Griffith University: First Nations artist wins national award

Griffith University student Kyra Mancktelow has been named Telstra Emerging Artist at this year’s National Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Art Awards (NATSIAA).

The awards showcase the best Australian Indigenous art from emerging and established artists around the country.

More than 300 entries were received this year, and three of four Queensland finalists were from the Queensland College of Art (QCA), including current students Kyra Mancktelow, Dylan Sarra and alumnus Elisa Jane (Leecee) Carmichael.


Moongalba II by Kyra Mancktelow. Photo courtesy of the artist.
Quandamooka artist Kyra Mancktelow said her winning entry, Moongalba II, was inspired by Australia’s troubled past.

The haunting mono print depicts uniforms worn by children on the Moongalba mission, made from Tarleton, a fabric traditionally used to remove coloured ink from etching plates.

“It was my way of exploring the assimilation regimes that forced children to leave their culture, heritage and families behind,” she said.

“The abiding theme of my art practice is bringing forth the untold histories of Australia, allowing for a greater recognition of the truth.”


QCA Honours student Kyra Mancktelow
Kyra is completing her Honours at the QCA after graduating from the Contemporary Australian Indigenous Art (CAIA) program last year.

She said her studies had a profound impact on her development as an artist.

“My time at CAIA taught me how to create work with meaning, work that reflects our knowledge and culture,” she said.

The talented artist’s first major solo exhibition, Unsilenced, was held at Logan Art Gallery last month.

CAIA director Dr Carol McGregor said the number of students and alumni represented at this year’s NATSIAA awards demonstrated the rich and diverse contemporary Indigenous artistic practice fostered at the QCA.


CAIA Director Dr Carol McGregor
The CAIA program has established the careers of many leading Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander artists, including Vernon Ah Kee, Dale Harding and Tony Albert.

“It makes all of us so proud,” Dr McGregor said.

“It shows the strength of the QCA and CAIA.

“The key is the connection to culture. We give students the artistic tools to explore their cultural heritage and they leave with a deep understanding of their Indigenous identity.”

Last year, fellow QCA alumnus Jenna Lee won the Wandjuk Marika 3D Memorial Award at the NATSIAA’s for her sculpture HIStory vessels.

Fellow graduate Tony Albert took out the top prize in 2014 for his photographic series, We Can Be Heroes.

Works by all this year’s finalists will be shown at the Museum and Art Gallery of the Northern Territory until February 6, 2022.

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