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About the State Cultural Treasures Awards

The Western Australian State Living Treasures Awards, as they were previously known, were inaugurated in 1998 to honour senior Western Australian artists who have made a lifelong contribution to their art form and their community.

The concept of State Living Treasures originated in Japan in the post-World War II period, when the title became the highest honour attainable by a senior traditional artist. Since then, the Living Treasures Awards programs have been adopted worldwide to honour influential elders of the artistic community. The awards acknowledge the ability of recipients to engage, move, involve and entertain audiences and honour the skill, imagination and originality of the artist.

The Western Australian awards were again presented in 2004 and 2015 to honour and celebrate the diversity, talent and richness of a new group of individual artists. A distinguished panel selected recipients based on their exceptional level of artistic skill and dedication to developing their particular art form, their contribution in teaching and collaborating with other artists, as well as a demonstrated long- term involvement in the arts in Western Australia.

The 2022 State Cultural Treasures Awards have seen a new category of community impact being introduced,  acknowledging the impact community arts organisations have within their communities and on Western Australia as a whole.

Premier's message

The 2022 State Cultural Treasures Awards celebrate and honour senior Western Australian artists and organisations who have made outstanding lifelong contributions to their art form and community. The awards recognise the recipients’ skill, creativity, imagination and originality in their respective fields, with each of the recipients also having served as mentors by passing on their knowledge to the next generation of artists.

The list of award recipients for 2022 is testament to the cultural and geographical diversity of our vast state, and our recipients’ work and careers have provided a long-lasting legacy to the arts and cultural landscape within Western Australia. Each of this year’s recipients has inspired audiences and communities alike in sharing stories which profoundly reflect our Western Australian identity.

My congratulations go to each of the 2022 State Cultural Treasures Award recipients for the honour bestowed upon them tonight, along with my deepest gratitude and appreciation for their profound contribution to the Western Australian communities in which they have created, worked and lived.

The Hon. Mark McGowan MLA Premier of Western Australia

Minister's message

The State Cultural Treasures Awards were introduced in 1998 to honour outstanding senior Western Australian artists and have previously been awarded in 2004 and 2015 (then as State Living Treasures Awards) to a total of 38 Western Australian artists to date. This year, the 2022 State Cultural Treasures Awards are introducing a new category of  community impact, acknowledging individuals and organisations which have had a deep and profound impact on their respective communities.

Our recipients for 2022 reflect a diverse range of art forms, including visual arts, dance, design, music, theatre and film, writing and community impact, and recognise the extraordinary talent and breadth of our homegrown artists.

My sincere thanks go to all of those who have nominated individuals and organisations to be considered for this prestigious award, as well as to our esteemed panel members for their generous and considered decision- making in selecting our 2022 recipients.

It is evident through the nominations that we have received that Western Australia is home to some truly outstanding artists and artistic organisations. My heartfelt congratulations to all of the 2022 recipients and thank you to tonight’s guests for joining us in honouring our State Cultural Treasures’ outstanding artistic output and contribution to a vibrant, dynamic and inclusive Western Australian community.

The Hon. David Templeman MLA Minister for Culture and the Arts

2022 Awards Panel

The panel consisted of:

  • Margaret Seares AO (Chair)
  • Chrissie Parrott AO
  • Jeremy Smith
  • Belinda Cook
  • Terri-ann White
  • Barry McGuire

Past recipients


Faith Clayton, Stephanie Coleman, Robert Drewe,  Pippin Drysdale, Alan Griffiths, Joan London,  Dr Mary McLean, Noriko Yoshimoto, Chrissie Parrott AO,  Herbert Pinter, Nalda Searles, Lew Smith,  Miriam Stannage, Dr Richard Walley OAM, Dave Warner.


Alan Alder, Dr Lucette Aldous, Janangoo Butcher Cherel,  Jimmy Chi, Professor Jeffrey Howlett AM,  Tom (T.A.G.) Hungerford AM, Doris Pilkington Garimara,  Dr Carol Rudyard, Professor Roger Smalley,  Leonard ‘Jack’ Williams, Richard Woldendorp,  Fay Zwicky.


