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Aboriginal Art News

Aboriginal Art News is a free news resource to promote and encourage education of Australian Aboriginal art.

Submitted: Apr 10, 2010 - 7:10 PM
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  • LESS THAN 24 HOURS TO GO! by on Fri, 31 Jul 2015 12:59:51 +1000:
    For $500 or more you could earn yourself an original water-colour from Hermannsberg and help to complete a documentary film about that school of painting, about the life of its founder, Albert Namatjira, and about joys and tensions of a non-Indigenous theatre-maker and an Aboriginal actor creating a play featuring Albert and his white mentor, Rex Battarbee.

    Long-time Ngurratjuta Many Hands Art Centre collaborator, the Big hART theatre company have been working with the Namatjira family and artist communities for the past 6 years. Together they wrote a theatre show which has toured Australia twice and been seen by 50,000 people. It also went to London and the cast and accompanying artists were invited to Buckingham Palace to meet the Queen. For, alongside each theatre performance was a partnering exhibition of contemporary watercolours by Namatjira descendants. The widespread coverage of the theatre show was fantastic exposure for the artists and art centre - a core goal of the trip to London.

    Throughout Big hART’s work with the artists, a documentary crew has been capturing pivotal moments of the project, working with the Namatjira family and Hermannsburg communities. We are proud to have been a supporting partner throughout the Project and we are asking for our friends and followers to consider making a pledge to a crowdfunding campaign. The funds will enable the completion of the documentary which will raise the profile of the art centre and work towards sustainability for the Hermannsburg art movement in the future. As part of the campaign you can get a beautiful original artwork by Lenie Namatjira, Gloria Pannka, Ivy Pareroultja, Mervyn Rubuntja or Peter Tjutjatja Taylor as a reward. A great way to lend your support in two ways at once!  

    Help Big hART rally support for Ngurratjuta Many Hands artists – get behind the Namatjira Documentary crowdfunding campaign. Just 23 hours to go as I write for the campaign to meet its target.
  • The Mural Project by on Wed, 29 Jul 2015 14:59:44 +1000:
    Zhou Xiaoping is a Melbourne-based artist who learnt the technique of traditional brush painting under the tutelage of a great master while growing up in the Anhui province of China. He arrived in Australia in 1988, and staged an exhibition in Melbourne. A month later he travelled to Alice Springs where he met Aboriginal people for the first time.

    In early 1990, he travelled to the Kimberley in Western Australia, and it was in Broome that he met and became friends with Aboriginal artist, Jimmy Pike, who later took Xiaoping to his Country in the Fitzroy Crossing region.

    The artists began collaborating together, and by 1996 had sufficient works to hold a joint exhibition in China, in Xiaoping's home town. It was a time when China knew little about Australian Aboriginal arts and culture, and Jimmy Pike was the first Australian Aboriginal artist to have exhibited there. But by 1999, when they held their second exhibition at the National Gallery of China in Beijing, interest had built, paving the way for other Aboriginal artists and groups.

    Xiaoping's next collaboration was with the late Johnny Bulunbulun (who he had known since 1989), and made famous as the subject of an award-winning documentary called, [i]Ochre and Ink[/i]
    (2012), which followed the artists over several years as they worked toward what was to become the [i]Trepang[/i]

    And it's this documentary (which aired on the ABC last weekend) that shows us just how the artists worked together: Using a technique which has produced works of amazingly beautiful textures and colours, the Aboriginal artist applied ochres alongside Xiaoping's Chinese inks on rice paper, laid out on the floor and later fixed to canvas.

    The [i]Trepang, China & the story of Macassan – Aboriginal Trade[/i]
    exhibition was first shown at the Capital Museum in China, and friend and supporter of Xiaoping's, Marcia Langton AM, was there to open it.

    "Marcia Langton is a great person and we are great friends, I am honoured to work with her," says Xiaoping, reflecting on the support she has given him and also his collaborations, which some art centre managers have openly opposed.

    "People have different opinions, but sometimes people can over-care and make decisions for others. Johnny, Jimmy and I were friends, and as artists we respected and learnt from each other - we weren't playing politics, we just wanted to work together - so why do some people want to put pressure on Johnny to do what they want him to do?"

    nevertheless enjoyed success, and later travelled to the Melbourne Museum in Australia, as well as the Australian Embassy in Paris, where Zhou was invited to repeat the exhibition last year (2014).

    And now another collaboration is about to take place - in the form of large-scale murals - within the Mutitjulu community, who live in the shadow of Uluru in Central Australia.

