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We are pleased to announce the launch of the 2020 King & Wood Mallesons Contemporary First Nations Art Award. In its second season, the Award is a biennial competition established by KWM to promote and encourage the highest standard of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander art practice in Australia. The inaugural award was held in NSW in 2018.

The exhibition will be held in Victoria in 2021. Opening from 5 - 28 July at Melbourne not-for-profit theatre and gallery fortyfivedownstairs, the exhibition will showcase and celebrate the outstanding contribution of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander (First Nations) artists to Australian culture.

As a result of the far-reaching impact of COVID-19 this year, we have re-allocated the prize pool to provide opportunity for more winners. In addition to the King & Wood Mallesons Contemporary First Nations Art Award of $20,000 and the VIC Local Artist Award of $5,000, there will be three additional Highly Commended Awards, valued at $2,000 each, and a People’s Choice Award valued at $1,000. Each prize is non-acquisitive. 

The firm is honoured to collaborate once again with Exhibition Patron, highly accomplished curator, writer, artist and activist Djon Mundine OAM. Djon will be joined by an expert judging panel which includes renowned art curators Myles Russell-Cook, Shonae Hobson and Stacie Piper. The judges expressly remind artists to send a good quality high resolution image of the artwork, or proof of completed digital work to ensure it is accurately judged for inclusion in the Exhibition.

Shortlisted artworks, as selected by the judging panel, will be on display from 6 July – 28 July 2021 at fortyfivedownstairs, in Melbourne’s Flinders Lane. King & Wood Mallesons will be responsible for the organisation of and costs for transport and insurance of the finalists’ eligible artwork from regional depots to fortyfivedownstairs, as detailed in the Expression of Interest document.

We are delighted to once again curate this Exhibition, particularly as the world and our communities experience the effects of COVID-19. The Exhibition is one of the key ways in which King & Wood Mallesons seeks to demonstrate its unwavering ambition to work together to achieve meaningful reconciliation and empowerment, and to create powerful and high-impact opportunities for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples, community-controlled organisations and communities.

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Title artworks by 2020 King & Wood Mallesons finalists:

Michelle Woody, ‘Ngiya Murrakupupuni’ 

Reggie Uluru, 'Wati Ngintaka - Perentie Lizard Man'

Marina Pumani Brown, 'Tjukurpa'

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