Country & Western landscape re-imagined 1
Country & Western landscape re-imagined Gavin Wilson
Perc Tucker Regional Gallery Exhibition Publication Sponsor
Published on the occasion of
Gallery Services Gallery Services, Townsville City Council PO Box 1268 Townsville Queensland, 4810 Australia email@example.com ÂŠGallery Services, Townsville City Council and the authors 2015 ISBN: 978-0-949461-05-6
landscape re-imagined Perc Tucker Regional Gallery 24 July - 20 September 2015 Project Manager Shane Fitzgerald
Shane Fitzgerald Eric Nash Erwin Cruz Michael Pope Rob Donaldson Jo Stacey Holly Grech-Fitzgerald Carly Sheil Andrea Schutz Sarah Welch Leonardo Valero Rurik Henry Petra Pattinson Jess Cuddihy Wendy Bainbridge Danielle Berry Damian Cumner Jillian Macfie Sarah Reddington Denise Weightman Kelly Bianchi
Country & Western
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Exhibition Curator Gavin Wilson
Publication Design and Development
Rob Donaldson / Shane Fitzgerald / Eric Nash / Gavin Wilson
Angelina George b. 1937 - 2015 Yungul Mangi Near Ruined City [detail] 2007 synthetic polymer paint on canvas 160 x 200 cm
Purchased 2008, Museum & Art Gallery Northern Territory Collection Telstra National Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Art Award winning painting
Note: Thanks are extended to all the individuals and institutions that assisted with the provision of images and permissions for the publication. Perc Tucker Regional Gallery would like to advise that it has undertaken every effort to seek permission to reproduce all artworks contained within this publication. All artworks contained herein are illustrated for educational and promotional purposes only. All inquiries relative to copyright permissions and reproductions should be directed to Perc Tucker Regional Gallery or the artists and their licensed agents.
Contents Foreword 6 Shane Fitzgerald
Preface 9 Gavin Wilson
Country & Western: landscape re-imagined 11 Gavin Wilson
Endnotes 124 Acknowledgements 125 Venues 125 List of works 126
n 2015 the notion that our landscape defines, represents and binds us remains as much a prevalent impetus for artists as that of the early and deliberately nationalistic pre-Federation pictures that captured the Australian cultural identity of the period.
Perhaps most importantly the exhibitions developed as part of the National Touring Program provide national and international exposure for the region’s artists; quantifiable economic benefits by attracting visitors to the region; direct interaction with students at primary, secondary and tertiary level which encourages lifelong learning and appreciation of the arts; and a positioning of Townsville as an arts and cultural leader in the national consciousness.
It is true that our perception of landscape is inextricably linked to who we are, what we feel and how we interact with space. Landscape has remained an inexhaustible muse for generations of artists as they seek to reconcile our place within the fabric of being and I would surmise that it would remain such for generations to come.
No project of this scope is possible without the support of various funding bodies and partners and I would like to extend my deepest gratitude to the Australia Council for the Arts, Glencore, Gordon Darling Foundation and Townsville City Council for their support in realising this major exhibition.
In this, his latest exhibition, celebrated curator Gavin Wilson brings to the forefront how artists are reimagining the Australian landscape post 1988 - our bicentennial year.
Thanks are extended to the curator, Gavin Wilson, who has worked closely with Perc Tucker Regional Gallery on this project over the past 24 months. Gavin’s work is the culmination of several years of independent research and a passionate dedication to realise his original concept into an exhibition of the highest quality.
The success and magnitude of the exhibition, which this publication accompanies, is due to the good will of many Australian public art museums, private collectors and artists who have generously agreed to lend key works from their respective collections. Without their support exhibitions such as Country & Western: landscape reimagined would not be possible. For that we are deeply grateful.
Country & Western: landscape re-imagined will embark on its national tour from late 2015 and will tour to seven regional and state institutions throughout Australia until 2017. I am certain that the exhibition will delight audiences throughout the country whilst providing valuable insights into Indigenous and non-Indigenous perspectives of our visually diverse and rich landscape.
The exhibition also heralds the commencement of Gallery Services National Touring Program that was developed as part of the Visual Arts Strategy adopted in 2013. The National Touring Program identifies and develops selected special projects drawn from the City of Townsville Art Collection; local, national and international artists; Townsville arts and cultural organisations; regional, state, national and international galleries and museums; and private and corporate collections; which are toured throughout Australia as part of Gallery Services’ role as a leading public art organisation in Northern Australia.
Shane Fitzgerald Manager, Gallery Services Perc Tucker Regional Gallery
Gertie Huddleston b. 1933 - 2014 Mara, Ngukurr, Gulf region Different landcapes around Ngukurr [detail] 1996 synthetic polymer paint on canvas 122 x 199 cm
Purchased 1997, Museum and Art Gallery of the Northern Territory Collection
azing across the nationâ€™s landscape, artists have referenced the past, the future and the ever present to identify and give a sense of place to the space they occupy. The experience can be grounded in the physical reality of a site, along with its deep, often-elusive spiritual associations. Country & Western: landscape re-imagined brings into focus the contrasting insights and cultural imperatives, both Indigenous (Country) and non-Indigenous (Western), that have given shape and substance to our evolving attitudes and perceptions of the national landscape over the past 25 years. To grasp an appreciation of the enterprise, a timeframe was established. As a consequence, the works assembled for Country & Western are all post bicentennial pieces. In traversing the Australian landscape through a disparate body of work by a significant group of 39 artists working in various media, the exhibition reaffirms the impact landscape exerts on the national psyche. In recent decades, the world has come to accept Indigenous art as the authentic, defining image of the Australian landscape - a landscape famously re-invigorated by its original custodians. In the early 1970s, the Papunya Tula painting movement transformed the direction of Australian art, in particular, Australian painting.
With the focus back on the national landscape in all its complexity, now is the time to assess the relevance of western landscape traditions in response to the Indigenous vision, and search out common ground (if any). As well, the vexed issues of dispossession, identity, collaboration, mining and land degradation along with the elemental impact of fire and rain and the countryâ€™s natural splendour are all viewed from differing cultural perspectives. What has become apparent in the work of the nonIndigenous artists is the depth of the emotional response they had to various sites. That hard-won grasp of the character of a place with its history and inter-connected landscape systems underpinned the quality of the work. In recent times, respect and an evolving apprehension of Indigenous culture has enhanced the western landscape tradition in Australian art. Gavin Wilson Exhibition Curator
Elisabeth Cummings b. 1934 Brisbane, QLD After the Wet Elcho Island [detail] 2004 oil on canvas 175 x 250 cm (diptych)
Chroma Collection, Orange Regional Gallery ÂŠ Elisabeth Cummings / Licensed by Viscopy, 2015
Noel McKenna b. 1956 Brisbane, QLD Lighthouses of Australia 2006 oil on canvas 150 x 180 cm
Collection John F. Morrissey, Sydney Â© Noel McKenna / Licensed by Viscopy, 2015
Country & Western landscape re-imagined
s a people, we are constantly confronted with images of the national landscape. The information is delivered in various formats, generally as a backdrop to some extreme event. How we filter these images and define their value is revealed in the places where people choose to live. The fact Australia is largely a nation of fringe dwellers does not diminish the mythical pull of the bush. While epic stories from all quarters of the interior have penetrated the national psyche, it was the country’s jagged edge that blazoned the nation’s bicentennial celebration. A sequence of spectacular bonfires lining the Australian coast marked the bicentennial year of European occupation. It was a bitter-sweet moment: Bitter for Indigenous people who saw the events of 1788 as the beginning of a brutal physical and cultural dispossession. In Canberra, a mute reliquary was installed at the National Gallery of Australia. The Aboriginal Memorial consisted of 200 hollow log coffins carved and painted by Ramingining artists in Arnhem Land. As curator Djon Mundine pointed out, it was not conceived as an act of reconciliation, but as a memorial to commemorate Indigenous Australians who died defending their Country. On the other hand, most non-Indigenous people who celebrated the event felt secure in their sense of nationhood. The chain of bonfires was a gesture that attempted to cross cultural divides, triggering memories of personal and historic events. A painting that resonates with the bicentennial ring of fire, and harks back to the fiery coastline that greeted early explorers, is Lighthouses of Australia, 2006, by Noel McKenna (b.1956). The artist’s meticulous notation of all the nation’s lighthouses establishes a moment of instant recognition. The blank, dark interior reinforces the enigma that lies at the heart of the continent.
ifting through earlier perceptions of landscape, Imants Tillers (b.1950) came across one of the most powerful images in Australian art. In Model of Reality, 1989, the artist was drawn to the awful grandeur of Eugene von Guérard’s Bushfire between Mount Elephant and Timboon, 1857-1859. The modest scale of von Guérard’s work (34.8 x 56.3 cm), belies the searing impact this fiery nocturne has on the viewer. As a master navigator of the post-modernist conceit, Tillers has channelled the sublime energy emanating from the original work positioning the enhanced vision centrestage in the national landscape with the words, ME HERE NOW. While loaded with irony, the imposing work also carries an element of sentiment for the great New Zealand artist, Colin McCahon, whose personal, spiritual dilemma was writ large across the landscape of his homeland. Of all the natural occurrences, fire remains one of the country’s most intensely felt experiences. A group of paintings has been selected to further probe the visceral, emotional and cultural impact of fire. Bushfire, 2003, is a reductive large-scale work by Ronnie Tjampitjinpa (b. c.1943). It is an elegant cultural contrast to Tillers’ Model of Reality. In Tjampitjinpa’s painting, fire is totemic; there is a sense of order or control. As an elder from Kintore in the Northern Territory, he envisages fire as a force for both destruction and creation. In Tillers’ image, the all-consuming destruction is writ large. There is no suggestion the conflagration is a systematic burn: the event is out of control.
Imants Tillers b. 1950 Sydney, NSW Model of Reality 1989
oilstick, gouache, synthetic polymer paint on 90 canvas boards 228.6 x 381 cm Purchased with funds from the Colin Hicks Caldwell Bequest, 1992 Collection: Art Gallery of Ballarat
Ronnie Tjampitjinpa b. c 1943 Kintore, NT Bushfire 2003
synthetic polymer paint on linen 202 x 305 cm Private Collection
Over the past few years, Mandy Martin (b.1952), along with other artists, writers, conservationists and scientists, has worked in the Paruku Indigenous Protected Area around Lake Gregory in the southern Kimberley of Western Australia. In Burnt Patch at Handover Camp, 2013, one can feel the artist applying the ground red ochre onto the canvas, defining the forms of the fire-resistant termite mounds surrounded by the scorched patches of a recent burn. William L. Fox, director of the Center for Art + Environment, Nevada Museum of Art takes up the story: ‘Fire scars surrounded the (artists’) camp from years of burning the land in careful sequence, even as smoke blanketed the horizon from multiple fires burning both on purpose and not within Paruku.’ 1 Burnt Patch at Handover Camp is an eloquent example of Martin’s observant immersion in a landscape system that takes time to be appreciated. As Fox notes: ‘(Mandy Martin’s contemporary works) serve as a testament to an environmental stewardship that reaches back to the Pleistocene.’2
Mandy Martin b. 1952 Adelaide, SA Burnt Patch at Handover Camp ochre, pigments and oil on linen 180 x 180 cm
Collection of the artist
A painting imbued with the emotional impact of fire on a personal level is Elisabeth Cummings’ (b.1934), After the Fires, Wedderburn 1994. The fire had threatened her home in the south-west of Sydney before destroying the surrounding bush and studio. The square format of the work carries an expressive depiction of the destruction of the artist’s studio, seen reduced to a charred, smoky ruin. The misshapen forms of burnt debris and the desiccated tones of heat-affected vegetation mark the fiery trauma in a moving statement of loss. But the work is more than that: it is a defiant act of creation amidst the embers of despair.
