First Indigenous Artist to Win Breaking Ground Announced

Ngarrindjeri artist Nellie Rankine, from Murray Bridge, is Country Arts SA’s 2019 Breaking Ground Visual Arts Professional Development award winner – the award’s first Indigenous winner – announced at the SALA VIP launch event held on Friday, 6th July in Adelaide.

The winner receives $10,000 to develop a body of work for a solo exhibition to be held in conjunction with the following year’s SALA Festival. They receive an additional $5,000 towards a mentorship with an established artist of their choosing. The exhibition of Nellie Rankine’s new work will be held during the 2019 SALA Festival, at the Light Square Gallery, TAFE SA.

Nellie’s interest in the arts began at aged 15 when she illustrated her local newsletter, Nungas Club. Since then she has worked on book illustrations, mosaics, carving and murals in both commissions and community art projects. In her application, Nellie said her work draws directly from her culture, which includes the creation stories passed down by her Grandfather that she would like to share through the medium of printmaking.

“I have always been interested in printmaking and think the patterns I use would work well as block prints. There are a lot of processes, techniques and materials I could try in printmaking and exhibit the results,” wrote Nellie in her application.

“Recently, my cousin gave me a tape of my Grandfather Hendle Rankine telling stories of the old ways, of traditional culture and the country where he grew up. These stories are really important to me and I would like to develop an exhibition that responds to this recording using the new print-making techniques I’ll be learning. I’d like to create some large works on fabric that draw from his words and smaller works that explore a range of print making techniques.”

Steve Saffell, Chief Executive Officer of Country Arts SA said Nellie’s application stood out and winning the award would help advance her career.

“A big congratulations to Nellie for winning this coveted award. We had 12 strong applications this year but the panel agreed that her application was well articulated; she had a clear vision and was able to demonstrate exactly why now is the right time for her to take on this opportunity. We look forward to seeing the new direction this will take her career and the work she will produce under the mentorship of print-maker and Adelaide College of the Arts lecturer Lorelei Medcalf,” Mr Saffell said.

“The Breaking Ground award is really important – not just because it is for regional artists but it offers an artist the freedom to create work to push and develop their practice and work towards a really ambitious exhibition during SALA Festival 2019. I am really looking forward to seeing Nellie’s exhibition next year,” said Penny Griggs, CEO of SALA Festival.

Launched in 2012, the Breaking Ground Visual Arts Professional Development Award provides a visual artist from Regional South Australia with a unique opportunity to develop their skills and broaden their professional experience.