• 'Yam Awely' by Emily Kngwarreye takes pride of place in the dining room at The Lodge. (AAP)Source: AAP
When Lucy Turnbull and the Prime Minister sit at the dining table in The Lodge, they will do so under the gaze of ancestors thousands of years old.
Rachael Hocking

2 Feb 2016 - 4:03 PM  UPDATED 2 Feb 2016 - 4:57 PM

On one wall in The Lodge's dining room hangs a large painting by Anmatyerre artist Emily Kame Kngwarreye.

'Yam awely' is one of the many artworks on loan from the National Gallery of Australia (NGA) to the Prime Minister’s Lodge.

The NGA’s Senior Curator for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Art, Franchesca Cubillo, says that the painting is a mirror to the artist’s strength, her ancestors and the Yam Dreaming.

“You can see the colour palette of that work is so representational of the strength and power of that ancestor."

“The energy of that ancestor to live beneath the surface of the earth, and to penetrate that dense earth, and the minute the rain comes, it just grows and spreads below the ground, and above the ground,” Ms Cubillo said.

Ms Kngwarreye started painting 'Yam alwely' in 1995. It was one of her last great pieces - having had a brilliant career as an artist that spanned eight years, and who is believed, started painting in her seventies.

“You can see that for somebody that was a strong little old lady in the middle of Utopia, her visual language was so in tune with the ancestor, and so powerful, that she could convey the strength of that ancestor in a work that will now sit in the walls of the lodge in front of many dignitaries, and people from around the world,” Ms Cubillo said.

Aboriginal art on the world stage

'Yam alwely 'is not the only Indigenous artwork that sits in The Lodge.

Other artists include Paddy Bedford, Rover Thomas, and Barbara Moore.

Lucy Turnbull’s decision to open The Lodge to the media in a Kennedy-style tour has given the paintings a lot of exposure, but rather than boost sales Ms Cubillo says their place in The Lodge is indicative of where Indigenous art stands on the world stage.

“Having works of that calibre out in our broader communities means that there is that understanding and appreciation."

“I think our communities can take great pride in that and be proud of the fact that there are members of that broader Australian community that really love the rich heritage that we bring to this nation,” she said.