The Qantas Foundation Encouragement of Australian Contemporary Art Award

Since the inaugural Qantas Foundation Award in 2008, the 24HR Art Director has been invited each year to nominate three Northern Territory artists to go before the Award judging panel.

‘We wholly support this significant prize targeting support for NT artists in the first ten years of their professional practice, enabling the realisation of professional develop that would otherwise be out of their reach, to experience art worlds outside of their immediate surrounds. It has been a challenge to narrow it down to a list of three from such a diverse range of practices that we see in the NT, across Indigenous and non-Indigenous art forms.” Steve Eland, Director 24HR Art – Northern Territory Centre for Contemporary Art.

Qantas, through its charitable foundation, the Qantas Foundation, initiated the Qantas Foundation Encouragement of Australian Contemporary Art Award in 2008.

The Award is one of the richest art prizes in Australia. It is also unique, requiring entrants to submit a body of work, rather than one individual piece, to be in the running. A winner from each state and territory is awarded a cash prize and air travel to the value of A$10,000.

Qantas Sponsorship Manager and Award judge, Ken Groves, said the Qantas Foundation was privileged to have some of Australia’s eminent art identities on the judging panel, including Kon Gouriotis representing the Australia Council for the Arts, Edmund Capon from the Art Gallery of NSW, Alan Dodge, a former Director ofthe Art Gallery of Western Australia, renowned collector Pat Corrigan and Elizabeth Ann MacGregor from Sydney’s Museum of Contemporary Art.

“The Qantas Foundation is very proud to have assembled some of the champions of Australian art on our judging panel for the Qantas Foundation Encouragement of Australian Contemporary Art Award,” Mr Groves said.

“These are all people who share the Qantas Foundation’s commitment to encouraging Australian artists, and we are very proud to work with the arts sector to highlight the importance of corporate Australia supporting the arts in our community, particularly in these critical economic circumstances.”


Since the inaugural award in 2008 the 24HR Art Director, as well as other CAOS Directors, have been invited by the Qantas Foundation to nominate three State and Territory emerging visual arts practitioners for the national Qantas Foundation Encouragement of Australian Contemporary Art Award – which is then independently judged by representatives of the Qantas Foundation, the Australia Council and Senior Managers of leading Australian cultural institutions. During the rigors of the nomination process, the 24HR Art Director seeks advice from a wide ranging group of NT arts professionals and academics. The process of short-listing and final nomination has at all times been undertaken with the utmost professionalism and transparency – for the 2012 Award the winning NT nominee was independently and unanimously nominated by the 24HR Art Board of Management.


Min Wong

Min Wong is a Darwin based cross-disciplinary artist, having completed a Diploma of Graphic Design at CDU and previously a Bachelor of Visual Communications with Honors at the University of Technology, Sydney. She works full-time as Exhibition Designer at the Museum and Art Gallery of the Northern Territory whilst finding time to pursue and develop a young and ambitious artistic career. As an Australian-Chinese woman she is by no means seeking the mundane and obvious in her mixed heritage, instead she is working at the intersection of differing cultures, and how policies of multiculturalism and immigration affect human relationships and interactions within societies – this interface is no more extreme or in your face than what is witnessed in the contemporary cultural complexities of a day in modern Darwin. But Min intends taking her home bound experiences further to research the migration of Chinese people to Indonesia, the Philippines and the United States, including investigations into anti-Chinese sentiment in these countries, and the so called related ‘Exclusion Acts’ that displaced Chinese migrants.

“I am acutely aware of these issues through living in Darwin: a multicultural city with elements of historic racial intolerance for many cultures. I am interested in the effects official policies that have on cultural life in given societies and the ramifications of racial tensions on human beings.”

The most evident and potent example of this enquiry in Australia is the refusal of a society to recognize Indigenous Traditional Law within a Western system that espouses to all people being treated equally before the law and safeguards existing to ensure that people are not treated arbitrarily or unfairly by governments or officials.

