Bundaberg-born Dylan Sarra has been named a finalist in The Telstra National Aboriginal & Torres Strait Islander Art Awards (NATSIAA).
Over 300 entries were received for this year’s Awards and Dylan was one of only four finalists selected from Queensland.
Dylan said it was great recognition for the community as a whole.
“I’m incredibly humbled by the fact that the judges saw my work and deemed the story valuable enough to promote it on a national stage,” Dylan said.
“I don’t see this as a personal win, but a win for the Wide Bay Burnett regional community.
“We have such a rich source of cultural history that extends far beyond colonisation.
“It’s this history I draw from to create my work, it’s really fascinating when we start to open our eyes to it.
“I love that I can represent this at such an esteemed level.”
Tradelines exhibition was the inspiration for new work
Dylan first submitted a piece for the Awards 6 years ago, but it was his involvement with a recent exhibition in Bundaberg that was the inspiration for his entry for this year’s Awards.
“The idea came off the back of work I recently displayed and co-curated at the Tradelines exhibition in Bundaberg Regional Art Gallery this year.
“I had such a positive response from that work, that it just felt right to have another go.”
Council’s Manager Arts and Cultural Services, Rod Ainsworth, said the Tradelines exhibition was incredibly successful, due in no small part to Dylan’s involvement.
“It was terrific to work with Dylan over about six months last year,” Rod said.
“He brought his local knowledge as a Traditional Owner here in Bundaberg as well as his broader networks in the arts community.
“We were so impressed with Dylan’s work, not only as an artist but as a curator.
“We couldn’t have made Tradelines without him.”
Tradelines was a showcase of First Nations artists’ work from the Bundaberg Region but also from neighbouring areas, Gladstone, Cherbourg, Fraser Coast, and from Brisbane.
Reconnecting with family
“It was very much a coming home for me,” Dylan said.
“I was able to reconnect with family and spend time with them that I generally wouldn’t have the opportunity to do (shout out to Aunty Tina!).
“Working at the gallery was like being part of a new family who taught me so much and the value of teamwork.
“Engaging with the community was a highlight as well.
“Working alongside Rebecca McDuff, the Public Programs Officer, opened my eyes to something I’d potentially like to explore down the track to complement my art career.
“There’s a real satisfaction in teaching and educating the community around our passion for the arts.”
Dylan’s entry in the Awards, an intaglio print, was inspired by his time in Bundaberg.
“This is a process of inking over an object (3 handmade boomerangs), placing paper over the top and rolling it through a big press.
“The idea aligned with how the original Burnett River rock carvings were recorded with rubbings (a transfer of an image from one surface to another).
Now Dylan is patiently waiting for The Telstra National Aboriginal & Torres Strait Islander Art Awards’ winners to be announced on 7th August and his extended family in Bundaberg will be with him all the way.
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