Kestin Indigenous Illustrator Award

Kestin Award winners

Kestin Indigenous Illustrator Award: Charmaine Ledden-Lewis (2019 winner) with Magabala Chairperson, Edie Wright, Johnny Warrkatja Malibirr (2017 winner), Editor, Margaret Whiskin and Gapuwiyak Arts Centre Manager, Trevor van Weeren in Sydney

The Kestin Indigenous Illustrator Award is a national biennial award that identifies new talent in the art of children’s picture book illustration.

Awarded to an Indigenous artist or emerging illustrator, the winner receives $10,000, a professional mentorship and the opportunity to illustrate a children’s picture book by a renowned Indigenous author.

The award is generously supported by the Kestin Family Foundation.

History of the Kestin Indigenous Illustrator Award

The Kestin Family Foundation’s representative, Harry Kestin, first discovered the work of Magabala Books when he visited our Broome bookshop in 2008. “I was blown away by the quality of their children’s books and commitment to career development of Indigenous illustrators and authors," he said. "We are excited by the potential to expand creative career options for Indigenous artists. It brings together our family’s interest in fine art, storytelling and Indigenous empowerment.”

Magabala Publisher and Award judge, Rachel Bin Salleh, said the award seeks to address industry demand for Indigenous illustrators. “The award will support emerging illustrators to develop their craft, and encourage Indigenous artists who haven’t illustrated before”, she said.

Ann James, Kestin Illustrator Award judge and co-director of Books Illustrated, confirmed the significance of this opportunity: “For years I have hoped that we can build the pool of Indigenous illustrators available to the publishing industry. I’m so excited about this award because I’m aware of how strong fine art and all forms of arts practice are in Indigenous communities. I hope that Indigenous visual artists will recognise that illustration is a potential career path.

2019 Winner - Charmaine Ledden-Lewis

The 2019 Kestin Indigenous Illustrator Award was won by Charmaine Ledden-Lewis, a Bundjalung freelance artist and mother of two boys from Blackhealth, NSW.

2017 Winner - Johnny Warrkatja Malibirr

The inaugural Kestin Indigenous Illustrator Award was won by Gapuwiyak artist Johnny Warrkatja Malibirr in 2017. Teamed with renowned author and illustrator Sally Morgan, Johnny worked with Magabala Books to bring his fine-art aesthetic, traditional motifs and quirky sense of humour to Little Bird’s Day, which was launched on 26th March 2019 at the CBCA NSW AAA Professional Development Conference in Sydney.