NAIDOC winner urges artists to take part, be proud to the Max

Artist Daren Dunn has painted for the likes of Prince William, Tiger Woods, David Beckham and NRL superstars Greg Inglis and Johnathon Thurston.

Fresh from receiving the 2015 NAIDOC Artist of the Year award, Daren says he is excited to share his expertise with other Indigenous artists as a judge for the 2016 MAX National Indigenous Art Competition.

“To be able to support and connect young artists with things like this, it’s deadly. I’m proud to see that there are events like this to give Indigenous Artists a platform to grow from,” the Gamilaroi artist said. “I’ve been through it, and the small stepping stones given to artists, like what MAX is doing, become big stepping stones.”

Daren plans to share his knowledge and experience with competition finalists at the MAX Indigenous Art Exhibition in July, saying his passion for art is rivalled only by his passion to educate budding artists.

“This competition is an opportunity. I can teach the artists that even though it is a competition, it’s not about winning,” he said. “Just because you don’t win it, doesn’t mean you’re not successful. Be proud of your work, your culture. You’re already a winner. And learn as much as you can.”

The competition is open to Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander artists over the age of 18, and Daren says he wants to encourage as many young artists as he can to submit their work.

“I’ve been doing this for a long time, but I don’t do it for the awards. You do it for the love of it,” he said. “I’ve been in those competitions before and I used to get really down when I didn’t win. That’s why I want to be involved in this one, to be able to tell artists that it’s not about winning, you’ve done something great by sharing your culture. It’s about getting your work out there and celebrating Indigenous Culture.”

MAX Employment Managing Director Deborah Homewood says the competition gives Indigenous Australia artists a platform to share their culture and heritage with others. “There is a group exhibition for 20 finalists in July at NSW Parliament House,” said Ms Homewood. “We’re looking forward to showcasing the amazing work that comes out of the competition.”

2015 Major Prize winner Belynda Waugh and MAX National Indigenous Program and Engagement Manager Courtney Morgan will join Daren on the judging panel in 2016, tasked with the job of selecting 20 finalists for the six-week exhibition.

Ms Waugh said that “being on the panel of judges for the 2016 competition is exciting. I’m really looking forward to seeing what stories artists choose to tell through their submissions this year.”

Submissions for the 2016 MAX National Indigenous Competition are open now until April 25.

For more information or to submit your work, visit

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