    Called the [i]Muti Mural Project[/i]
    , Xiaoping has been invited to work alongside local artists and community members to beautify four buildings, the wall of the primary school (one side will feature Xiaoping's work, the local children will create a mural work on the other), and a large community building and a swimming pool wall on which Xiaoping will collaborate with local artists. The roof of the Adult Education Centre will also be covered in murals, first painted onto panels.

    The aim is to showcase the talents of Mutitjulu community and to create a bridge between cultures, and to be a platform for other creative collaborations. Once complete there are plans to open parts of the community to small groups of tourists (a permit is required at present).

    Work on the [i]Muti Mural Project[/i]
    will span a year and is being approached in stages - starting from next week.

    It's something Xiaoping is enthusiastic about, "It's a great opportunity for me, I feel honoured to have been invited," he says.

    Present next week too will be the producers of [i]Ochre and Ink[/i]
    who have expressed an interest in filming this project, and are currently awaiting funding to begin.

    If you are interested and would like to be involved, the [i]Muti Mural Project[/i]
    is seeking Sponsors, so get in touch with Brian James on 0410 414 770 (Brian is a coordinator of the project, along with Diamond Rozakeas and Anangu Jobs).

    To contact Zhou Xiaoping or to see more of his works please visit his [url=]website[/url]
  • The Wonderful World of Wayne Quilliam by on Thu, 23 Jul 2015 15:44:42 +1000:
    Wayne Quilliam is described as one of Australia’s pre-eminent Indigenous photographic artists, curators and cultural advisors working on the international scene. But to be a little more specific, he has won a Walkley Award, been named a NAIDOC Artist of the Year and has also won the Human Rights Media Award for his exhibition, [i]The Apology[/i]
    . And he has also been nominated as a Master of Photography by National Geographic.

    Just recently he returned from Geneva where his solo exhibition, [i]Her Image, Her Voice, Her Story[/i]
    , was launched at the new United Nations building. This exhibition, which showcased the real-life achievements, experiences and challenges faced by Australian Indigenous women, was interactive so audiences were able to view the beautiful images and connect to interviews to hear the personal stories of those women – told in their own words.

    Closer to home, Wayne Quilliam's photographic work was recently featured at Federation Square; in the Atrium it appeared in the form of 3 metre high banners, celebrating the role of Indigenous people in the public sector, there was also an exhibition of his works on the same theme. And his photographs also formed part of the Gertrude St Projection Festival, and were projected onto a city building elsewhere in Melbourne too.

    But if you haven't had the chance to see his works in person as yet, head along to Kingston Arts in Melbourne where his photographs on the 2015 NAIDOC theme, [i]We all Stand on Sacred Ground: Learn, Respect and Celebrate[/i]
    , are still on show. Hurry though, this exhibition closes soon, on Tuesday, 4 August.

    The [url=]Kingston Arts Centre [/url]
    is located at 979-985 Nepean Hwy, Moorabbin.
  • BLAK WIT IN THE WEST by on Tue, 21 Jul 2015 12:29:09 +1000:
    The differences between the two major Indigenous art prizes in Australia – the NATSIAAs in Darwin and the WA Indigenous Art Awards in Perth – may be widening. While this year's finalists up North are predominantly artists from remote communities (see my separate story), 35% of Perth's selected finalists are urban/Blak artists. And winner Megan Cope, announced on 3rd July, is certainly one of them.

    Cope is a proudly identifying Noonucal/Ngugi woman of 30. She has nothing to prove to herself and the world – though the Australia Council's Aboriginal Arts Board sought to disagree – that she is Aboriginal. So the notion of her needing a Blaktism (Baptism – get it???) ceremony to give her the authenticity her less-than-black appearance denies her is a cruel irony. Indeed, in 'proving' herself to the Australia Council, she did even begin to doubt herself: “Am I Aboriginal enough???”

    Her film [i]'The Blaktism'[/i]
    captures that irony subtly but well – the sense of non-Indigenous ceremony, a plinth covered by the Union Jack, the Renaissance church music and dog-collared celebrant, and the wonderfully pious euphemism for the 'blacking up' part of the ceremony - “pigment resolution” - set the scene for Megan's proud smile as she seals her transformation with a ritual drink. Once alone, however, an emptiness is apparent as she slowly wipes the blacking off; perhaps she's thinking of Andrew Bolt?

    Oddly, the quiet power of the piece is read by WAIAA judge Amy Barrett-Lennard as being associated with the brashness and 'showy' work that comes out of the proppaNOW group in Brisbane – Cope's former alma mater. I disagree – but it may help to explain Cope's victory in Perth for a piece of work that no tribal Aboriginal artist could begin to imagine creating. It's subject-matter, dramaturgy and technology are specifically the province of an urban artist.

