Canberra-based Indigenous artist and jewellery maker, Krystal Hurst, has once again been named a finalist for the Telstra National Aboriginal & Torres Strait Islander Art Awards (NATSIAA), after receiving her first finalist nomination for the prestigious award in 2019.
As was the case last year, Hurst will be the ACT’s sole representative out of the 65 finalists named in April.
Widely regarded as Australia’s most prestigious and longest running Indigenous art awards, Hurst told Canberra Weekly “it was such a surprise” and “really amazing” to be named a finalist for a second year in a row.
Part of the awards is an exhibition, which will be exhibited at the Museum and Art Gallery of the Northern Territory, for which all finalists produce a work.
Hurst’s NATSIAA artwork was inspired by years of reflection on her elders and ancestors.
“With this piece I really wanted to think of ways I can honour them and pay tribute to the matriarchs who have done so much for our communities on the Mid-North Coast,” she said.
Hurst explained that the shells, pipis and seaweed beads that adorn her work represent a connection to the ocean while also saying something “very empowering and honouring” about her ancestors.
“I grew up hearing so many stories relating to our communities and relatives how they grew up through the mission days when their lives were controlled through The Aborigines Protection Act.
“Thinking about how those policies have impacted culture and practice, I guess that’s where my lens and focus is,” she said.
Hurst said the experience of participating in the awards last year was “one of the best” she has been part of.
“Going up to Darwin, being immersed in whole exhibition was amazing, as well as getting to meet all the artists and curators.
“There’s just something so special and powerful I see expressed through Indigenous arts, different mediums and different ways of telling stories,” she said.
Off the back of that experience, Hurst says it helped crystallise her vision of where she sees her practice evolving moving forward.
“What I took away from it is how much I want to explore through my practice now, and where do I see my storytelling through art going,” she said.
Subsequently, Hurst successfully applied for an Arts ACT grant that will see her develop her contemporary jewellery skills, working toward a solo exhibition to open in 2021.
Having been based in Canberra for over 10 years, Hurst said it will be an honour to once again represent the ACT at the NATSIAA awards and is thankful for the experiences she has here to further her practice.
The NATSIAA exhibition, featuring Hurst’s work, will run from 8 August 2020 to 31 January 2021 at the Museum and Art Gallery of the Northern Territory, Darwin. Award winners will be announced 7 August.