From the Land – Masterful Art, Incinerator Art Space, Sydney

‘From The Land’ at the Incinerator Art Space from the 25 June to the 13 July is “an exhibition by the masters of the Western, Central and Tanami Desert painting movements.

They are “affirming the extraordinary spiritual and cultural nourishment provided by this country to its Aboriginal people and the one-ness of their existence to this vast land.”

The opening of the ‘show was informative and stimulating.

Brendon Moore an Aboriginal Horticulturist was introduced as guest speaker and he also honoured the traditional custodians of the land.

He belongs to the Biripi nation and his totem is the shark. Brendon stressed the Aboriginal peoples’ connection to the land, flora and fauna.

He had the audience captivated by his story telling about the Rainbow Serpent.

He displayed his digeridoo, discussing the art work covering the instrument explaining the dots as a landscape view.

The hallowed sounds of the land were reverberating from his playing. This was an awe inspiring section of the events.

The exhibition was highlighted as one of the major artistic events of the Gu-ring-gai Festival where “Wellness and Wellbeing for all people” is the focus. The Festival is a yearly celebration of indigenous culture and heritage promoting the theme of reconciliation.

Body Paint (Ode to Emily) by Gloria Petyarre courtesy artist

It runs till the end of NAIDOC Week in July.

Congratulations to Venita Poblocki Curator and Visual Arts Coordinator from Willoughby City Council [City of Diversity] located in the Sydney metropolis for the passion, sensitivity and astute understanding and knowledge permeating this outstanding exhibition.

The talent and stunning calibre of the Aboriginal artists she has represented at this exhibition were overwhelming.

Emily Kame Kngwarreye is one of the most renowned and successful artists in the history of contemporary Indigenous Australian Art.

When Emily was asked what she painted, her response was: “Whole lot, that’s whole lot, Awelye [my Dreaming], Arlatyeye [pencil yam], Arkerrthe [mountain devil lizard], Ntange [grass seed], Tingu [Dreamtime pup], Ankerre[emu], Intekwe [favourite food of emus, a small plant], Atnwerie [green bean], and Kame [yam seed].

That’s what I paint, whole lot”.

Among the very notable artists were Billy Stockman and Clifford Possum Tjapaltjarr, two of the founding members of the school of painting known as the Western Dessert Art Movement.

Clifford Possum- Tjapaltjarri Initiation Ceremony, courtesy Artist

In 2004 the Art Gallery of New South Wales held an exhibition of Clifford Possum’s art works.

“Like Albert Namatjira before him, Clifford Possum blazed a trail for future generations of Indigenous artists; bridging the gap between Aboriginal art and contemporary Australian art.”

He is a master of iconology depicting concentric circles, U shapes, parallel lines and his own handprints.

To me, the handprints were nurturing, gentle and indicative of the custodianship of the Dreamings and the land.

The muted colours and stippling techniques revealed the land, its diversity and its promise and they touched me deeply.

Bush Medicine Leavesy by Gloria Petyarre courtesy Artist

An ardent admirer of abstract art, I feel there is similarity with some contemporary Aboriginal artworks.

The markings, grids, textures and colours illustrate this conviction.

The philosophical explorations and alignment to unique self expression of both art worlds make for significant connections.

One of the most prominent female Aboriginal artists living and working today is Gloria Petyarre.

She was the first indigenous Aboriginal Australian artist ever to win a major art prize at the Gallery of New South Wales.

In 1999 she won the Wynne Prize for landscape. She is internationally celebrated for her Bush Medicine Leaf paintings series.

Gloria Petyarre’s intuitive and rhythmical brush strokes explore the pattern created by ‘Bush Medicine Leaves’.  The ethereal brush strokes denote movement and change.

The vibrant palette of colours explodes radiating warmth and healing. Petals of light and life permeate this painting, producing energy and generating the power of renewal.

Activity Table at the Exhibition

Gloria Petyarre’s painting ‘Body Paint [Ode to Emily]’ and Minnie Pwerle’s ‘Body Paint’ depict body paint designs used in women’s sacred ceremonies.

When the women dance in their ceremonies, the repeated movements create lyrical etchings in the red sandy earth.

The movements and patterns of the dances are echoed in both paintings.

The confident and uninhibited application of brush strokes arose from the truths and traditions of women’s ceremonies and the love of the land and this for me was very humbling.

The painted lines and markings on women’s upper bodies in preparation for the sacred ceremonies are as important as the ceremonies.

The minimalist white horizontal lines on the black background of Gloria’s painting appealed to my love of chromatic and abstract geometric artworks.

Simultaneously, the warm colours and free expression of the lines of Minnie’s painting made for very satisfying viewing.

Both paintings were positioned together at the exhibition.

Makinti Napanangka, Lulpulnga, acrylic on linen, courtesy Artist

My love of Aboriginal Art, in particular, contemporary Aboriginal Art, evolved from my very strong commitment to Aboriginal Education.

Consequently I was delighted to see the inclusion of activities for children at the exhibition.

They have the opportunity for sensory learning experiences tasting Salt Bush and smelling many examples of “bush tucker” including Native Finger Limes and Native Bush Plums.

Bunya Nut from the Bunya Pine on the Activity Table...

I saw my first Bunya Nut from the majestic Bunya Pine.

Aboriginal reference books and Dreamtime picture books are scattered on the table for easy access.

Hopefully igniting thoughts and generating further investigation for children and adults about Aboriginal culture and art.

There is so much more in this exhibition and I have already been several times.

Each time I discover I am drawn to observe and contemplate different  fine examples of contemporary Aboriginal Indigenous Art.

This is an extraordinary exhibition, a very powerful reminder of the integrity of Aboriginal commitment to the land, their unique visual interpretations of The Dreaming, masterfully painted and their celebration of life.

Rose Niland, NSW Special Features Correspondent, The Culture Concept Circle, 2014

From The Land

25 June – 13 July 2014

Incinerator Art Space

2 Small Street Willoughby NSW 2068

A Willoughby City Council curated exhibition.

Part of the Guringai Festival 2014

Incinerator Art Space is a cultural facility provided by Willoughby City Council

Artists include

and more

Native Flora And Its Uses

A walking tour and workshop with Aboriginal Horticulturist, Brendon Moore

2pm -3pm, Saturday 5 July – There is a charge per person

BOOKINGS essential 0401 638501 or [email protected]

Walk around the Incinerator parklands with Brendon Moore and discover how important knowledge of native flora was to Aboriginal people. Learn how plants supported lives as food, tools, clothing, medicines and building materials.


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