    No doubt, fellow urbanites Karla Dickens, Sandra Hill, Archie Moore and Steaphen Paton would understand; but I doubt that Yunkarra Billy Atkins (Martu), Simon Hogan (Pitjanjatjara), Ninggirrnga Marawili (Yolngu), Eunice Porter (Ngaanyatjarra – and winner of the WA Artist's Award for her 'history paintings'), Betty Kuntiwa Pumani (Yankunytjatjara), John Prince Siddon (Walmajarri), the eight-strong Tjala Collaborative (APY Lands) or Carlene West (Pitjanjatjara) would see the point. Maybe the increasingly high-profile naïve Aranda artist Vincent Namatjira, the grandson of Albert who create stories around figurative cartoons of his grandfather, the Queen, John Howard and Julia Gillard, might just see the irony.

    So – very hard for judges Clothilde Bullen and Carly Lane from the WA Art Gallery, Kimberley Moulton from the Melbourne Museum and Amy Barrett-Lennard, director of the Perth Institute of Contemporary Arts to compare and contrast. Three Indigenous judges but none from a tribal language group – as the NATSIAAs are pioneering this year. What could they intuit of the collaborative negotiation required for the eight Elder artists from Amata to agree on designs for their three large canvases? Would they have been able to feel the pain of the Spinifex artist Carlene West as she claimed back the lands from which she was separated by the Maralinga atomic tests in canvases that burst on to the scene last year? Is the radicality of great grandmother Nonggirrnga Marawili's bark painting reflecting on traditional Lightning Snake stories in ways unlike any other Yolngu artist, readily apparent to urban eyes?

    In the catalogue, curator Carly Lane makes the case – one that I've also made before – that categorisations as 'spiritual' and 'political' tend to be attached to remote and urban Aboriginal art, in that order, in order to separate and divide them. Whereas she would argue that both are as likely to be present in both camps. I'm sure Megan Cope and Carlene West both contain the two categories – as should have been apparent from my assessments of each's contribution to the Awards. But did I suggest that Cope's work was not 'authentic'? For that is Lane's conclusion – that the spiritual/political divide has disadvantaged the urban work from acceptance as 'authentic' Aboriginal art.

    In fact, surely [i]both [/i]
    are disadvantaged by being given a single label. People who are uncomfortable with the notion that any sort of spiritual statement might lie in their desert canvas or Arnhem bark need to be redirected towards the politics of Country or the unique aesthetic of that tribal group. One only has to look at the history of the WA Awards – where People's Choice prizes have gone to the late Shane Pickett (twice), Michael Cook and Brian Robinson – four out of the five occasions – and all Western-trained artists.

    The stimulating exhibition of not just single works but a curated group of works from each artist continues at the WA Gallery until 12 October. And you can vote in their People's Choice Awards online (after studying the art) at [url=][/url]
  • TELSTRAS CHARGE ON by on Tue, 21 Jul 2015 12:29:09 +1000:
    The recent release of the 65 names that will be adjudged next month for the six National Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Art awards – the NATSIAAs – conceal some remarkable developments in Darwin. It seems unlikely that they originated with the new Director at the Museum & Art Gallery of the NT - Marcus Schutenko, formerly the CEO of the Museum of Chinese Australian History in Melbourne – since he was only appointed in May.

    So perhaps we have his unlucky predecessor, Pierre Arpin to thank for these innovations.

    For a start, there's an Aboriginal artist judging the Awards! That hasn't happened since they began 32 years ago, though it's been a proposal of mine for a long time. It's so refreshing to see Bidyadanga dynamo Daniel Walbidi (last year's Telstra Painting winner) up there as one of the three judges – though the others once again represent the southern establishment: Tony Elwood Director of the NGV and Cara Pinchbeck, Indigenous curator at the AGNSW.

    And then there's definite suggestions that the debate which MAGNT Chair, Allan Myers QC raised at last years Awards is heading for resolution. He wondered just how feasible it is to judge the Western-trained artists of the South against the traditionally-inspired artists of remote Australia. Well, as far as I can tell, without changing any of the rules, just three southern artists have made the cut – the least for many a year. Did the heroes of Brisbane, Melbourne and Sydney not enter? Or were the judges responding to Myers' line of questioning?

    So it'll be intriguing to see how Anna Dowling, former Telstra winner Julie's cousin from Adelaide, Damien Shen, the Chinese/Aboriginal nephew of Ngarrindjeri leader, Major Sumner, who was inspired by Vernon Ah Kee's work, and Josh Muir, the Ballarat boy for whom his graffiti-based art was part of his way away from drugs, fare on August 7th. After all the WA Indigenous Art Award went this year to Melbourne's Megan Cope for a video work which must have been almost impossible to compare with the Tjala Collaborative of Pitjanjatjara Elders or Nonggirnga Marawili's barks from Arnhemland.

