Banjima woman May Byrne, who lives on the outskirts of Karijini National Park, has had her art chosen to go on permanent display in the WA State Art Collection.
Colours of our Country is an annual exhibition hosted by Rio Tinto. The 2018 collection includes more than 270 paintings and artefacts from 40 Pilbara-based Aboriginal artists.
May’s work, Bush Tucker Seeds, was selected by the Art Gallery of WA, with Rio Tinto buying the piece for $1500 and donating it to the gallery.
“Winning a prize like this, and having my art in the State Art Collection, gives me a name and the chance to move up in the art world,” she said.
May was told her piece was selected as it was a quiet, humble painting that spoke differently from the other works in the show.
“They told me I was able to demonstrate a way of mark-making that is both intuitive and uniquely my own,” she said. This year’s exhibit showcased the work of independent artists from Roebourne and Tom Price as well as work from the Yinjaa-Barni Art Centre, and Roebourne Cheeditha and Juluwarlu art groups.
Rio Tinto chief executive Chris Salisbury said Colours of our Country was an important part of Rio Tinto’s commitment to the WA community.
“The exhibition helps bring the spirit of the Pilbara to Perth each year, providing a valuable opportunity to deepen our cultural awareness through the works of these talented Indigenous artists.”
Since its inception, more than 2200 artworks have been sold through the display, generating more than $2.3 million in direct proceeds for the artists, their art groups and communities.