Stephen Williamson.

The judges noted: "with an artistic career spanning more than three decades, Ngarralja Tommy May’s triumphant artwork symbolises the artist at the height of his creative powers. This work announces itself with exquisite beauty and power in the signature style Mr May has pioneered in recent years.”

May was previously an executive on the Arnhem, Northern and Kimberley Artists (ANKA) board of directors. He held his position for 21 years. He will receive a $50,000 cash prize for his work.

The other NATSIAA winner for 2020 are:


Adrian Jangala ROBERTSON

Telstra General Painting Award

Born 1962 Warlpiri language Resides Alice Springs, NT

Yalpirakinu 2020 - synthetic polymer paint on canvas 42 x 122 cm



Telstra Bark Painting Award

Born 1964 Yolŋu Matha Resides Yirrkala, NT

Muṉguymirri 2020 - earth pigments on Stringybark 106 x 68 cm



Iluwanti KEN

Telstra Works on Paper Award

Born 1944 Pitjantjatjara language Resides Amata, SA

Walawulu ngunytju kukaku ananyi (Mother eagles going hunting) 2020 - ink on paper 153 x 250 cm


Jenna LEE

Wandjuk Marika 3D Memorial Award (sponsored by Telstra)

Born 1992 Larrakia/Wardaman/Karajarri languages Resides Brisbane, QLD

HIStory vessels 2020 - pages and cover board of the Ladybird History Book 'The Story of Captain Cook', linen book binding thread, glue 29 x 144 x 20 cm (10 pieces)


Siena Mayutu Wurmarri STUBBS

Telstra Multimedia Award

Born 2002 Yolŋu Matha language (Dhuwalandja Gumatj clan) Resides Yirrkala, NT

Shinkansen 2019 - Film and sound 2:47 minute loop

A Yolŋu girl in Japan - The poem and footage featured in this film were created on the Shinkansen (bullet train) from Nagoya to Kyoto.



Telstra Emerging Artist Award

Born 1997 Worrora language Resides Derby, WA

Yoogu 2020 - earth pigments on Stringybark 116 x 39 cm



All of the artworks will be on display from August 8 2020 until January 31 2021 at the Museum and Art Gallery of the Northern Territory. Unfortunately, coronavirus-related border restrictions may prevent many of reaching the gallery. So, the 2020 Telstra NATSIAA virtual gallery can be viewed online.

Audiences will soon have the opportunity to vote for their favourite artwork and artist in the Telstra People’s Choice Award.


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