Winner 2013 Parliament Award

Winner 2013 Parliament Award

Flag of grief wins state prize×01.jpg

A SALVAGED Australian flag embroidered with crosses of “grief” has won the $40,000 Parliament of NSW Aboriginal Art Prize.

Karla Dickens’s work January 26, Day of Mourning, pictured, was made from an Australian flag she found at the rubbish tip, and was selected from works by 35 finalists.

“The majority of Australia celebrates 26 January by wrapping themselves in the red, white and blue flag, having barbecues and feeling proud to be young and free,” says the 46-year-old artist. “I cringe, stay close to dear friends, do all I can not to leave the house and respectfully hold my grief: the grief for the old; grief for the continuous denial; grief for the disrespect; grief for the lack of acknowledgement; and the poor choice of the day to celebrate.

“I went about hand-sewing my grief, with one cross after another. Unfortunately, it’s only a small gesture to reflect the true loss,” Dickens says.

Don Harwin, president of the Legislative Council, thanked the judges – Matt Poll, Vernon Ah Kee and Judith Watson – at a ceremony at the NSW parliament last night.

“Although the prize is a partnership between many dedicated organisations, the winner of the prize is ultimately determined by an independent panel of judges, who we place faith in to select the finalists and winner by virtue of their expertise in Aboriginal arts.”


The winner of the University of NSW College of Fine Arts Indigenous Professional Development Award was also announced: Warwick Keen, for his work Colour Barcode (scan me I may be Aboriginal). The award includes a residency at COFA, a solo exhibition, and up to $500 worth of expenses.

All the artworks are on display at the NSW parliament on Macquarie Street, Sydney, until October 31.