Traveling, researching and making art overseas will enable Min to achieve a deeper comprehension of her creative concepts, to strengthen and further develop her own vernacular visual language.


Talitha Kennedy

Talitha Kennedy has been based in Darwin since 2005 and during this time has developed an artistic practice to examine the human relationship with wild nature. In 2011 Talitha completed Master by Research in Visual Art at Charles Darwin University.

“My practice is grounded in close observation of my immediate natural world, but I’m not interested in just what is seen rather what is felt. My reinterpretations of visible natural forms explore the psychological sensations experienced when humans encounter wild nature. I am interested in the paradox of our wonder for the beauty of natural landscape and the fear that binds us to the comfort of our homes and the constructed environment.

The opportunity for travel and research offered by the Qantas Foundation will not only enhance my awareness of contemporary art and therefore Australia’s voice in global culture, but I aspire to experience and practice amidst the cultural epicentre and urban metropolis New York. I will test my perception of this icon of the First World by also visiting the economically and environmentally vulnerable nations that lay between Darwin and NYC, the Pacific Islands. The strong exposure to indigenous art in the Northern Territory has increased my fascination for the power of art on a primal level. By visiting these places I will explore the contrast between aspirations of consumerist society and the fascination with animist, place-based cultures.”


Anna Reynolds

Anna, a long-term resident of the small NT community of Batchelor, holds a Bachelor of Creative Arts and Industries, Honours (First Class) and Bachelor Visual Art (majoring in painting), Charles Darwin University NT.

“The professional development opportunity I seek to undertake would be to meander through some of the worlds great cities, photographing the monumental and iconic symbols each presents as its public face and to discover the lesser known spaces where a city breathes; the intersections between the natural world and urban culture. My current work explores that edge as I have experienced it, the interplay that exists between local commerce, urban evolution and the destruction of natural spaces. I am aware that this subject matter has wider universal implications of addressing commercialism and the environmental impact of human culture. This project would give me the opportunity to travel outside my ‘known’ and remote city and experience this duality in a global context. Locations that I am drawn to are New York City, London and Dubai. Each city is a significant international symbol of pandemic commerciality; each offers unlimited opportunity to explore a diverse and unique contemporary urban construction that signifies today’s extremes in environment and economy.”


Marina Murdilnga

Marina was born in Maningrida in 1960 and has spent most of her life living in a remote community in western Arnhem Land.

Daughter of acclaimed artist Mick Kubarkku and weaver Lulu Laradjbi, she started to learn how to paint and weave under their apprenticeship. In 2000, she started to make linocut prints representing spirits of the bush. Using her weaving skills she invented a new form of representation of the Yawkyawk spirit, spirits that reside in fresh water streams and rock pools.

In 2004 Marina first exhibited her unique fibre work at the 21st Telstra National Aboriginal and Torres Strait Arts Awards at the Museum and Art Gallery of the Northern Territory, Darwin. This was to be the beginning of a successful series of exhibitions for Marina and her unique style of weaving.

Traveling on her land gives Marina strength, she gets her energy and creativity from her land and her family, however Marina also has a desire to share her knowledge with other Australian artists and to learn new techniques.


Neridah Stockley

As a painter based in Central Australia, Neridah’s practice largely concentrates on working directly from the landscape. Neridah has lived in the Northern Territory for 10 years and has created significant bodies of work through working directly on-site in chosen landscapes, including the Ilparpa Claypans, Nyirripi, Tennant Creek and the Western and Eastern MacDonnell Ranges, in Central Australia.

“My intention as a Painter is to maintain and continue my approach in the plein-air tradition that I apply in my discipline. The ability to meet a landscape directly within painting presents many working challenges.”

Historically, many Australian painters have observed and interpreted some of the locations Neridah has visited, however her aim is to reinterpret these landscapes, “It is essential as a painter working in this tradition that I am able to base myself in the landscape for longer and sustained periods of time. It is through persistence, direct and continuous observation where my strength as a painter resides. This is how I am able to continue to develop a dialogue and visual conversation with Australian landscapes.”