Madame Kira Bousloff, Madame Alice Carrad,  Peter Cowan, Jack Davis, Margaret Ford,  Vaughan Hanly, Elizabeth Jolley,  Robert Juniper, Queenie McKenzie,  Paul Sampi, Howard Taylor.

Distinguished Artists
(having passed away prior to the 1998 awards)

Joan Campbell,  Rover Thomas.

2022 Awards recipients

Kim Scott | Writing

A smiling Kim Scott looking at the camera.Kim Scott is a descendant of the Wirlomin Noongar people and grew up near Kinjarling/Albany. Some of his earliest memories are of camping on beaches, fishing with his family and eating fish – lots of fish. He studied English at Murdoch University and, in 1979, added a Diploma of Education to his achievements before working at Fremantle TAFE in the library, immersed in literature and guided by an unconventional mentor.

Later, while he was teaching in Kalumburu with his wife, Kim began researching his first novel, ‘True Country’. It was his second novel, however, ‘Benang: From the Heart’ that cemented his place as one of this country’s greatest writers. ‘Benang’ won the Western Australian Premier’s Literary Award and Kim went on to become the first Aboriginal author to win the Miles Franklin Literary Award. His novel ‘That Deadman Dance’ saw him awarded a second Miles Franklin Award as well as the prestigious South-East Asia and Pacific Commonwealth Writers’ Prize.

Kim is a gifted educator and through his work with the Wirlomin Noongar Language and Stories Project, has dedicated himself to reclaiming Noongar culture and language. In 2012, he was named the inaugural Western Australian of the Year. In 2020, he was inducted into the Western Australian Writers Hall of Fame. To date, Kim has written five novels and a children’s book, as well as poetry and short stories for a range of anthologies, and is a senior academic at Curtin University of Technology.

Photo by Jarrad Seng.

Helen Matthews | Music

A smiling
        Helen Matthews looking next to the camera As a shy child living in Guildford, Helen sought comfort and refuge in music both at home and in the school choir. Her first performance at the age of nine was singing ‘Heart of my Heart’ at the Willie Weeties show. She would never have dreamed that these humble beginnings would lead her to one day perform for Queen Elizabeth II, the Pope and audiences across Australia. 

Over her 50 years in music, Helen was at the helm of some of the most influential and innovative jazz projects and international festivals in Australia. In the early 1960s, the foundations of her career in jazz were set when she began singing with JT and the Jazzmen. By 1971 she was featuring in the National ABC TV Music series ‘With A Little Help From My Friends’ and performed continuously across the 1970s and 1980s, leading a number of successful jazz groups including the Helen Matthews Quartet, Nova Dreams, A Slight Diversion and The Jazz Divas. She proudly served the Perth Jazz Society for 17 years, with a deep commitment to progressing the jazz community in Western Australia, and has been a fierce advocate, mentor and teacher for many artists, notably paving the way for and championing female artists. Her creations brought together artists of all genres including dancers, poets and actors. Helen presented a regular local jazz program on RTRFM and in 2015 was inducted into the WAM Hall of Fame. An immensely adored and respected artist, Helen’s career and legacy has undoubtedly transformed the way we listen to jazz and encouraged many Western Australian musicians to find their own unique voice, reinforcing her role as WA’s First Lady of Jazz.

Photo supplied by the Matthews Family.

Helicopter Tjungurrayi | Visual Arts

A smiling Helicopter Tjungurrayi wearing a hat standing in the outback. Helicopter Tjungurrayi is a Kukatja, Wangkajungka and Manyjiljarra man born with blackhead snake Dreaming in the late 1940s at Nyakin, south of Jupiter Well. He is an artist, singer, Maparn (healer) and senior Lawman.

Helicopter’s first interaction with white people took place in 1957 when he was around 10 years old. A mining helicopter, initially mistaken for a giant dragonfly, landed nearby when Helicopter had fallen ill after mistaking motor oil for treesap. The crew offered to take him and his Aunty in the helicopter to Balgo for treatment and after a few tense moments, the crew and Helicopter’s family worked out how to communicate with one another. He saw his country from the air and his world changed forever.

Once recovered, Helicopter was put to work on the mission, drilling bores, cutting timber and collecting supplies. He married Lucy Napanangka Yukenbarri and together they raised eight children.