Elisabeth Cummings b. 1934 Brisbane, QLD After the Fires, Wedderburn 1994 oil on canvas 181 x 181 cm
King Street Gallery on William © Elisabeth Cummings / Licensed by Viscopy, 2015
xtreme climatic events continue to shape and characterise the national landscape. Dry spells now tend to linger longer. Global warming acts like a vice on the world’s driest land mass. Images of parched and barren lands throughout northwest New South Wales, southern Queensland and beyond provide the tragic evidence of a decimated agricultural and pastoral industry. Dry Dam Bedervale, 2004, by the Braidwood-based artist John R Walker (b. 1957), was painted at the height of the great drought of 2004. The exposed fragments of barbed wire and farm detritus at the bottom of the dam create the eerie atmosphere of an abandoned battlefield: a grim symbol of rejection and defeat. In time, a certain caste of pioneering folk will no longer occupy these lands. What remains will be a mute testament to a tragic, ill-conceived endeavour.
The Hunter Valley in New South Wales has long been an extensive coal mining region operating in close proximity to established wineries and olive groves along with cattle and horse breeding properties. As a coal mine expands, it can have a detrimental effect on its neighbours. Air quality is reduced, water resources are compromised and exacerbated by the removal of native trees, a key element in the evapo-transpiration cycle. This sense of conflicting values is deftly portrayed in Noel McKenna’s Upper Hunter picture 2, 2010. The mechanical coupling of a coal loader and truck alongside a gaping hole in the landscape complements the scene to the distant right of a stallion mounting a mare under the shade of a lone native tree. The witty, ironic image displays no sign of any positive interconnection. The water element, vital for both industries, is in a precarious state.
As a viable enterprise, much of the country’s marginal farmlands, particularly in the Murray Darling Basin, have been in a spiralling decline since the 1960s. An orderly retreat would be preferable to the bloodyminded notion of ‘staying on’ in a pitiless, life sapping environment. Of course, the question is where do people go, and what to do when they get there. As a nation, we need to re-imagine the possibilities of our landscape in an era of climate change and diminishing resources. After 227 years of settlement, a very short time in the antipodean scheme of things, it has become apparent that the nineteenth-century industrial model has finally been found wanting. As models go, it has brought a good deal of wealth underpinned by, what was once, the great resources boom.
In the Central West of New South Wales, Mandy Martin has shifted her attention to the great bulk of the coal-fired power station at Wallerawang. It dominates the landscape as it does in Martin’s painting, Power Station Snow, 2011. The snowy scene is a frequent winter occurrence in parts of the Central West, yet, the towering enigmatic form could well be that of a nuclear power plant in Britain, Europe, Russia, the USA or Japan. When coal is finally put aside as a polluting agent, will the community embrace nuclear power as an alternate energy generator? In the age of global warming, Martin’s work opens up our perception of what drives these massive providers, and what is the real cost of such an enterprise.
John R Walker b. 1957 Sydney NSW Dry Dam Bedervale 2004 oil on canvas 190.5 x 199 cm
Chroma Collection, Orange Regional Gallery
Mandy Martin b. 1952 Adelaide, SA Power Station Snow 2011 pigment and oil on linen 135 x 135 cm Collection of the artist
Noel McKenna b. 1956 Brisbane, QLD Upper Hunter picture 2 2010
synthetic polymer paint on canvas 152.5 x 183 cm
Purchased by Newcastle Art Gallery Foundation with the assitance of Claire Pfister Paradice and David Paradice 2010 Newcastle Art Gallery Collection ÂŠ Noel McKenna / Licensed by Viscopy, 2015
John Gollings b. 1944 Melbourne, VIC Mount Newman Mines Overburden 2010 ink jet print on Hanemuhle Baryta photo rag 74 x 110 cm Collection of the artist
John Gollings b. 1944 Melbourne, VIC Mount Newman Mines Abandoned Hole 2010 ink jet print on Hanemuhle Baryta photo rag 74 x 110 cm Collection of the artist
The best angle to comprehend the scope of an open-cut mining operation is from the air. In 2010, photographer John Gollings (b.1944), embarked on such a project in a series of photographs of open-cut mines in Western Australia. While best known as an architectural photographer of landmark buildings, Gollings also has a long-standing interest in the forms and spatial dynamics of cities. The vast, deeply-pitted mine sites of Western Australia can be seen as the obverse of the soaring cityscapes Gollings documented in Sydney, Melbourne and the Gold Coast. A fascinating aspect of Mount Newman Mines Overburden, 2010, and Mount Newman Mines Abandoned Hole, 2010, apart from the sheer scale of the enterprise and re-ordering of the landscape, is the extraordinary resemblance the coloured, sculpted mounds and the leached walls of the pits have with the palette of contemporary Western Desert artists.
inhabit the country (figures in the landscape who carry the landscape on their bodies). The continent is the Aboriginal artist’s canvas, fertile in natural and spiritual resources that are imperceptible to those with foreign eyes. Paintings about the land are made with reference to the Ancestral Realm or, as it is commonly described today, as The Dreaming. The Dreaming is Aboriginal cosmology; it concerns the genesis of the universe, the creation period ... But The Dreaming is not restricted to the past; rather it is a constant reality that governs, informs and sanctifies people’s lives. It underpins people’s identity and their relationship to the spiritual and physical worlds, and to their traditional lands.’ 3 As Country & Western unfolds, it will be interesting to see these seemingly unassailable sentiments collide with a creative impulse that is unrestricted, courageous and fertile.
These scarred and battered sites from the Pilbara to the Kimberley are the apotheosis of Western Dreaming. The vast wealth generated by the now defunct mineral boom was a high point in an industrial complex that saw little in the land beyond what could be piled profitably into the back of a heavy loader on its way to China. This pioneering perception of landscape is now shifting to a more complex position that reflects a deeper apprehension of the land. The Indigenous notion of Country has begun to steadily infiltrate the national imagination.
fter fire and drought, flooding rain and tropical cyclones are the major weather events to impact on the nation’s consciousness. Forty years ago, on Christmas Eve 1974, a cyclone, named Tracy, tore into the Top End laying waste the city of Darwin. The cyclone was interpreted by Aboriginal elders in the adjacent Kimberley region as a warning by the ancestral Rainbow Serpent Wangurr, to look to their culture and keep it strong. A number of ceremonies were conducted in response to the cyclone that was seen as a verdict on the whole community, Indigenous and non-Indigenous alike. The revival and public performance of the Krill Krill ceremony was an affirmation of cultural integrity, placing an event of The Dreaming in the present tense. In the eyes of Rover Thomas Joolama, (c.1926-1998), the impact of the cyclone was to have far reaching consequences, reaffirming his ceremonial links to Country and reasserting his ownership of the Krill Krill ceremony.
This is an opportune moment to visit the succinct catalogue entry Wally Caruana and Franchesca Cubillo provided for the 2013 Australia exhibition at the Royal Academy in London: ‘Aboriginal art is about the land made from materials gathered from the land, etched into its surfaces as rock engravings or ceremonial ground designs, and painted onto the bodies of the people who
Rover Thomas b. 1926 - 1998 Great Sandy Desert Cyclone Tracy Painting 1994
natural pigments and synthetic polymer paint on canvas
100 x 140 cm Purchased 1994, Museum and Art Gallery of the Northern Territory Collection
Much of this knowledge came to him in a dream following the death of an aunt in a car accident near Turkey Creek on a road flooded in the wake of Cyclone Tracy. Badly injured, she had been flown down the coastline to Perth for treatment, but died en route. A year later, her spirit was to visit Thomas in a dream: It revealed to him the journey it had taken from the western Kimberley to her home in the east, where she described the destruction of Darwin by The Rainbow Serpent, and other sites of cultural importance. The dream became a turning point in the artist’s life.
Elisabeth Cummings is a respected, influential artist with an abiding fascination for the Australian landscape. The scope and quality of her work has finally been realised late in the artist’s career. The hard-won fluency of her brush-marks carry sensitivity and feeling that instil the works with a quiet sense of authority. Paradoxically, this authenticity allows the semi-abstract imagery to be interpreted from multiple perspectives, depending on the equilibrium of the viewer. In After the Wet Elcho Island, 2004, the cursive line, the vibrant colour scheme of yellows, greys and pale ochre, and the rich surface textures all animate the pictureplane, affirming Cummings’ grasp of the experience. The large-scale diptych was the culmination of a visit with a group of artists to Elcho Island off the coast of Arnhem Land in 2002, where they explored the landscape and met with local Indigenous artists: ‘The area was rich and dense with pandanus and ferns’ says Cummings ‘and I was particularly struck by the beauty of the large ochrecoloured puddles. The light was strong and I made many studies.’ 4 In its essence, it is the artist’s intense probing of landscape in all its complexity that underpins the substance in Cummings’ painting.
Apart from Rover Thomas’ magisterial Cyclone Tracy, 1991, held in the National Gallery, Canberra, another significant work painted a few years later, Cyclone Tracy Painting, 1994, is also symbolically instilled with the drama of the calamitous event. According to staff at the Museum and Art Gallery of the Northern Territory in Darwin, locals revere the work and question its whereabouts when not on display. Like its predecessor, the painting’s power is generated by a reduction of elements and the limited palette of pigments - red and yellow, black and white. Peering into the depths of the work, one senses the artist’s expressive intent – the power of the cyclone is reflected in an ominous black form set loose within the canvas dominating all elements in its vicinity.
