Top award for prolific artist of Our Old People
A South Hedland author, translator and artist has posthumously won one of the most prestigious awards in contemporary indigenous art.
The late Nyaparu (William) Gardiner was one of the most prolific and successful artists at the South Hedland-based Spinifex Hill Studios and won the works on paper category in the Telstra National Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Art Awards with his piece, Our Old People.
Gardiner died last year aged 75.
His eldest daughter Sheila Gardiner accepted the award in Darwin on August 9.
Former Spinifex Hill Studios manager Greg Taylor worked with Gardiner closely when he picked up painting in the last five years of his life.
Mr Taylor said Gardiner’s paintings offered insights into historic events such as the 1946 strike when he sorted tin as a child in Moolyella.
Gardiner had said in the past his art was a telling of his life story.
“It’s mostly about what I’ve done,” he said.
“Some of these paintings that I illustrate is just to show that that’s how we used to live, mostly around this Pilbara area to Marble Bar. I like to draw this sort of thing.
“Doing these paintings is how I remember our old people.
“When someone is dead and gone, you can’t always tell the story or call his name — I got all these old people up there in my mind.
“I have some worries. I think of some of my old people. We can’t forget them.”
Gardiner’s art will be on display until November 3 at the Museum and Art Gallery of the Northern Territory.
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