Mumu Mike Williams has become the first ever winner of the Footscray Art Prize, taking out the title from more than 800 worthy admissions. The Pitjantjatjara artist’s entry, Postbag Painting, used re purposed Australia Post canvas mailbags to create the winning piece.
The Prize, currently in its first year, is a unique collaboration between Victoria University, Maribyrnong City Council, Footscray Community Arts Centre and the Rotary Club of Footscray, and has a total value of $17,500.
The judging panel comprised of Australia’s premier artists and gallery curators, including Jason Smith (Director of Geelong Galley), Beverly Knight (Executive Director Alcaston Gallery), Indigenous artist Reko Rennie, Richard Ennis (Curator for Incinerator Galley in Moonee Ponds) and artist Simon Spain.
Williams grew up around Pukatja and is a traditional Ngangkari healer, currently living in the Northern Territory. He says he was delighted and surprised to have won, and was moved by the receptive audience in Melbourne, “I entered this prize as I knew that Footscray was a place that really embraced and celebrated diversity, which is important to me.”
The mailbags, which are Commonwealth property, create a bold statement about ownership and the conflict between Commonwealth law and Anangu lore. “I live in a very remote part of Australia where mail is delivered by plane twice a week. The bags are used for everything in my community, but after I started painting on them the deeper meanings became more and more apparent,” says Williams.
The paintings were made using acrylic paint, kulata (traditionally made spear), Punu (wood), Malu Pulyku (Kangaroo tendon) and kiti (resin of spinifex grass).
The artwork is on display at the Footscray Community Arts Centre from 25th of May until the 24th of June 2107.
For more information about the full list of winners and shortlist visit: http://footscrayarts.com/event/footscray-art-prize/ or https://www.vu.edu.au/footscray-university-town/footscray-art-prize