An artist, whose work has a deep affinity with the landscape of the tropical north, is Townsville-based Shane Fitzgerald, (b.1973). In his idiosyncratic practice, Fitzgerald deploys the traditional photographic method of single-frame composition. The abstracted photo images from the Peripheral Series, 2002, evoke the tropical hues and ambiance of Australia’s deep north. As Sue Smith pointed out: ‘His (works) remind us in a new way of the old insight that nature is not a term that excludes us: to experience it is to understand ourselves.’ 5
Elisabeth Cummings b. 1934 Brisbane, QLD After the Wet Elcho Island 2004 oil on canvas 175 x 250 cm (diptych)
Chroma Collection, Orange Regional Gallery ÂŠ Elisabeth Cummings / Licensed by Viscopy, 2015
In Daintree, 2002, a large-scale photo image of shimmering intensity, there is a sense the tropical atmosphere is about to erupt in a thunderous outpouring of monsoonal rains. The work is akin to an emotional barometer that reflects the sense of torpor one experiences in the Torrid Zone, north of Capricorn. There is a feeling we are peering into a mysterious realm outside our immediate comprehension. A luminous, unworldly light amplifies the mystery. Angus Nivison (b.1953), is an artist who grew up in granite country near Walcha in the New England region of New South Wales. The property goes back generations to 1839, when his Scottish antecedents forged a foothold in the region. The terrain, the elements and the seasons all remain the cornerstone of Nivison’s art. While the landscape motif is significant to the artist, he is never beholden to it, as Nivison explains: ‘I am not a painter of scenes or views, in fact I tend to be a painter of the internal landscape, painter of emotion and the human condition. I lean toward the abstract rather than the literal, although my work always has its roots in landscape because it’s where I have always lived.’ 6 Rain charges Nivison both physically and emotionally. Whether it arrives after years of drought or appears in tune with the seasons, there is an underlying spiritual dimension to the event. Rain renews hope bringing life to exhausted fields. The panoramic format of Late Twentieth Century Landscape: Summer Rain, 1998, adds to the lyric sense of buoyancy the work evokes. The drenched lands and distant clouds are seen through a curtain of vertical lines that overlay a finely-meshed grid reminiscent of rarrk, the cross hatching technique deployed by artists in Arnhem Land. The tight hues of pale washed-out greys, reds, pinks and white convey an optimistic tone: A good season lies ahead.
Shane Fitzgerald b. 1973 Hobart, TAS Daintree 2002 Duraflex print 127 x 180 cm
AP: Collection of Sir Elton John 1/1: Private collection, Brisbane
Angus Nivison b. 1953 Walcha, NSW Late Twentieth Century Landscape: Summer Rain 1998 synthetic polymer paint on canvas 200 x 320.6 cm (diptych)
Gift of Mark Gianoutsos through the Australian Governmentâ€™s Cultural Gifts Program 2011 Newcastle Art Gallery Collection
ne of the last major paintings to leave the studio of John Peart (1946-2014), before his untimely death at Wedderburn was Red Hills, 1983-2013. It was inspired by a visit to the Kimberley with a group of artists sponsored by The Australian Wildlife Conservancy. Red Hills exemplified Peart’s commitment to experimentation relishing what his close friend Elisabeth Cummings described as, ‘his unexpected surfaces and surprising juxtapositions.’ As he often did, Peart has worked over an underlying painting that provided a kind of calligraphic grid to further carry his train of thought. The rhythm of red ochre forms rising from the cool tones of the underlying ground create an intriguing spatial dynamic, where colour, structure and shape align, shifting the viewer through illusionary space into a metaphysical zone.
Julie Harris (b.1953), is an artist who has looked closely into the Australian landscape with a probing intelligence. It is here the artist finds inspiration establishing a mental or psychological platform to launch into abstract space. ‘Landscape has always been integral to my painting not in the traditional Western sense, but as a catalyst to inform the work. I find abstraction intellectually stimulating. The search to make a single image out of apparent chaos and to achieve some sort of spatial logic remains a challenge. I like the idea that one can have a continual space, not one that is bound and finite.’8 In Way out West, 2008, the artist has harnessed the sense of extended space in the flow of the paint. The colours depict the vivid atmosphere of the Australian desert landscape. The panoramic triptych encompasses a myriad of complex detail that animate these outback spaces. Further to this, the artist recently discussed her working method: ‘The process is hugely physical and more like a performance: Paintings are worked horizontally and vertically taken back and forth from the studio depending on the strength of the sunlight, the humidity and temperature. The title of the work refers to an Australian band, Way out West, led by Peter Knight, which I listen to whilst I painted the work.’ 9 Harris’ painting is, in effect, an environmental performance piece; a poetic apprehension of the world through paint.
In Red Hills, Peart has not attempted to match the splendour of the natural environment. He always felt that a work of art in some ways had to transcend its surroundings. To achieve this end, the artist must have the courage, as Daniel Thomas pointed out: ‘To push towards extremes and to eliminate irrelevance.’ In the exhibition catalogue that accompanied Peart’s survey exhibition in 2004, the artist explained to Geoffrey Legge his abiding interest in Eastern philosophy that would give a sense of direction and purpose to his art. ‘In some traditions of Indian philosophy, the foundation of existence is visualised as a screen onto which is projected the mental and physical kaleidoscope of life. If this screen or ground of awareness is brought more into the foreground, one becomes less the victim of circumstances and more identified with the force behind appearances... if I allow the ground to play a dynamic role in creating forms, I can eliminate what is unnecessary and retain the essential. In this way, shapes are clarified and focused as the ground grows in scope and power.’ 7
Julie Harris b. 1953 Sydney, NSW Way out West 2008
synthetic polymer paint on polyester 160 x 198 cm (triptych)
Collection of the artist and The Hughes Gallery
John Peart b. 1946 - 2013, Brisbane, QLD Red Hills 1983 - 2013
oil on synthetic polymer paint on canvas 169 x 330 cm Private collection
Joanna Logue (b.1964), has lived and worked for the past two decades at Oberon in the New South Wales Central West. Her work exudes a stark, enigmatic quality inspired by landscape fragments often seen not far from her studio. The tight tonal range, along with the paring back of forms creates elusive imagery, dreamlike in appearance – always suggestive, never descriptive. In recent times, Logue has been inspired by the monumental presence of the great wooden viaduct that rises from, and traverses the Murrumbidgee River flood plain at Gundagai in southern New South Wales. Bridge – Gundagai, 2014, is the artist’s spirited response. The historic ironbark structure which dates back to the 1860s now stands dilapidated and redundant. It was built as a major enterprise twenty years after the subjugation of the Wiradjuri nation to secure a safe transport link over the flood plain between major commercial hubs. In recent correspondence, Logue described the visual and symbolic appeal of the structure: ‘The spectacular latticework and wooden trusses present strong geometric forms against the field and surrounding hills. On a formal level I have used this skeletal bridge motif as a device to build a scaffold within the picture plane, imposing its repetitive stark lines and shapes onto and within a painterly and expressive rendering of the Australian bush. Conceptually, I am interested in the resilience of the landscape and how these dilapidated bridges symbolise the powerful yet sometimes ephemeral nature of man’s imprint on the environment.’ 10
Joanna Logue b. 1964 Scone, NSW Bridge - Gundagai 2014
synthetic polymer paint on linen 76 x 214 cm Collection of the artist
The rhythms and textures of Australia’s Far North remain a constant source of inspiration for Cairns-based artist Claudine Marzik (b. 1957). Having migrated from Switzerland in 1989, Marzik was overwhelmed by the exuberant flora rising from a tropical landscape drenched in monsoonal rains. In a similar vein to Joanna Logue, Marzik reaches deep into her emotional reserves to construct images that suggest states of mind – a personal, expressive vision as Ingrid Hoffmann observed: ‘The integrity residing in Marzik’s spare, layered paintings comes out of time spent discerning the morphology of plants and their distilled colour, their intricate prickliness and smooth shapes, their grace and vulnerability.’ 11 Marzik’s painting, Seed to Seed 16, 2012, is an austere multi-layered work that encourages the viewer to look further into the innate textures, forms and structures of the natural world.
Claudine Marzik b. 1957 Switzerland Seed to Seed 16 2012
synthetic polymer paint on canvas 213 x 177 cm Collection of the artist Photo: Michael Marzik
As the artist recalls: ‘In 2002 the National Portrait Gallery commissioned me to paint a portrait of Clifford... Using my own photos for reference, I placed Clifford in the centre, painting my response to his presence rather than to his appearance. He was an incandescent and charismatic man. Around him I placed items that were familiar and important to him – such as his relatives, sites related to his Dreamings and his traditional weapons spear, woomera, shield and boomerang.’ 13
he cross-cultural collaboration Tim Johnson (b.1947), enjoyed with the founding masters of the Papunya Tula painting movement in Central Australia demonstrated to the artist that art and life, for Aboriginal people are one. By the time Johnson began visiting Papunya in the 1980s, the Western Desert painting movement from Kintore, Yuendumu, Utopia, Balgo and as far west as the East Kimberley, along with counterparts in Arnhem Land, had infiltrated the national imagination, and was by then firmly entrenched in the Australian art scene. As Patrick McCaughey pointed out: ‘The art of the Western Desert, Arnhem Land and the Kimberley became the face of Australia.’ 12 During Tim Johnson’s visits to Papunya, the former performance artist was invited by his Aboriginal friends to paint sections of certain works and assist with the task of dotting. This led to approximately thirty collaborations over the next twenty years. The collaborations eventually led to the use of dots in his own paintings, and the notion of narrative or mapping as a driving pictorial force behind the work. Artists Clifford Possum Tjapaltjarri, and Michael Nelson Tjakamarra, along with other senior figures gave Johnson the go-ahead to borrow Aboriginal designs on the proviso that the custodianship of the story remain with its Aboriginal owner. Through long interactions with Indigenous artists, Johnson began to grasp the deep significance of Country along with the custodianship of sacred places. This empathy is evident in the artist’s portrait of his friend, Clifford Possum Tjapaltjarri, 2002.
Tim Johnson b.1947 Sydney, NSW Clifford Possum Tjapaltjarri 2002
oil and synthetic polymer paint on canvas 152.5 x 114.8 cm
Collection: National Portrait Gallery, Canberra Commissioned with funds from the Basil Bressler Bequest 2002
Over time, the artist began to form a means of communicating his sense of Country as in Faraway, 2013.14 Again, the artist recalls the experience: ‘Faraway is a recent painting where I used dots over a multicoloured background. This is something I also learnt at Papunya and was encouraged to do provided that I didn’t attempt Aboriginal designs which were sacred and belonged to specific custodians. Faraway is a landscape invoking the Australian desert and its inhabitants as well as referencing Faraway Bay in the Kimberley. It uses some detailed imagery but also includes my own mark making in a style influenced by the youngest members of my own family. It also incorporates stencils, stamps and imagery transcribed from a number of sources including photos from Papunya, Tibetan Buddhist iconography and Chinese embroidery.’ 15 What we begin to see in Tim Johnson’s oeuvre are subtle crosscultural paintings that can be viewed as portals into a realm where art and life are indivisible.
