In the Australian desert, the sky is as vast as the land. The coexistence of expansion and detail is overwhelming to visitors, whose eyes cannot begin to grasp the magnitude and depth of the heavens, dotted with incommensurable specks of light.
For the Anangu people of the Anangu Pitjantjatjara Yankunyjatjara (APY) Lands, observing the smallest features of the landscape is second nature. Every detail is detected; no shade of colour, light and darkness goes unnoticed.
In the desert, Aboriginal painting and art making is a way to document and narrate this Connection to Country. The results are like no other.
Audiences encountering Aboriginal art for the first time experience the same sense of astonishment as visitors to the remote outback. The area is home of some Australia’s best known and most innovative Aboriginal artists, who exhibit their works regularly in the most coveted galleries overseas.
Immediately obvious is how colours, shapes and dots come to life on the canvas. The artworks tell the ancient stories of creation, the stories of the land, ceremony and the ancient philosophy of Tjukurpa (Law). They hold truth and secrets.
Belinda Hanrahan, Hazelhurst Regional Art Gallery and Arts Centre Director says ‘Nganampa Kililpil: Our Stars’ is the most significant and ambitious undertaking for a regional gallery.
“We are pleased to showcase some of Australia’s leading Indigenous artists from some of Australia’s remotest areas,” Ms Hanrahan says.
The exhibition is expected to draw people from Sydney, regional New South Wales and beyond, as it is a rare opportunity for coastal dwellers to see this spectacular work. Works include new and commissioned pieces in a range of media, from painting and printmaking to ceramics, fibre work and installations by senior, young and emerging artists.
The concept was developed by the artists together with the art centres and Hazelhurst Gallery curator, Carrie Kibbler. Together, they produced significant new works specifically for the project.
“The highlights of the exhibition will be two 3 x 5 metre collaborative paintings featuring artists from each of the seven art centres – the first time that artists from across the APY Lands have worked together on a single painting.
“The women’s collaborative, which was developed during workshops held in June, tells the Seven Sisters story and includes the work of 20 artists. The men’s collaborative painting is currently being developed in workshops with 10 of the senior artists from across the region,” Ms Kibbler says.
The exhibition will be complemented with a short documentary featuring interviews with the artists. It will also include special activities and important artworks on loan from national and state gallery collections, as well as private collectors.
Exhibiting artists include Dickie Minyintiri, Pepai Jangala Carroll, Tjungkara Ken, Tiger Palpatja, Wingu Tingima, Hector Burton, Nellie Stewart, Harry Tjutjuna, Jimmy Donegan, Sandy Brumby, Tjampawa Katie Kawiny, Sylvia Ken, Ngupulya Pumani and Taylor Cooper. They regularly work in remote art centres, including Tjala Arts at Amata; Ernabella Arts at Pukatja; Mimili Maku Arts at Mimili; Tjungu Palya at Nyapari; Ninuku Arts at Kalka; Kaltjiti Arts at Kaltjiti, and Iwantja Arts at Indulkana.
Nganampa Kililpil: Our Stars, Hazelhurst Regional Gallery 15 October – 11 December, 2016