Winning artwork draws inspiration from Aboriginal ancestry

Published on 03 December 2021

Yapang Art Prize winner Maddison Gibbs with her work at MAC.jpg

Aboriginal artist Maddison Gibbs has been named winner of the inaugural yapang Emerging Art Prize for a stunning artwork inspired by her female ancestors.

Shedding Serpents took out the acquisitive prize ahead of more than 30 finalists from across Australia, whose collective works feature in a new exhibition opening on Saturday 4 December at the Museum of Art and Culture yapang (MAC).

Gibbs, a proud Barkindii woman who grew up in Dubbo, has previously featured in Sydney’s Vivid Festival and the Sydney Fringe Festival for her works, which focus on stories of past and present Aboriginal societies and spirit.

Competition judge Erin Vink, Curator of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander art at the Art Gallery of NSW, said Gibbs employed techniques that deviated from the traditional dot painting style.

“It’s an exciting artwork showing the versatility of contemporary Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander art,” Ms Vink said.

“It shows how Aboriginal art is a living culture and it’s developing in response to other contemporary art styles and movements, and it’s a piece you can really connect with emotionally.”

MAC Curator Courtney Wagner commended the finalists on the quality and variety of their entries.

“We received a very high calibre of entries across a whole range of mediums, which was great to see,” she said.

Gibbs said her winning artwork, hewn from Australian timber, was inspired by female ancestors “who are still continuing the fight”.

“The circular layout invites the viewer to look into this abstract mirror/island/planet to assess their contribution to women and Mother Earth,” she said.

“The circular composition suggests a worldwide issue and community action to improve.”

Lake Macquarie City Council and Create NSW committed $15,000 to purchase the winning work, as well as other ‘highly commended’ works from the competition.

The yapang Emerging Art Prize exhibition is on display at MAC until 20 February.

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