Tim Johnson b.1947 Sydney, NSW Faraway 2013
synthetic polymer paint on linen 150 x 120 cm
Winner of Paddington Art Prize 2013 Collection of Simon Chan
The career of Idris Murphy (b.1949), has coincided with the reaffirmation of landscape painting as the defining genre in Australian art. Like Tim Johnson, Murphy had witnessed the Papunya Tula painting movement along with other Western Desert initiatives transform the perception of landscape painting in Australia, re-invigorating what was fast becoming a worn-out spectacle. Along with contemporary Imants Tillers, Murphy was also strongly affected by the paintings of New Zealand artist, Colin McCahon, (1919-1987). It was a profound body of work that traced the isolated artist’s inner struggle writ large against a stark, pared-back vision of the New Zealand landscape. As Glen Barkley observed in the catalogue of Idris Murphy’s survey exhibition: ‘McCahon’s work like Indigenous painting is a source of reflection and inspiration for Murphy. McCahon reclaimed the power of the spirit and conjured it into contemporary painting in a way that very few others have.’ 16 Fusing the late Western initiatives of McCahon with the Indigenous affirmation of The Dreaming, Murphy conceived a painterly means of transmitting his emotional response to landscape. This was epitomised in Homage to Ginger Riley, 2009. Unlike the Indigenous artist’s spiritual connection with Country, Murphy has had to balance a secular Western perspective to negotiate a fruitful arena in which to work. A recent painting, Kimberley Coast, 2013, demonstrates Murphy’s poetic intent. Confronted with the dramatic landscape about him, the artist has distilled the experience in an arresting drama of saturated pigments and highly-modified forms. Idris Murphy b. 1949 Sydney, NSW Kimberley Coast 2013
synthetic polymer paint on board 120 x 110 cm Private collection
inger Riley Munduwalawala (c.1937-2002), was referred to by artist David Larwill, as ‘the boss of colour’. One look at his work confirms the fact that Ginger’s sense of colour, light, form and space is unique. On first encountering Garimala The Rainbow Serpent, 1990, on the storage racks at the Museum and Art Gallery of the Northern Territory, I was struck by the imposing scale and mysterious intensity of the painting. It appeared to be the work of a maverick: an artist aware of tradition, yet prepared to work outside its constraints.
As Judith Ryan pointed out: ‘Riley’s strong sense of identity and place, of knowing where he belonged and where he came from – coastal salt water, not inland fresh water – provided an anchor or still point of certainty to which he always returned in his mind ... once he took up the brush, he did not deviate from his deep-rootedness in his Mother Country, the area around the Four Arches of geographical formation about forty-five kilometres inland from the Gulf of Carpentaria on the Limmen Bight River.’ 17
Ginger Riley was a senior figure in the Ngukurr community of artists near the Roper River on the southeast edge of Arnhem Land that, among others, include Gertie Huddleston and Angelina George. Riley initially resolved to become an artist following a meeting with the great Aranda watercolourist Albert Namatjira in the mid-1950s, whilst on his travels working as a stockman. As Riley recalled, ‘I saw Namatijira painting his colour country.’ This notion of re-imagining Country through colour would have to wait a further three decades, until the artist was given access to acrylic paint.
Ginger Riley Munduwalawala’s art is largely the product of a soaring imagination grounded in the physical reality of a site with its deep ancestral associations. His compelling, adventurous style reinvigorated the concept of painting Country.
Ginger Riley Munduwalawala originated from the coastal salt water country of the Mara people. He was born on a hilltop not far from where Garimala, the powerful snake ancestor, is ever present. The site was in Country called Guluru, eight kilometres from Riley’s home station, Maria Lagoon, by the Limmen Bight River.
Idris Murphy b. 1949 Sydney, NSW Homage to Ginger Riley 2009
synthetic polymer paint and collage on board 120 x 120 cm Private collection
Ginger Riley Munduwalawala b. c. 1937 - 2002, Marra Country, South East Arnhem Land Garimala the Rainbow Serpent 1990 synthetic polymer paint on linen 220 x 220 cm
Purchased 1994, Museum and Art Gallery of the Northern Territory Collection Image courtesy of the Estate of Ginger Riley and the Alcaston Gallery, Melbourne
Gertie Huddleston (1933-2014), was another significant artist with a distinct visual language to emerge from the Ngukurr community. Gertie started painting in 1993, at the age of 60, six years after Ginger Riley’s first canvases had captured audience’s attention. In a sense, Ginger had paved the way giving Gertie ‘permission’ to paint her distinctive inter-cultural narratives. To fully appreciate Gertie Huddleston as an artist, one needs to look closely at her origins. She was a practising Christian who also maintained traditional beliefs and knowledge systems. She was born at the site of the original Roper River Mission, known today as Ngukurr. It was established by the Church Missionary Society in 1908, providing refuge for Aboriginal people who had been forcibly displaced from their Country as a result of pastoral incursions and government directives. 18 Growing up at the mission, Gertie attended school morning and evening, learning needlework, arithmetic, spelling and drawing, while tending to the garden during the day. Over time, the garden expanded, supporting the mission in fruit and vegetables. The garden in the artist’s paintings reflect an underlying sense of order: a vision of plenty. This concept of a garden of Eden arose from her Christian beliefs, which, in turn, coalesced with her apprehension of Country as a prolific resource of bush tucker and medicine.
Gertie Huddleston b. 1933 - 2014 Mara, Ngukurr, Gulf region Different landcapes around Ngukurr 1996 synthetic polymer paint on canvas 122 x 199 cm
Purchased 1997, Museum and Art Gallery of the Northern Territory Collection
Different landscapes around Ngukurr, 1996, is an intriguing example of the various landscapes that were of interest to the artist. Despite its title, the multi-panelled painting represents discrete landscapes viewed from bus windows, aeroplane seats and also country well-known to her around Ngukurr. When the Museum and Art Gallery of the Northern Territory acquired the work for its collection, Gertie discussed aspects of it with curator Margie West. In the bottom panel, second from the left, is the vegetable garden she used to tend at the Roper River Mission. The next panel to the right depicts the salt water and rocky escarpments of the Oenpelli region, a site Gertie had flown over many times. As she explained: ‘Those rocks, him, Oenpelli area. I been to Oenpelli area plenty times. I like desert country too you know I been travelling by bus. I see red sand (3rd top right panel), and Lake Eyre. I come past there by train – too big too wide, couldn’t see other side. You look at that mob, green grass, like spinifex with flowers in between and trees and hills. You can see. Lovely. But those spinifex! Western Australia is big, biiiiig!’ 19
Near Ruined City is a beautifully expressive work sustained by a rhythm of loose brush strokes and translucent hues that point to a creative, meditative state – somewhere between spirit and place. It was in George’s resolution of internal conflicts – religion and ritual, personal and the traditional that the artist seized upon an acute state of awareness. As Rothwell notes: ‘hence the precise all seeing quality of her eye. Hence too, the way the viewer is invited to share her own elevated perspective on the world, to look down, and see the many different faces of the country in all their contradictory, interwoven force.’ 21 What sets Angelina George’s vision apart is her sense of wonder at the land she beholds, and the means to impart that experience of landscape with all its sacred signifiers and emotive life-force. This is work of grace and substance.
Angelina George (b.1937), is the youngest of five sisters known collectively as the Joshua sisters. Gertie Huddleston was the eldest: all were to become artists. When I first encountered Near Ruined City, 2007, at the Museum and Art Gallery of the Northern Territory I was taken by the fusion of panoramic landscape elements glowing in an opalescent light. In 2007, Near Ruined City won the Telstra National Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Art Award. It was part of a series of paintings that brought the artist to national attention, demonstrating the hard-won artistic freedom she had achieved. As Nicolas Rothwell pointed out: ‘She is deeply embedded in a cultural tradition – from which she draws her strength and from which she departs with utmost force.’ 20
Angelina George b. 1937 - 2015 Yungul Mangi Near Ruined City 2007
synthetic polymer paint on canvas 160 x 200 cm
Purchased 2008, Museum & Art Gallery Northern Territory Collection Telstra National Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Art Award winning painting
elancholia has a significant niche in the reimagined post-bicentennial landscape of our times. The country’s forced acquisition and transformation was marked by brutal displacement and dispossession. Without going into every known incident and location, suffice it to say, that several potent images from a disparate group of artists give pause to reflect on a dark aspect of the national psyche.
After a full life as a stockman in the East Kimberley, Paddy Bedford (1922-2007), a Gija elder and senior lawman took up painting. In 1998, Bedford or Goowoomji, as he was known, along with senior lawman Hector Jandany, and Melbourne gallerist and advisor, Tony Oliver, formed the Jirrawun Aboriginal Art Corporation. Jirrawun meaning ‘all in one’ represented the driving vision of the artists’ collective, expressing their culture and laws, while securing economic independence. As Marcia Langton noted: ‘Goowoomji was observant of traditional laws working in abbreviated signs and codes that refer obliquely to sacred narratives and hidden histories. He emerged as a master of this cryptic, yet, powerful style of painting.’22 Earlier, Bedford had witnessed this style of painting in the canvases of Rover Thomas, who had spent the last thirty years of his life living at Warmun in the East Kimberley.
Paddy Bedford b. c. 1922 - 2007 Gija Dingo Dreaming 2001
ochre and pigment with acrylic binder on Belgian linen 150 x 180 cm The Corrigan Collection
The story of the Bedford Downs Massacre had a profound impact on the Gija people and in particular, Paddy Bedford. Marcia Langton takes up the story: ‘Goowoomji was born at Bedford Downs into a world of violence. A couple of years before his birth, a group of his Gija relatives had been murdered by strychnine poisoning in retaliation for the killing of one bullock near Mount King, an Emu Dreaming place to the west of the homestead.’ 23 An extraordinary event that followed the massacre by the then station manager, Paddy Quilty, added to Goowoomji’s bitter memory of the atrocity. The story goes, that when the artist was born, Paddy Quilty, as was the custom on remote stations, bestowed his name on the newborn child. Seventy-nine years later, Paddy Bedford felt it was time to tell a wider audience the story of the Bedford Downs Massacre, and expose the barbaric cruelty of men like Quilty. Combining innovative stage-craft with a Joonba song, historic references and dance ritual, the re-enactment of the massacre, Fire Fire Burning Bright, reached the Melbourne International Festival in 2002. One of Bedford’s works painted for the project, Bedford Downs Massacre, 2001, acknowledged the ancestral spirits that witnessed the horrific event. In the lefthand panel of the canvas, the two small red ochre circles represent the two girls who hid in the Spinifex, not far from the massacre site. Their eye-witness account was passed down through the Giji people.
