The following quotation is from Short Street galleries website in association with their exhibition “These are the stories we teach our children” – In memory of Kunmanara Williamson. An exhibition from the women artists of Amata.
These works remind us of the imperative significance of inter-generational wisdom. Each work is weighted with a sense of importance, these are not just simple landscapes, they are imbued with meanings of things that are fundamental to our existence. In celebrating country, these women are emphasising the very nature and the significance of consciousness itself.
Not a huge piece, but really pulling a punch, is my latest Sally Gabori acquisition purchased from Dallas Gold’s gallery Raft Artspace in Alice Springs. Having sat on the floor in Dallas’s gallery pouring over vibrant, energetic, stunning pieces by Sally Gabori on a few occasions, this particular painting kept haunting me until I bought it.
For me it is Sally’s unabashed placement of colour, perfectly balanced by an adjudicating strip of white, somewhere in the composition. Measuring 1000 x 1500mm, I look forward to hanging it along side one of Sally’s other paintings 1500 x 2000mm in some confident client’s foyer or Boardroom!
Unlike most contemporary Aboriginal artists who use acrylic paint, Phyllis Thomas paints ochre on canvas.
Being a Kitja ochre artist, she paints Daiwal (Barramundi) Dreaming. In order to catch the fish, people throw leaves into the water to make the barramundi sleepy – they then rise to the surface and are easier to catch! The leaves turn the water a red colour – hence Phyllis has painted the scales of the fish using red ochre. The black canvas behind represents the women’s skin.
The image on the left shows the elder women of the Kitja community semi dressed and displaying the body paint of the Barramundi on the top half of their bodies, in anticipation of Women’s Business. I find the picture interested and yet somehow disturbing – did the women wear their bra’s to protect their own modesty or the sensibilities of the gathered crowd?
I have just spent time in Alice Springs with Kudditji Kngwarreye. An extraordinary visit, where I sat with him while he painted, singing his way through a beautiful vivid blue and white panel. Having loved Kudditji’s work since I was first introduced to it, it was a great honour to sit with him and to have the opportunity to tell him what his art means to me, how moved I am by it, how it physically grabs my soul – even thinking about it now, my heart rate quickens, there is a palpable energy that his paintings impart.
That same painting hung in Fanuli Furniture, Cremorne for only a few days before a client walked into the store and fell instantly in love with it – just the way it should be!
Being an Aboriginal art addict can mean that non-indigenous work does not always get a look in!!
However the moment I met “China Boy” a highly pixelated black and white photograph by nationally acclaimed photographer Michelle Aboud, I know that we were destined to be together.
“China Boy” is sixth in a limited edition series of six photos printed onto canvas. Measuring 1450 x1450mmm square (approx) he is a striking and fitting companion to the Aborignal works by Kudditji Kngwareyye, Minnie Pwerle, Dorothy Napangardi, Barney Campbell Tjakamarra and others, that adorn my walls.
However there is an ora of innocence and charm about this boy, achieved not just by capturing a single moment in time, but also by the pixelation process of bringing together thousands of different sized individual black dots to create a work of art. At close range, the photograph reminds me of one of Dorothy Napangardi’s paintings, yet when you squint slightly, it is a fully integrated black and white photo
of “China Boy”.
Having just read “The Hare with Amber Eyes” by Edmund de Waal, I would love to know more about this small child – where he is from, what is he looking at, what has captured his attention.
I am currently reading Betty Churcher’s book “Notebooks” a compilation of essays on her favourite atrworks, hanging in respective galleries throughout the world. Given that her eye sight was failing, Betty Churcher decided to sketch the key points of her favourite paintings so that they would make an indelible impression on her mind’s eye.
This book reminds me of experiences that I shared with my Year 8 art teacher Sue McBride, whom I credit for opening my eyes to a new way of looking at art and the world at large.
The act of relaxing into a painting and allowing it to take you on a journey, is one of the most seductive pleasures that I can image. By simultaneously looking at the work and reading Betty’s interpretation of it, the whole painting opens up in meaning and visual delight. Not all of Betty’s favourite paintings are mine, however her commentary enriches each one, making it more personal and an overall enjoyable experience.