Feature storyArts and culture

Actor David Gulpilil wins 2013 Red Ochre Award

Actor David Gulpilil has won this year’s Red Ochre Award, Australia’s highest peer-assessed award for an Indigenous artist.

The $50,000 prize was presented at the Australia Council’s 6th National Indigenous Art Awards at the Sydney Opera House earlier this week.

South Australian photographer Rhonda Dick received the $20,000 Dreaming Award, for a young and emerging Indigenous artist. And $45,000 fellowships were awarded to visual artist Jennifer Kemarre Martiniello, and writer, activist and musician Richard Frankland.

“These awards and fellowships are a significant recognition of the unique and important work of each of the recipients,” said Lee-Ann Buckskin, Chair of the Australia Council’s Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Arts Board.

“The Red Ochre Award for David Gulpilil is wonderful acknowledgement from his peers of David’s continual efforts to bring the experiences and wishes of his people to national and international attention.

“He is unquestionably one of the most respected Australian actors on the international film stage and a major contributor to the voice of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islanders”.

David Gulpilil was first cast in the 1971 film Walkabout because of his talents as a dancer. He was just 15 and had never acted before.

Since then he has appeared in films that have been milestones in Australian cinema, including Storm Boy, Mad Dog Morgan, The Last Wave, Crocodile Dundee, Two Hands, Rabbit Proof Fence, The Tracker, Ten Canoes and Australia.

David’s latest completed film, Satellite Boy, directed by Aboriginal director Catriona McKenzie, is set in Western Australia and will open in Australian cinemas on June 20.

“Beyond his work on screen, David’s contribution to our people is astounding,” Lee-Ann said.

“He has been, and continues to be, an inspiration to many people, opening doorways and creating career pathways where there were previously none.”

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The National Indigenous Arts Awards are presented by the Australia Council’s Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Arts Board to outstanding Indigenous artists as nominated and selected by their peers. 

The awards celebrate the vibrancy and diversity of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander arts and culture and the contribution of Indigenous artists at national and international levels.