Paddy Bedford b. c. 1922 - 2007 Gija Bedford Downs Massacre 2001
ochre and pigment with acrylic binders on Belgian Linen 150 x 180 cm The Corrigan Collection
To the south in Tasmania, photographer Ricky Maynard (b.1953), has largely focused his talent and energy on projects that deal with the Aboriginal islander’s deep sense of loss and dispossession. In discussing his acclaimed touring exhibition in 2005, Portrait of a Distant Land, Maynard emphasised the personal nature of the project: ‘This (project) proves I’m here. The very fact that these marks are here proves that – you know I exist too. I exist today and I am a Tasmanian black man standing on blackfella country; Aboriginal country.’ 24 Ricky Maynard’s black and white photographs in Portrait of a Distant Land, transport the viewer to sites of past injustices, where the Palawa of Tasmania were forcibly taken from the mainland and sent into exile. In The Healing Garden, Wybalenna, Flinders Island, Tasmania, 2005, Maynard has composed a poignant image steeped in an aura of bereavement. The picket fence surrounding a copse of trees stands as a memorial to a massacre that took place there after a forced evacuation from the mainland. These works from the series are more than a mere documentation of a site. As Maynard asserted, they are the example of co-authorship where places and stories have been pointed out and recalled by people close to the event. The collaborative nature of the photographer’s process acts as a catalyst to re-invigorate landscapes scarred by past injustices.
Ricky Maynard b. 1953 Launceston, TAS The Healing Garden, Wybalenna, Flinders Island, Tasmania 2005 from the series, Portrait of a Distant Land, 2005 black and white silver gelatin print 34 x 52 cm ÂŠ Ricky Maynard Courtesy of the artist and Stills Gallery, Sydney
Ricky Maynard b. 1953 Launceston, TAS The Spit 2005
from the series, Portrait of a Distant Land, 2005 black and white silver gelatin print 42 x 50.5 cm ÂŠ Ricky Maynard Courtesy of the artist and Stills Gallery, Sydney
Ricky Maynard b. 1953 Launceston, TAS Vansittart Island, Bass Strait, Tasmania 2005 from the series, Portrait of a Distant Land, 2005 black and white silver gelatin print 34 x 52 cm ÂŠ Ricky Maynard Courtesy of the artist and Stills Gallery, Sydney
Ricky Maynard b. 1953 Launceston, TAS Broken Heart 2005
from the series, Portrait of a Distant Land, 2005 black and white silver gelatin print 40.5 x 40.5 cm ÂŠ Ricky Maynard Courtesy of the artist and Stills Gallery, Sydney
Back on the mainland, Jason Benjamin (b.1973), has spent a good deal of the past decade traversing terrain between the Hay Plain and the Monaro in southern New South Wales. In time, he became acutely aware of the countryâ€™s condition, absorbing its nuances and history. The region held a dark fascination for the artist. The landscape he would draw and paint once belonged to the Wiradjuri nation. It was highly contested terrain; from the 1840s, battles were fought by settlers who had no desire to co-exist with the original custodians. Confronted by the invaders superior weaponry, the Wiradjuri were defeated. The industrial clock began ticking. Exploitation began in earnest. What were once abundant grasslands and river systems were drastically changed forever. The systematic removal of the great red gum forests would exacerbate dry-land salinity: all this in the space of a few generations. This sad overlay of recent historic events had left the land of the Wiradjuri in a forlorn state by the time Benjamin began his forays into the region. Post History, 2012, is a testament to the artistâ€™s intelligent reading of the land. It can be viewed as a concentrated metaphysical space that harbours an acute sensibility. It is a foreboding image, imbued with a sense of anxiety â€“ a moving meditation on our presence in the landscape and its consequences.
Jason Benjamin b. 1971 Richmond, VIC Post History 2012 oil on linen 180 x 180 cm
Collection of the artist
Jason Benjamin b. 1971 Richmond, VIC Ghosts of Australian History #19 2012 graphite on paper 30 x 25 cm
Collection of the artist
Jason Benjamin b. 1971 Richmond, VIC Ghosts of Australian History #2 2012 graphite on paper 25 x 25 cm Private collection
he question of identity is an inescapable fact of life. How do we come to terms with the environment and culture we inhabit? It remains an ever present conundrum: Where do we come from? Who are we? Where are we going? One of the great artists of the late 20th century, Emily Kame Kngwarreye (c. 1910-1996), was born in country around Alhalkere, on the north west boundary of Utopia. This region formed the contours of her personality and gave rise to imagery of singular power and authority. Her name Kame, (Kam), comes from the seeds and flowers of the pencil yam plant. This is her Dreaming, her connection to the beginnings of time. The aura surrounding Emily’s work had much to do with the artist’s innate spirituality, creative energy and courageous innovation. The concepts of Country and Dreaming in her work were ever-present throughout the stylistic variations in her career, culminating in the Utopia Panels, 1996. The vertical canvases have connections to linear markings called arlkeny which form the basis of the body painting for Awelye ceremonies. The panels collude with Emily’s history of body painting and, on a formal level, have been interpreted as an intersection of abstraction and tradition. Pundits continue to speculate on the influence (if any) high modernism, particularly abstract expressionism had on Emily’s late works that were painted on the desert floor at Utopia. Emily Kame Kngwarreye’s work embodies the elegant simplicity of a culture capable of apprehending the metaphysical or spiritual domain that exists beyond the appearance of things. Emily’s identity was bound up in her ancestral origins. The artist’s towering body of work is a symbol of the need to nurture and celebrate, in her words, ‘the whole lot.’
Emily Kame Kngwarreye b. c. 1910 - 1996 Anmatyerre Utopia Panels 1996
synthetic polymer paint on canvas 263 x 87.4 cm [each panel]
Commissioned 1996 with funds from the Andrew Thyne Reid Charitable Trust through and with the assistance of the Queensland Art Gallery Foundation Collection: Queensland Art Gallery © Emily Kame Kngwarreye / Licensed by Viscopy, 2015. Photos: Natasha Harth
Jo Bertini (b.1964), has for the past decade been the official expedition artist on the Australian Desert Expeditions that carries out scientific research in remote and inaccessible desert regions of inland Australia. With camels leading the way, the slow pace of these long journeys can alter perceptions of time and space. As the sole female on these expeditions of six to twelve weeks, Bertini began to also identify with the mystery of the frontier woman: a marginal figure rarely seen in the annals of landscape painting of inland Australia. On returning to her studio at Peelwood, in Central Western New South Wales, the artist would refer to her journals and sketchbooks. The gouaches and drawings were the artist’s personal map of country – swales, rocky ridges, precious waterholes and ever changing skies: evidence of places and experiences that would bring the artist abruptly onto the periphery of the Indigenous perception of country. The paintings produced from the studies are a genuine testament to Bertini’s connection to place, while her female portraits could be described as ‘a cry of rage, a scream of dissent.’ 25
Jo Bertini b. 1964 Manly, NSW Horsewoman 2013 oil on canvas 92 x 84 cm
Collection of the artist
Recently, the artist described the ‘history’ surrounding works such as Horsewoman, 2013. ‘These paintings act as a reinvented portraiture representing the relationship women have with these landscapes and act as a kind of homage to the untold, unrecognised, female narratives that have been ignored or unrecorded … The bone skulls act as reworking of the historical portrait genre of the ‘Explorer as Hero’ archetype and as a mask they become a metaphor for a way of seeing and being, looking at landscape through female eyes.’ 26 While serious of intent, these portraits are instilled with Bertini’s vitality and humour. This is a beguiling entrypoint into the artist’s distinctive oeuvre revealing a timely body of work characterising the forgotten role of women in the Australian desert story.
Jo Bertini b. 1964 Manly, NSW Through Desert Eyes 2014 oil on canvas 92 x 92 cm
Collection of the artist
The New Zealand-born artist Euan Macleod (b.1956), bestrides the Tasman Sea with one foot firmly planted in the rain-sodden South Island reaches of his homeland, while the other foot treads carefully in the parched inland terrain of his adopted country. Macleod, with his family arrived in Sydney from Christchurch in 1981. The artistâ€™s sustained investigation of the Australian landscape began in 1991 pursuing figure and ground studies that would set him on a series of creative wanderings through the damaged backblocks of Central Western New South Wales, the massif of the Macdonnell Ranges near Alice Springs and out along the flank of the Flinders Ranges in South Australia. While grappling with the extreme terrain of his adopted country, Macleod was constantly drawn back to the muted waterways and dark headlands of New Zealandâ€™s South Island. Not feeling he identified solely with any one location, the artist devised a curious device. The idea of looking at one particular landscape while contemplating another took hold of Macleod to great effect when he began painting in desert regions around Alice Springs in 2006, and the Flinders Ranges in 2008.
Euan Macleod b. 1956 Christchurch N.Z. Present 2008
oil and synthetic polymer paint on canvas 124 x 100 cm Tweed Regional Gallery Collection
In the lead up to the artist’s survey exhibition Surface Tension in 2010, he explained his keenly-felt shift in perception and relationship to place: ‘Being separate from the landscape … gives you a sense of freedom. I think Nolan was very clever at that. He took one look then turned his back on the landscape. He felt too limited gazing at it – he needed that distance. That did help me to see the landscape in a way. Ever since, the boats and the deserts are a way of dealing with that duality of where do you live. That helped me to see New Zealand a bit more. I needed to be distant from it – bringing New Zealand over here, as in Holding Turtle, 2008, and, over here, back to New Zealand in Present, 2008. I don’t quite know where it all ends.’ 27 As well, Macleod was inspired by the works of Indigenous artists he had encountered in Central Australia. He began to think of landscape not as a specific place, but more so, as a mental space. In other words, the artist was searching for a personal emotive language in his landscape compositions that carried universal meaning with the power to extend the genre.
Euan Macleod b. 1956 Christchurch N.Z. Holding Turtle 2008
oil and synthetic polymer paint on canvas 124 x 100 cm Tweed Regional Gallery Collection
Landscape photographer Andrew Merry (b.1967), has created a lens based series, Xeno Eucalyptus, 2009, that questions the historic perceptions of landscape by re-framing British colonial visions of the Antipodes. Apart from Merry’s cultural commentary, the series also has a personal dimension for the artist. While he grew up in Australia, he was born in England, consequently these trans-national landscapes express the duality of his identity. The result is a multi-faceted hybrid landscape with subtle interconnections. In Xeno Eucalyptus #4, 2009, the artist appropriated a formal English garden and combined it with a stand of eucalypts from the Blue Mountains. A similar stand was dismissed as unsightly by Charles Darwin in an 1836 diary entry: ‘The bark of some of the eucalypti falls annually or hang dead in long strips which swing about with the wind and give to the woods a desolate untidy appearance.’ The ‘untidy’ eucalyptus forest is the antithesis of the formal English garden with its controlled forms and spaces. In this series, Merry has brought into focus his personal identity dilemma and, in doing so, has created a portal for all to examine the limitations of a prescribed vision of landscape.