Helicopter painted with his wife for many years but it was not until 1994 that his distinctive linear style evolved into a remarkable solo career, making him the cultural and economic heart of his large family. Helicopter paints his country around Puntutjarrpa (Jupiter Well), deep in the Great Sandy Desert, and has twice been a finalist for the National Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Art Awards.

He has also featured in numerous solo shows and more than 100 Warlayirti group exhibitions and has been a global ambassador for his culture and country, travelling to London, Amsterdam and Tokyo.

His work has appeared in many international collections including in Madrid, Paris, Rotterdam, Vancouver, as a mosaic in Utrecht and on an Audi in Tokyo as part of the Motika project. Helicopter has mentored many young artists with his gentle hand and deep cultural knowledge. He is a source of great pride for the Balgo mob and all those fortunate enough to have met him.

Photo by Paul Bell.

Nannup Music Festival | Community Impact — Organisation

Nannup Music Festival Staff smiling at the camera close to a wooden bridge in the bush.

The Nannup Music Festival was born in the idyllic bushland surrounds of Nannup, a small timber town on the banks of the Blackwood River. It sprang from humble beginnings and the hearts of a small group of folk music lovers driven to share and celebrate their love of music and community. The Nannup Music Club started in the front room of Bernie and Rubela Wilborn’s home ‘Dry Brook’. The first Nannup Music Festival was held in the Easter of 1990 and was timed to coincide with centenary celebrations commemorating the 1890 establishment of Nannup as a town.

The Festival had the support of the whole town from its very beginnings, co-opting local volunteers with an immense amount of passion and community spirit. The Festival has gone from strength to strength since, produced by a passionate, dedicated team made up of a committee and staff from the non-profit Nannup Music Club Inc. The Festival has consistently proven to be one of the most welcoming and rewarding weekends on Western Australia’s music calendar, highlighting the best in new, emerging and Indigenous music along with workshops and panels, poetry, camping, food and artisan markets. As a staple in the Western Australian music landscape, it has shone a focus on emerging artists such as Gurrumul, Passenger and Stella Donnelly, showcasing their innate talent and creativity. The community-driven festival has grown into a four-day event that deeply enriches the lives of all those who contribute and attend annually and is an iconic asset to our State’s cultural fabric.

Photo by Jarrad Seng.

Chris Hill | Design

Chris Hill sitting down looking at the camera with many props behind him in his studio Walking through Chris Hill’s workshop is like stepping into an imaginarium. It is filled with beautiful, oversized paper boats, twisted hand-made trees and dinosaurs joined together with PVC pipe.

As a young man, Chris remembers his mum taking him to art shows, sparking his imagination and setting him on a course he has loved for decades. In 1983, Chris graduated from Curtin University with a BA in Fine Arts (Painting and Printmaking), but it was not  until the 1990s that Chris found his true passion − not behind the scenes but making them. Over the years he has honed his craft and expanded his horizons to become the go-to man in the Kimberley for props and sets. He has created work for Theatre Kimberley, Goolarri Media, Marrugeku Dance, Magabala Books, Shinju Matsuri Festival, Perth Festival and Barking Gecko Theatre. He has also built sets for ‘Bran Nue Dae’, ‘Jandamarra’s War’ and ‘The Circuit’.

Chris’ generosity has extended to sharing his wealth of knowledge to inspire the next generation of behind-the-scenes makers, mentoring them in his own unique way. Throughout Chris’ career, he has continued to practice and pass down his father’s advice  to ‘never cut rope’, wasting as little as possible, using ingenuity, adaptation and recycling and turning imagination into a wild and beautiful backdrop.

In 2020, Chris Hill and his partner Gwen Knox were appointed patrons of the 50th Anniversary Shinju Matsuri Festival in recognition of their enormous contribution to the arts over three decades.

Photo by Paul Bell.

Terri Charlesworth OAM | Dance

Terri Charlesworth OAM smiling at the camera At just six years of age, Terri Charlesworth knew she wanted to be a dancer. Little did she know that when the Second World War broke out, Madame Kira Bousloff of the Ballet Russes, one of the world’s greatest dance companies, would become stranded in Australia and, through a twist of fate, become her teacher. In 1952, Madame Bousloff invited Terri to join the West Australian Ballet company as one of its inaugural dancers. Terri went on to become its principal ballerina and, later, Assistant Director. She then established her own school of ballet and co-founded and directed the Western Australian Graduate College of Dance. She established a program, which later moved to Perth Modern High School, that allowed students to complete high school as well as study dance full-time.

