Mabel Juli, one of Australia’s most cherished Indigenous artists, has carried off the $25,000 Kate Challis RAKA Award for 2013, Her painting, Garnkeny Ngarranggarni(Moon Dreaming), was commended for its refined, minimal style.

A respected Gija elder and noted artist, 80-year-old Mabel travelled from her home at Warmun in the East Kimberley to accept the award at last night’s opening of Under the Sun: the Kate Challis RAKA Award 2013 exhibition at the Ian Potter Museum of Art, University of Melbourne.

Amidst a slew of praise, the judges said that Mabel’s use of natural pigments conveyed the potency of country and the ancient, enduring essence of the Ngarranggarni (Dreaming). “At the same time, the work communicates across many cultural symbols, presenting an interplay between various artistic forms and between many beliefs and traditions,” they added. “It is poetic, sophisticated and deeply grounded in Indigenous tradition but also extends outward to suggest the complex relationships that exist between diverse cultural and natural human experiences.”

Garnkeny Ngarranggarni(2010) was selected from a shortlist of diverse and innovative works by artists from remote, regional and urban Australia, including Teresa Baker (SA), Daniel Boyd (QLD/NSW), Hector Burton (SA), Timothy Cook (Tiwi/NT), the late Kunmarnanya Mitchell (WA),...