Andrew Merry b. 1967 Newcastle upon Tyne, England Xeno Eucalyptus #4 2009 archival pigment print 138 x 107 cm Collection of the artist
At the onset of the new millennium, Tracey Moffatt (b.1960), began the creation of a body of work inspired by a dream. The Invocations Series, 2000, was first conceived in the artist’s New York studio. Sets and models were constructed for each scenario. The resultant tableau was then photographed. The next stage would involve working with a master printer to silkscreen each of the thirteen works, creating subtle textured layers. By using up to twenty-five silk screens per image, the final works were imbued with a dream-like quality and a seductive painterly finish. The thirteen images in the series form a disjointed narrative, rising from the realm of the artist’s imagination. Certain works such as Invocations #2, invoke Russell Drysdale’s bleak vision of marginal desert landscapes from the 1940s. Drysdale’s carefully choreographed figures and land-forms, all appearing out of an unworldly light, seem to have a subliminal impact on Tracey Moffatt’s oeuvre. In Invocations #2, 2000, the vaporised desert landscape is animated by the lone female figure rising from the detritus in the lower foreground. The post-apocalyptic tone of the work is heightened by the defunct telegraph pole seen in the form of a crucifix. It is further enhanced by the wounded protagonist gesturing towards a menacing flock of ravens in a wry salute to the master of menace, Alfred Hitchcock.
Tracey Moffatt b.1960 Brisbane, QLD Invocations #2 2000 photo silk screen 146 x 122 cm
Courtesy of the Artist and Roslyn Oxley9 Gallery, Sydney
The atmospheric dreamscape has morphed into a Goyaesque nightmare in Invocations #8, 2000. Suspended in a foggy stew are two witch-like figures, just out of reach from a pair of snarling dogs. While the whole series was constructed from the hallucinatory world of a broken dream, Moffatt herself has said the dream tapped into a meditation on â€˜the intangible nature of power and passion and the will to survive.â€™
Tracey Moffatt b. 1960 Brisbane, QLD Invocations #8 2000 photo silk screen 146 x 122 cm
Courtesy of the Artist and Roslyn Oxley9 Gallery, Sydney
ock formations in the Australian landscape hold immense fascination and significance. Uluru at the heart of the continent has endured since The Dreaming. It is now emerging as a uniting symbol for both black and white Australians. While the implacable presence is known throughout the world, there are many instances of discreet local formations proving to be sites of reflection and reverie for individuals with an affinity for such places.
The silent rocks at Jourama Falls mirror themselves in the water, their image becomes rippled and diffused, their presence remains. They radiate warmth when we swim around them in the drier months; in the wet season they are inaccessible, live their own life, gather energy from the rushing water, recall the wild days of creation.’ 28
Townsville-based artist Anneke Silver (b.1937), has lived and worked in the region since the early 1960s. The effulgent environment with its coastal estuaries, the subtle nuances of the wet and dry tropic zones and the respite of the rainforest are all of immense interest and inspiration for the renowned artist whose body of work reflects the spirit of a curious probing mind. In Rocks at Jourama Falls, 2013, a fine charcoal and ochre drawing, Silver has seized on the tonal interplay of light and form at the water’s edge. In a recent statement the artist described the genesis of the work: ‘Rocks have such presence. They simply are, but mystery and power are held in that ‘being’. It is no wonder they are revered in many spiritual traditions as having special power or ancestral significance. For me they are the essence of earth, of existence, and the mystery and magnificence of creation. You can speculate about their secrets when you sit and draw them in utter silence, and they become your friends. Rocks at Jourama Falls is one of my favourites because it is superimposed over a drawing of an ancient Cretan seal ring depicting a dancing Earth Goddess. It connects the drawing to ancient spirituality.
Anneke Silver b. 1937 Holland Rocks at Jourama Falls 2013
charcoal and natural ochre on paper 110 x 146 cm Collection of the artist Photo: Shane Fitzgerald
William Robinson (b.1936), has evolved a means of apprehending his surroundings through emotions aroused by the physicality of a place. His multidimensional grasp of time and space appear to have given the artist an insight into ‘the wild days of creation’. His investigation of the rainforest hinterland that straddles the Queensland/New South Wales border provided little insight by other artists in the way of an historic pictorial frame of reference. The complex, natural systems and the vagaries of light had not been treated previously in any great depth. In time, Robinson’s rainforest works would combine multiple viewpoints devised from close studies of discreet forest elements. During these encounters, the artist realised everything was moving – the trunks of soaring trees, the broken forest canopy, clouds, the sun, the moon, the stars and the planets. While contemplating the subtle cosmic interconnections, the artist embarked on a deeper understanding of the multidimensional nature of time and space, as he explained: ‘Living in the country everything moves - the seasons, the clouds, nothing is set... Everything is constantly moving ...You begin to realise that you are in a landscape that is really the crust of the earth. It is air and ground. We’re all just spinning through space ....’ 29 As an artist in possession of a great gift and as a man immersed in the Christian tradition, he began to further probe the mystery of life and the question of creation. From the early 1990s, Robinson completed a Creation series of colour lithographs based on the biblical theme. Creation Landscape – Earth and Sea, 1995, is a fine example of the artist conveying his perceived experience of the world and the mysterious forces of creation that made it so. Pushing the boundaries of convention, Robinson has significantly enhanced the Australian landscape tradition.
William Robinson b. 1936 Brisbane, QLD Shaded pool Carnarvon 2008 Oil on canvas 92 x 122 cm
Rockhampton Art Gallery Art Acquisition Fund 2009
William Robinson b. 1936 Brisbane, QLD Creation Landscape - Earth and Sea 1995 colour lithograph Ed. 53/75 40 x 57.5 cm [each sheet x 3] Collection of the artist
The notion of landscape being in a constant state of flux penetrated the imagination of John Olsen (b.1928), early in his career. For decades, since the early 1970s, Olsen has been monitoring the arrival of the NorthWest monsoon and the subsequent Big Wet that ensues, drenching Australia’s Top End. Over a three month period beginning around November, swollen waterways discharge into the Channel Country of Western Queensland and slowly percolate down into the saltencrusted basin of Lake Eyre in South Australia. Olsen first experienced this phenomenon with a group of scientists led by the eminent naturalist Vincent Serventy. Ever since, it has remained an unending source of inspiration. In his apprehension of the Australian landscape, Olsen has acknowledged the initiative of Sidney Nolan, who was the first Australian artist to fly over Lake Eyre in 1947, and successfully capture the vast, emotive scale of the experience. As far as Olsen is concerned, the only way to appreciate the continent’s interior is from the air. In a sense, this reiterates the inexplicable achievements of Indigenous artists from the Central Desert communities who had the pictorial means to grasp the entirety of their environment with feet firmly on the ground. Nevertheless, Olsen would further the western perception of landscape by projecting Nolan’s aerial panoramas into the very fabric of the natural systems that animate the desert floor. The transformation of the desert landscape to places teeming with life has sparked some of Olsen’s finest poetic works. The watercolour, Desert Seedling, 2008-10, is a fine example of the artist’s mastery of variation and movement. Watercolour on paper is a good medium to evoke moisture penetrating the parched ochre soils of the interior. Olsen’s virtuosic handling of line, form and tone animates the myriad of organisms that intermingle in a re-charged desert landscape.
John Olsen b. 1928 Newcastle, NSW Desert Seedling 2008 - 2010 watercolour on paper 159.5 x 121 cm
Gold Coast City Gallery Collection. Gift of the artist under the Cultural Gifts Program, 2012 © John Olsen / Licensed by Viscopy, 2015
A countryman at heart, Olsen has lived most of his life outside the confines of a metropolitan existence. All these places from Dural, the Riverina, Clarendon South Australia, the Blue Mountains, Rydal New South Wales, and recently the Southern Highlands have all reinforced Olsenâ€™s status as an artist firmly committed emotionally and physically to the place he inhabits. Country Life Rydal, 1998, is a fine example of the artist deploying lively forms and a vivid palette to announce the pleasure of life in an environment brimming with incident.
John Olsen b. 1928 Newcastle, NSW Country Life Rydal 1998 oil on canvas 121 x 150.8 cm
Gift of John Olsen 2003, TarraWarra Museum of Art Collection ÂŠ John Olsen / Licensed by Viscopy, 2015
The bucolic atmosphere of Country Life Rydal, provides an interesting counterpoint to the post-industrial landscape environments of Ken Whisson, (b. 1927). During his early years, Whisson was an eager visitor to the salon of John and Sunday Reed at Heidi, on the banks of the Yarra near Melbourne. In this heady milieu, he was impressed by the works of Sidney Nolan, Albert Tucker and Daniel Vassilief. From this surreal, expressionist mix, he would, in time, develop an idiosyncratic style that was an amalgam of dreams and directive experience. After settling in Perugia in 1977, Whisson embarked on a body of work that was largely based on memories of the Australian landscape as in Buildings and Hillside, 10/09/07, 12/01/08, 13/02/08. These dredged-up visions of outer suburban landscapes speak of marginal places littered with the detritus of derelict factories and empty dwellings; caustic sites devoid of identity and purpose. As the ever-expanding urban fringe devours the surrounding country, dystopia prevails.
Ken Whisson b. 1927 Lilydale, VIC Buildings and Hillside 10/09/07, 12/01/08, 13/02/08 oil on mixed linen canvas 95 x 120 cm
Collection of the artist Courtesy of the artist and Niagara Galleries
ocated in the dry tropics, Townsville has long been a vibrant hub of creativity. The region’s artistic identity was forged by distinguished artists that included painters Anneke Silver and Robert Preston and master printmakers Tate Adams and Ron McBurnie. The effect of Townsville’s distinct tropical environment, pioneering history, military presence and its large Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander population, has formed an artistic community loyal to its raffish identity and robust character. In the 1950s and early 60s, Tate Adams (b. 1922), had been deeply involved in the mid-20th century wave of abstract expressionism. His experiments in paintings and linocuts were aimed at wresting a form of primal communication through a spontaneous application of paint or ink. Upon his arriving in Townsville, Adams creative focus was directed towards the production of artists books and limited editions through his Lyre Bird Press. Yet, in time, aspects of his earlier commitment to abstract gestural images would emerge in a suite of miniature wood-engravings.
Tate Adams b. 1922 Ireland Palm Landscape I 1997 wood engraving printed on Arches satine rag paper AP from the artist’s book Tropical Wood Engravings 27 x 28 cm
Mackay Regional Council Collection, Artspace Mackay Photo: Holly Grech-Fitzgerald
Inspired and challenged by the overwhelming tropical landscape, Adams displayed his mastery over a highlydemanding art form in the suite, Palm Landscape, I-IV, 1997. The expressive line and dark, inky tones evoke the experience of standing amidst a grove of palms swirling in a stiff breeze blowing in from the Coral Sea. These fine miniature works convey the beguiling tropical ambiance that so often snares the poetic spirit.
