2019 Telstra National Aboriginal Torres Strait Islander Art Awards | Dunsborough artist Christopher Pease

Dunsborough artist Christopher Pease is in the running for the prestigious 2019 Telstra National Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Art Awards.
Dunsborough artist Christopher Pease is in the running for the prestigious 2019 Telstra National Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Art Awards.

Dunsborough artist Christopher Pease has been selected as one of the finalists in the 2019 Telstra National Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Art Awards.

The awards feature 68 Indigenous artists from regional and urban areas across Australia, with the selection of finalists being made from 280 entries.

Pease's artwork Kartwarra, which has been nominated, was the last of six pieces of work that took four years to complete.

The series were inspired by a sketch of King George Sound in Albany and the slaying of Noongar tribesman Yagan, created in the 1820's.

The sketch was made by Lieutenant Robert Dale, the man who took the severed head of Yagan to the UK after the Noongar leader was shot by colonists.

When Lieutenant Dale was in the UK he had the sketches turned into a 3 metre by 1.5m panorama print, he would hold dinner parties with Yagan's head on display and handout the prints to guests.

Christopher Pease, Kartwarra, 2019, oil and Balga resin on canvas, 36th Telstra NATSIAA. Courtesy of the artist and Gallerysmith.

Christopher Pease, Kartwarra, 2019, oil and Balga resin on canvas, 36th Telstra NATSIAA. Courtesy of the artist and Gallerysmith.

"The sketch has a dark history behind it, but the ironic thing is in the panorama there are all these positive relationships between the British soldiers and the Menang people," he said.

"At the same time there is a lot of insight into how the Menang people lived, their hunting practices were in there, it showed them smoking using banksia nuts and smoking trees for possums.

"In the background there are several fires, which showed the prescribed burning which Menage people did at the time, there were a lot of things in there which are quite accurate.

"I did a whole series of work based on that, the last exhibition I did in Melbourne was based entirely on that print, it is a huge print and there is a lot of content in it.

"It is something I wanted to paint about for a long time but up until recently I had not really been able to tackle it because it is such a big undertaking."

Pease's artwork is featured in galleries all around Australia including the Gallery of WA, the National Gallery of Victoria, the National Gallery of Australia, the Queensland State Gallery and the Robert Holmes A Court art collection. He won the painters prize at the Telstra NATSIAA in 2006.

"It is such a privilege, having my work featured in these art galleries, it was something I never planned to happen I just wanted to paint, it just took off out of my control," he said.

"I just like doing the work, the tricky part is to keep being inspired. I have taken a bit of a break from this last batch and now I need to start on something new."

When Pease isn't creating masterpieces he is busy managing the cafe at the Margaret River Chocolate Company.

"I was always a drawer and hardly painted, I have been painting since 1999, I was a prolific drawer and would draw lots of fantasy things like dungeons and dragons when I was a child.

"It is hard to be a full time artist, because it is so sporadic you cannot always count on income, it is up and down."

The winners of the 36th Telstra NATSIAA will be announced at an awards ceremony at the Museum and Art Gallery of the Northern Territory on Friday August 9, 2019.