Terri travelled the world dancing and teaching in Russia, England, Italy, Japan and China, and spent three years in Monaco at the Princess Grace Academy as a tutor and choreographer, where she created a work for Prince Rainier. Her extensive networks have brought some of the finest ballet teachers to Western Australia to ensure local dancers are able to access world-class training. Her dedication and deep love of her craft has secured a bright future for many generations of Western Australian dancers to come.

Photo by Jarrad Seng.

Ernie Dingo AM | Theatre and Film

Ernie Dingo looking at the camera standing in a park under a treeYamatji man, Ernie Dingo, is an Australian icon. Born on Bullardoo Station, he started playing basketball at age 10 and, showing promise, pursued the sport to eventually join the Perth Wildcats. In 1978, he and fellow team member Richard Walley formed the Middar Dance Group, an organisation devoted to promoting Aboriginal dance and culture. Together they performed the very first official Welcome to Country. Ernie retired from basketball shortly after to pursue a career in the performing arts.

His unwavering dedication to ensuring positive representation of Aboriginal people in film and television led to a number of memorable roles. In 1987 he starred in ‘The Fringe Dwellers’ and the following year in blockbuster ‘Crocodile Dundee 2’, as well as the comedy series ‘Fast Forward’. He also starred in ‘Blackfellas’, ‘Dead Heart’ and, possibly his most loved role, as Uncle Tadpole in ‘Bran Nue Dae’. An actor, television host, reporter and comedian, Ernie has appeared in no less than 18 movies and five documentaries, has written for film and television and appeared in more than 20 series, including hosting ‘The Great Outdoors’ for 16 years as well as his own show, ‘Going Places’. He is a National Living Treasure, a member of the Order of Australia, has been voted NAIDOC’s Aboriginal of the Year and received a Deadly Award for Outstanding Contribution to Film and Television. His tireless dedication to his craft and culture has changed the media landscape in Australia and secured pathways for generations of Aboriginal comedians, actors and writers.

Photo by Jarrad Seng.

Wayne Jowandi Barker | Community Impact — Individual

A smiling man wearing glasses looking at an interviewer Jabbir Jabirr and Djugan Kimberley Lawman, Wayne Jowandi Barker has seen many changes in his beloved home of Broome. Born in 1957 in the small laid-back town, he travelled as a young man but returned home to dedicate his professional life to contributing to the cultural landscape of his community.

Wayne was one of the inaugural Aboriginal interns at the Australian Institute of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Studies (AIATSIS) in Canberra, undertaking training in ethnomusicology and ethnographic film. He has worked as an ABC radio broadcaster and performed  in the iconic Gunada Band. An internationally awarded filmmaker, Wayne has combined his extraordinary talent with his skills as an ethnographer, curator and events manager to transform cultural performances and heighten the impact of the Kimberley Aboriginal Law and Culture Centre (KALACC). He has worked tirelessly with KALACC for a decade and is a member of the First Nations Arts and Culture Strategy Panel with the Australia Council for the Arts. He has contributed to the National Indigenous Arts and Cultural Authority and, as well as being a father of four, Wayne is a highly respected member of the Kimberley artistic community. His work will resonate for many generations to come.

Photo by Paul Bell.

About the photographers and filmmakers

Jarrad Seng
(Perth and South West)

Jarrad is an Australian-based photographer, filmmaker, creative director and podcast host. Jarrad has established himself as one of Australia’s most in-demand creative operators, working on projects as diverse as international tours, tourism campaigns, art installations, short films and charity projects at home and abroad.

Paul Bell — Feral Films

Originally from the South West of WA, Paul moved to Broome in 1996. For more than 20 years, Paul Bell has worked in the film and television industry producing a wide range of content for national and international audiences, filming in locations ranging from the remote bush of Australia to the streets of Tokyo and the wilderness of Antarctica.

Page reviewed 11 September 2023