Tate Adams b. 1922 Ireland Palm Landscape II 1997 wood engraving printed on Arches satine rag paper AP from the artistâ€™s book Tropical Wood Engravings 27 x 28 cm
Mackay Regional Council Collection, Artspace Mackay Photo: Holly Grech-Fitzgerald
Tate Adams b. 1922 Ireland Palm Landscape III 1997 wood engraving printed on Arches satine rag paper AP from the artistâ€™s book Tropical Wood Engravings 27 x 28 cm Mackay Regional Council Collection, Artspace Mackay Photo: Holly Grech-Fitzgerald
Tate Adams b. 1922 Ireland Palm Landscape IV 1997 wood engraving printed on Arches satine rag paper AP from the artistâ€™s book Tropical Wood Engravings 27 x 28 cm Mackay Regional Council Collection, Artspace Mackay Photo: Holly Grech-Fitzgerald
The Townsville-based printmaker, Ron McBurnie (b. 1957), has been a close observer of the region’s comic oddities and distinct vernacular attributes. Works that at first may appear naïve are, in fact, imbued with a subtle mastery and a keen sense of art history. Throughout his career, McBurnie has been interested in figuration and narrative content, often with religious and romantic overtones. In 1989, the artist commenced work on an ongoing series of pastoral and romantic landscapes. In Burning the leaves, 1989, the subject is the artist’s immediate environment; the tropical vegetation, the Queenslander house with a man burning leaves. Yet, as Sasha Grishin pointed out: ‘The whole drama of this print involves the smoke dissolving into the clouds with its reference to Samuel Palmer. In this Romantic landscape series, for McBurnie the great challenge was the sense of preservation of purity of medium.’ 30
Ron McBurnie b. 1957 Brisbane, QLD Burning the leaves 1989 from the Romantic series hard ground etching 19 x 23.5 cm edition of 20
Collection of the artist Photo: Holly Grech-Fitzgerald
In the glowing nocturne Under the light of the hill, 1997, McBurnie has focused on the towering presence of Castle Hill, a massive 300 metre high rock formation that looms over the city. As the artist notes: â€˜Each night, spotlights illuminate the face giving it a primordial appearance. The houses ... are typical of the Queenslandstyle of domestic building during the 1930s and 40s. Their inhabitants participate in a typical Queensland barbecue which takes place at night to avoid the intense heat of the day.â€™ 31
Ron McBurnie b. 1957 Brisbane, QLD Under the light of the hill 1977 from the Romantic series hard ground etching and aquatint 50 x 59.5 cm edition of 30 City of Townsville Art Collection Photo: Holly Grech-Fitzgerald
One of the great artistic achievements to emerge out of far north Queensland came from the Torres Strait Islander community of printmakers. Building on a cultural heritage of relief carving, they mastered the art of linocut printmaking. Acclaimed practitioners such as Alick Tipoti, Dennis Nona, Billy Missi, Brian Robinson and emerging artist, Tommy Pau, all deal with contemporary responses to issues of culture and land ownership, handed down through the stories of respected elders.
Brian Robinson b. 1973 Waiben (Thursday Island) Harvest Season 1 2012
linocut printed in black ink from one block 80 x 120 cm edition of 30
Published Djumbunji Press, KickArts Fine Art Printmaking Collection of the artist
Brian Robinson (b.1973), is an artist whose practice includes painting, printmaking, sculpture and design. His art is largely inspired by the tropical marine environment and the people surrounding his birthplace, Waiben (Thursday Island). The motifs interwoven through Robinsonâ€™s prints are derived from the culture, customs, tradition and lifestyles of the Torres Strait Island people as in Harvest Season 1, 2012, a work laden with symbols from the sea and land. In 3 Fishermen and a Lamborghini, 2012, a vein of sardonic humour invests the composition with its disturbing poise. An individual or group tempted by the possession of such capitalist prizes could diminish the islanderâ€™s collective identity, undermining the traditional structures from which they sprang.
Brian Robinson b. 1973 Waiben (Thursday Island) 3 Fishermen and a Lamborghini 2012
linocut printed in black ink from one block on BFK Rives white 300gsm 63.5 x 110 cm edition of 30 Edition printer Carolyn Crain, Collection of the artist
Tommy Pau (b. 1967), is an emerging artist who has recently gained recognition in the Townsville and Cairns arts community. Pau sources his inspiration from the landscape and waterways of his ancestral home, Waiben (Thursday Island). The linocut prints are ingrained with vivid childhood memories. They resemble a kind of Boyâ€™s Own chronicle of island life in the 1970s: a frugal, happy life brimming with invention and meaning, shaped by the rhythm of the moon and tides. The artist outlined the narrative thread of Cuppa Canoe, (corrugated canoe), 2013
Tommy Pau b. 1967 Waiben (Thursday Island) Cuppa Canoe, (corrugated canoe) 2013
linocut printed in black ink from one block 56.5 x 76 cm edition of 10 printed by Elizabeth Hunter Collection of the artist Photo: Shane Fitzgerald
‘We would make canoes out of old or new corrugated iron. We use the canoe to fish in, spear fish, paddle around the mangrove on the king tides and go the dump to look for things we could use to put in our house that we built in the mangroves.’ In Milk Tin Trains, 2013, the artist further explained: ‘We would collect empty milk tins punch a hole at both ends and put a wire through it and fill it with sand and pull it along with a rope. Sometimes we would attach three or four to make long train.’ 32
Tommy Pau b. 1967 Waiben (Thursday Island) Milk Tin Trains 2013
linocut printed in black ink from one block 56.5 x 76 cm edition of 10
Printed by Elizabeth Hunter, collection of the artist Photo: Shane Fitzgerald
Ken Thaiday, (b.1950), is a senior figure from Erub (Darnley Island), located in close proximity to Papua New Guinea. After settling in Cairns to seek better opportunities for is family, Thaiday became a founding member of the Darnley Island Dance Troupe. The artist’s reputation was established following his creation of striking contemporary dance regalia for the celebrated troupe. In Torres Strait Islander culture, masks and headdresses have a pivotal role in ritual life and are seen as devices that encourage a positive relationship with the Supernatural. In his use of new materials and inventive mechanisms, Thaiday is an artist unhindered by strict tradition, yet able to satisfy cultural requirements. Black bamboo Hammerhead Shark headdress (small) 2010, represents a powerful symbol of law and order, associated with the Bomai-Mulu cult. It is worn only by male dancers. The unique feature of the mask and headdress of Ken Thaiday and dance machine of nephew Patrick Thaiday (b.1963), titled Piwi Pukan Wapi Sagul Au Thonar (it is time for Piwi the flying fish to come out to play), 2010, is, that they are articulated - enabling the dancer to activate parts during a performance. Ken Thaiday’s headdresses reveal an ingenious innovator adapting his work to the resources at hand. As curator Susan Jenkins noted: ‘Where once wood, shell, fibre and natural pigment may have been used to bind, construct and decorate, today they are replaced with plywood, plastic piping, nylon fishing line and enamel paint.
Ken Thaiday Snr. b. 1950 Erub (Darnley Island) Black bamboo Hammerhead Shark headdress (small) 2010 bamboo, marine ply, fishing line and Eagle feathers 52 x 43 x 40 cm
Cairns Regional Gallery Collection Purchased with funds from the E Robert Hayles & L Hayes Charitable Trust and the John Christopher Pascoe Memorial Charitable Trust Managed by Perpetual 2010 Photo: Michael Marzik
Patrick Thaiday b. 1963 Erub (Darnley Island) Piwi Pukan Wapi Sagul Au Thonar (it is time for Piwi the flying fish to come out to play) 2010 plywood, synthetic polymer paint, feathers and metal 65 x 70 x 70mm (open) Cairns Regional Gallery Collection Gift of Michael Kershaw through the Cultural Gift Program, 2012 Photo: Michael Marzik
Further to the west in Arnhem Land, recent adaption and collaboration amongst Yolngu artists has yielded significant results. Gunybi Ganambarr and Djirrirr Wunungmurra have been widely admired for their inventive use of found objects and materials discarded by the nearby Rio Tinto bauxite mine and other sites around Yirrkala. Working with unconventional materials – rubber conveyor belts, PVC piping, sheets of masonite and roofing insulation, these gifted artists, while pushing formal boundaries defer to traditional systems. Significantly, these new works have re-vitalised the telling of sacred age-old stories about the land using found objects from the land. Engaging in the energetic spirit of the place, an intriguing collaboration has evolved between Yolngu elder Mulkun Wirrapanda (b.1947), and Melbourne based artist John Wolseley (b.1938). Since his arrival in Australia from England in 1976, Wolseley has traversed the continent from the central Australian deserts, to the ancient forests of Tasmania, and the tidal realms of the island’s far northwest. Curiosity is the driving force behind a poetically-charged body of work that has, over recent decades, involved an informed observation of landscape systems, all evolving and adapting to evershifting circumstances. Wolseley’s recall of the world we inhabit in all its complexity is underpinned by his respect for, and knowledge of, scientific data. The artist’s incomparable drawings, watercolours, prints and installations continue to provide audiences with astute insights into the country’s fragile environment and the resources that sustain us.
It came as no surprise that food would be the underlying theme of Wolseley’s and Wirrapanda’s collaboration. As the eldest and most knowledgeable member of DhudiDjapu clan from Dhuruputjpi, Mulkun felt the younger ones were losing their way when it came to matters of diet: fast food had usurped bush tucker as a means of sustenance. Dietary related illnesses prevailed. As a leading artist and respected elder, Mulkun pointed to an alternative traditional food resource – Rakay (water chestnuts) that grew in fields on the vast floodplains of Arnhem Land. As friendship and mutual respect grew, the two artists hatched a plan to work together on extended field trips during the dry season delving into the vast habitat of the Rakay. The result is a suite of woodcut prints titled The Midawarr Series. The works on display are Wolseley’s Yirriŋaniŋ, Mawuka and Buwakul,33 2013 – and Mulkun’s Rakay # 2, 2013, accompanied by the artist’s bark, Rakay, 2013. The woodblocks are rare Huon Pine slabs found by Wolseley whilst in Tasmania. This discreet series of prints by these two great artists displays a generosity of spirit that re-affirms the value of cross-cultural collaboration. Surveying the quality and scope of the works assembled for Country & Western, what becomes apparent are the often elusive, spiritual connections associated with certain sites. A genuine sense of place goes beyond the contours of physical appearance. This understanding is imbedded in the life and culture of Indigenous artists. While grappling with this concept, their western counterparts have grasped the profundity of country in re-imagining the national landscape. Whilst we move closer to the Indigenous apprehension of country, it will remain forever the unequivocal spiritual and cultural domain of its original custodians. Gavin Wilson
Mulkun Wirrpanda b. 1945 Dhuruputjpi North Eastern Arnhem Land Rakay 2013 natural pigments on bark 156 x 87 cm Collection of the artist
Mulkun Wirrpanda b. 1945 Dhuruputjpi North Eastern Arnhem Land Rakay #2 2013 woodcut from 2 blocks 144 x 100 cm
Printers Gibson Gill & John Wolseley from the Midawarr Series collaborative prints with John Wolseley Collection of the artist
John Wolseley b. 1938 Somerset, England Yirriŋaniŋ, Mawuka and Buwakul 2013 woodcut from 3 blocks 90 x 120 cm
from the Midawarr Series collaborative collection of the artist, Printer John Wolseley © John Wolseley / Licensed by Viscopy, 2015
Endnotes Fox, William L. Playing with Fire, Mandy Martin exhibition catalogue essay, Australian Galleries, Sydney. November 2014. 2 ibid
West, M. As quoted in Bowdler, C. Colour Country: art from Roper River. Wagga Wagga Art Gallery, 2009. pp.50,51.
