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Iconic craft work wins the 2023 Gab Titui Indigenous Art Award

Wagadagam man and first-time entrant, Mr Thomas Pedro has been named winner of the 2023 Gab Titui Indigenous Art Award at the celebrations held on 2 November at the Gab Titui Cultural Centre, Thursday Island.

Mr Pedro’s winning entry Ngagalaig was selected from 52 works by First Nations artists in the Torres Strait and Northern Peninsula Area regions, by first-time judge, Ms Avril Quaill, Principal, Community Engagement, First Nations Queensland Museum Network.

Torres Strait Regional Authority (TSRA) Chairperson Napau Pedro Stephen AM congratulated Mr Pedro on his achievement and praised the entry for its significance to the region.

“The Torres Strait Headdress unites us, it is the symbol on our flag, and it represents us,” Mr Stephen said.

“To see the Headdress honoured in Mr Pedro’s piece is astonishing and reminds us, that as a people, we are one.

“Mr Pedro has been a contributing Gab Titui artist, and we are thrilled to see his work recognised as the 2023 Gab Titui Indigenous Art Award winner.”

In her judge’s comments, Ms Quaill described Mr Pedro’s Ngagaliag as ‘iconic’ and emphasised the complexity of the piece.

“Made in the form of a traditional Dhoeri headdress – the artist creates a form that is non-utilitarian – it is not meant to be worn,” Ms Quaill said.

“Thomas Pedro’s ‘Ngagalaig’ evokes all – about choreography, of dancers in movement, flight, white capped waves and white fish sustenance, oceans, and seas. It is a standout work – iconic in its veneration of the eagle.”

In accepting the award, Mr Pedro said he was grateful for the recognition and the opportunity to showcase his work.

“My piece was inspired by an experience back home, in Wug village, where I stood on the wharf and watched an eagle fly from its nest and dive into the water, retrieving a fish,” Mr Pedro said.

“As I watched, I could envisage that eagle as a Headdress.

“I am so stoked about winning the 2023 Gab Titui Indigenous Art Award.

“I want to big eso the Gab Titui Cultural Centre and the Torres Strait Regional Authority for the opportunity to enter the awards,” he said.

Distinguished artist Mr Harry Nona was awarded the runner-up prize for his canvas Four Winds of Zenadth Kes, described by Ms Quaill as a ‘beautiful and profound work’.

“This monumental work on canvas conveys the reverence and respect of nature’s forces and detailed knowledge of cultural and secular life of Torres Strait Islander peoples,” Ms Quaill said.

“Each of the four winds are depicted and within each encyclopaedic knowledge is conveyed.”

Renowned Italgal and Kaurareg Elder Ms Rosaline Tomsana took home the inaugural Best Contemporary Jewellery category prize with her gorgeous work Sugu Dhmurr; homage to traditional octopus hunting.

2023 Gab Titui Indigenous Art Award Winner + Category Winners


Ngagalaig – Thomas Pedro


Four Winds of Zenadth Kes – Harry Nona

Best 2D Work

Garthaw Mineral – Matilda Nona

Best 3D Work

Kazi Warul Uomaraik – James Ahmat Snr

Best Craft Work

Jelly Fish Basket – Paula Savage

Best Contemporary Jewellery Work

Sugu Dhmurr – Rosaline Tomsana

Best Secondary Student Work

Life – Rodney Mabo

National Museum of Australia History Through Art Award

Old T.I My Beautiful Home – Nola Ward Page

National Museum of Australia History Through Art Award – Secondary Student Work

The Fallen – Mawai Whap

The 2023 Gab Titui Indigenous Art Award is on display at the Gab Titui Cultural Centre until 16 December 2023. Exhibition catalogues are available for purchase through the Centre’s Gallery Shop, with merchandise available in store and online at

  • Iconic craft work wins the 2023 Gab Titui Indigenous Art Award
  • Gab Titui Indigenous Art Award
  • Iconic craft work wins the 2023 Gab Titui Indigenous Art Award

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