    Finally, the NATSIAAs seem to have responded to my plaint about the absence of a sense of ceremony at the actual prize-giving – that wonderful event which takes place as the sun sets over the waveless Arafura Sea. Can't guarantee the theatricality this year – though new man Marcus Schutenko does have a theatrical background – but Christine Anu has been hired to provide both glamour and songs that should nicely link her Torresian islander origins to this seaside setting.

    So here are the 2015 contestants for the $50,000 Big Telstra and the five $5000 artform prizes:
    Anna Dowling - Adelaide
    Anyupa Stevens - Nyapari, South Australia
    Barayuwa Mununggurr - Yirrkala, Northern Territory
    Barbara Mbitjana Moore - Amata, South Australia
    Betty Conway - Alice Springs, Northern Territory
    Betty Kuntiwa Pumani - Mimili, South Australia
    Bob Gibson - Tjukurla, Western Australia
    Bobby West Tjupurrula - Kirwirrkura, Western Australia
    Brian Robinson - Cairns, Queensland
    Carol Golding - Wanarn, Western Australia
    Clarise Tunkin - Kunpi, South Australia
    Claudia Moodoonuthi - Brisbane, Queensland
    Damien Shen - Adelaide
    Daniel O'Shane - Cairns, Queensland
    Esther Giles - Tjukurla, Western Australia
    Evelyn Omeenyo - Lockhart River, Queensland
    Florence Gutchen - Darnley Island, Torres Strait, Queensland
    Garawan Wanambi - Yirrkala, Northern Territory
    Gladdy Kemarre - Utopia, Northern Territory
    Glen Mackie - Cairns, Queensland
    Gordon Ingkatji - Pukatja (Ernabella), South Australia
    Graham Badari - Gunbalanya, Northern Territory
    Guykuda Mununggurr - Yirrkala, Northern Territory
    Heather Koowootha - Cairns, Queensland
    Hector Burton - Amata, South Australia
    Hubert Pareroultja - Alice Springs, Northern Territory
    Jakayu Biljabu - Fitzroy Crossing, Western Australia
    Janine McAullay Bott - Perth, Western Australia
    Josh Muir - Ballarat, Victoria
    Jukuja Dolly Snell - Fitzroy Crossing, Western Australia
    Keith and Tjampana Stevens - Nyapari, South Australia
    Kieren Karritpul - Nauiyu, Daly River, Northern Territory
    Laurie Ngallametta - Arakun, Queensland
    Laurie Nona - Badu Island, Torres Strait, Queensland
    Mabel Juli - Warmun, Western Australia 
    Margaret Boko - Alice Springs, Northern Territory
    Maria Josette Orsto - Nguiu, Northern Territory
    Marrnyula Mununggurr - Yirrkala, Northern Territory
    Mick Wilkilyiri - Amata, South Australia
    Mulkun Wirrpanda - Dhuruputjpi, Northern Territory
    Munmalih Sisters - Manaburduma, Northern Territory
    Murdie Nampijinpa Morris - Nyirripi, Northern Territory
    Naomi Hobson - Coen, Cape York, Queensland
    Napuwarri Marawili - Yirrkala, Northern Territory
    Ngupulya Pumani - Mimili, South Australia
    Nonggirrnga Marawili - Yirrkala, Northern Territory
    Nyapanyapa Yunupingu - Birritjimi, Northern Territory
    Nyarapayi Giles - Tjukurla, Western Australia
    Nyunmiti Burton - Amata, Northern Territory
    Phyllis Thomas - Rugan, Western Australia
    Rammey Ramsey - Bow River, Western Australia
    Rerrkirrwanga Mununggurr - Wandawuy, Northern Territory
    Rhonda Sharpe - Alice Springs, Northern Territory
    Robert Fielding - Mimili, South Australia
    Rusty Peters - Warmun, Western Australia
    Shirley Macnamara - Mt Guide Station, Queensland
    Sid Bruce Short Joe - Pormpuraaw, Cape York, Queensland
    Spinifex Women's Collaborative - Tjuntjuntjara, Western Australia
    Tiger Yaltangki - Indulkana, South Australia
    Tjungkara Ken - Rocket Bore, South Australia
    Venita Woods - Kanpi, Northern Territory
    Wukun Wanambi - Yirrkala, Northern Territory
    Yinarupa Nangala - Kiwirrkurra, Western Australia
    Yukultji Napangati - Kiwirrkurra, Western Australia
    Yurpiya Lionel - Pukatja (Ernabella), South Australia
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