Rothwell, N. Imagined Country in Colour Country: art from Roper River. Wagga Wagga Art Gallery, 2009. p.79 21 ibid p.81
4 Cummings,E. in Chroma, the Jim Cobb Gift, Bradley Hammond ed. Orange Regional Gallery 2015
Caruana, W. & Cubillo, F. Country: Aboriginal Art, Australia exhibition catalogue, 2013 p.42
Smith, S. Shane Fitzgerald Insights, exhibition catalogue notes, 2002.
Nivison, A. In Angus Nivison: A survey, Tamworth Regional Gallery, exhibition catalogue p.1.
Langton, M. Goowoomji’s World in Paddy Bedford exhibition catalogue, MCA, 2006 p.53 23 ibid Maynard, R. I Exist Today in Australian Aboriginal Art Issue 2, 2009. p.76
Peart, J. John Peart Paintings, 1964-2004. Exhibition catalogue Campbelltown Art Centre, 2004. p. 24.
Harris, J. Julie Harris Survey: 1975-2006. Exhibition catalogue, Hawkesbury Regional Gallery, 2006. p.12.
Gibson, P. Frontiers Jo Bertini. Exhibition catalogue essay. Mars Gallery, Melbourne 2013.
Harris, J. Email correspondence with the author 16 January 2015.
Logue, J. Correspondence with the author 26 January 2015.
Hoffmann, I. Seed to Seed exhibition catalogue essay, KickArts Contemporary Arts, Cairns, 2012.
McCaughey, P. Strange Country: Why Australian Painting Matters. Miegunyah Press Melbourne, 2014, p.19.
Johnson, T. Email correspondence with the author, 19 January, 2015. 13
Tim Johnson’s painting Faraway, 2013, was awarded the Paddington Art Prize for Landscape in 2013. 15 ibid 14
Barkley, G. Missives From the Outdoors: the art of Idris Murphy. Survey exhibition catalogue, Hazelhurst Regional Gallery & Arts Centre. 2008. p.11. 16
Ryan, J. In Colour Country: art from Roper River. Exhibition catalogue, Wagga Wagga Art Gallery, 2009. p.39. 17
Bowdler,C. Colour Country: art from Roper River. Exhibition catalogue Wagga Wagga Art Gallery, 2009, p. 47. 18
Bertini, J. Email correspondence with author, 3 February, 2015.
Macleod, E. Conversation with Gavin Wilson, Surface Tension: the art of Euan Macleod, 1991-2009. Tweed River Art Gallery touring exhibition catalogue, 2010, p.8. 27
Silver, A. Email correspondence with the author, 20 January, 2015.
Robinson, W. Interview with Deborah Hart 13 February 2001 in Darkness & Light: the art of William Robinson ed. Lynne Seear, Queensland Art Gallery. Brisbane, 2001. 29
Grishin, S. Ron McBurnie and the Humanist Tradition in Art, in Metal as Anything. Perc Tucker Regional Gallery, Townsville, 2009. pp.10,12. 31 ibid p.54. 30
Pau, T. Email correspondence with the author, 2 February, 2014.
In email correspondence with the author 26 April, 2015 John Wolseley noted: The print images three plants and a tree trunk from Mulkun Wirrpanda’s Dhudi-Djapu clan country - at Dhuruputjpi, East Arnhem Land. Yirriŋaniŋ - Scarlet Bloodroot - Haemodorum coccineum, used for dying Pandanus fibre for weaving. Mawuka - Ipomoea graminea a climbing plant with important edible tubers. Buwakul - Cayratia maritima whose stems have tubers at intervals as they emerge from the ground and climb the trunks of trees. 33
Acknowledgements Perc Tucker Regional Gallery acknowledges the efforts of numerous individuals and organisations in helping to realise this major exhibition. Firstly our deepest gratitude is extended to our funding partners: Australia Council for the Arts, Glencore, Gordon Darling Foundation and Townsville City Council. Without your support this exhibition would not have been realised. To Gavin Wislon, we recognise and appreciate your expertise in this field, and are proud to partner with you on this major exhibition. Thankyou to those generous organisations, artists and private collectors who have willingly loaned, or assisted in researching and facilitating loans of works for the exhibition. We are deeply grateful to your willingness to be without your treasured artwork for such a long period. Particularly we would like to thank Art Gallery of Ballarat; Joanna Logue; Joe Lederman; John Gollings; Bill Nuttall and Niagara Galleries; TarraWarra Museum of Art; National Portrait Gallery; Stuart Purves and Australian Galleries; Euan Macleod and Susan Jarvis; Jason Benjamin; Penny Broekhizen; Jo Bertini; John F Morrissey; Julie Harris; Randi Linnegar and King Street Gallery on William;
Bruce and Barbara Solomon; Bernard Ryan; Mandy Martin; Newcastle Art Gallery; Orange Regional Gallery; Simon Chan; Patrick Corrigan; Roslyn Oxley9 Gallery; Stills Gallery; Ricky Maynard; Tweed Regional Gallery; Andrew Merry; Anneke Silver; Shane Fitzgerald; Artspace Mackay; Tate Adams; Claudine Marzik; Gold Coast City Gallery; Queensland Art Gallery | Gallery of Modern Art; Rockhampton Art Gallery; Philip Bacon; Ron McBurnie; Tommy Pau; Brian Robinson; Maggy Todd; Cairns Regional Gallery; Will Stubbs Coordinator at Buku-Larrnggay Mulka Art Centre, Yirrkala; Museum and Art Gallery of the Northern Territory. This publication was only made possible thanks to the agreement of all of the participating artists, their representatives and VISCOPY to publish the selected works. Thanks is also extended to those individuals who have assisted in sourcing and/or providing suitable photographs for the publication. We are extremely grateful for the professionalism and assistance of Kerrie Ann Roberts and Ross Brookes from Segue Art. Your professionalism, support and commitment to the success of the national tour are very much appreciated. We thank all the personnel who have played a part in developing the exhibition, from the staff and volunteers of Gallery Services, to everyone involved through Corporate Communications, the Media team, and Property Management.
Venues Perc Tucker Regional Gallery
Mornington Peninsula Regional Gallery
S.H. Ervin Gallery
Orange Regional Gallery
Townsville - QLD 24 July - 20 September 2015
Mornington Peninsula – VIC 13 May - 3 July 2016
Sydney – NSW 30 October - 6 December 2015
Orange – NSW 8 July - 28 August 2016
Blue Mountains City Art Gallery
Cairns Regional Gallery
Wagga Wagga Art Gallery
Museum and Art Gallery of the Northern Territory
Blue Mountains – NSW 8 January - 6 March 2016
Cairns – QLD 16 September - 13 November 2016
Wagga Wagga – NSW 19 March - 8 May 2016
Darwin – NT 26 November 2016 - 19 March 2017
List of Works Tate Adams b. 1922 Ireland Palm Landscape I 1997 wood engraving printed on Arches satine rag paper AP from the artist’s book Tropical Wood Engravings 27 x 28 cm Mackay Regional Council Collection, Artspace Mackay Photo: Holly Grech-Fitzgerald Palm Landscape II 1997 wood engraving printed on Arches satine rag paper AP from the artist’s book Tropical Wood Engravings 27 x 28 cm Mackay Regional Council Collection, Artspace Mackay Photo: Holly Grech-Fitzgerald Palm Landscape III 1997 wood engraving printed on Arches satine rag paper AP from the artist’s book Tropical Wood Engravings 27 x 28 cm Mackay Regional Council Collection, Artspace Mackay Photo: Holly Grech-Fitzgerald Palm Landscape IV 1997 wood engraving printed on Arches satine rag paper AP from the artist’s book Tropical Wood Engravings 27 x 28 cm Mackay Regional Council Collection, Artspace Mackay Photo: Holly Grech-Fitzgerald Paddy Bedford b. c. 1922 - 2007 Gija Dingo Dreaming 2001 ochre and pigment with acrylic binder on Belgian linen 150 x 180 cm The Corrigan Collection Bedford Downs Massacre 2001 ochre and pigment with acrylic binders on Belgian Linen 150 x 180 cm The Corrigan Collection Jason Benjamin b. 1971 Richmond, VIC Post History 2012 oil on linen 180 x 180 cm Collection of the artist Ghosts of Australia History #19 2012 graphite on paper 30 x 25 cm Collection of the artist Ghosts of Australian History #2 2012 graphite on paper 25 x 25 cm Private collection
Jo Bertini b. 1964 Manly, NSW Horsewoman 2013 oil on canvas 92 x 84 cm Collection of the artist Through Desert Eyes 2014 oil on canvas 92 x 92 cm Collection of the artist Elisabeth Cummings b. 1934 Brisbane, QLD After the Fires, Wedderburn 1994 oil on canvas 181 x 181 cm King Street Gallery on William © Elisabeth Cummings / Licensed by Viscopy, 2015 After the Wet, Elcho Island 2004 oil on canvas 175 x 250 cm (diptych) Chroma Collection, Orange Regional Gallery © Elisabeth Cummings / Licensed by Viscopy, 2015 Shane Fitzgerald b. 1973 Hobart, TAS Daintree 2002 Duraflex print 127 x 180 cm AP: Collection of Sir Elton John 1/1: Private collection, Brisbane Angelina George b. 1937 - 2015 Yungul Mangi Near Ruined City 2007 synthetic polymer paint on canvas 160 x 200 cm Purchased 2008, Museum & Art Gallery Northern Territory Collection Telstra National Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Art Award winning painting John Gollings b. 1944 Melbourne, VIC Mount Newman Mines Overburden 2010 ink jet print on Hanemuhle Baryta photo rag 74 x 110 cm Collection of the artist Mount Newman Mines Abandoned Hole 2010 ink jet print on Hanemuhle Baryta photo rag 74 x 110 cm Collection of the artist Julie Harris b. 1953 Sydney, NSW Way out West 2008 synthetic polymer paint on polyester 160 x 198 cm (triptych) Collection of the artist and The Hughes Gallery
Gertie Huddleston b. 1933 - 2014 Mara, Ngukurr, Gulf region Different landcapes around Ngukurr 1996 synthetic polymer paint on canvas 122 x 199 cm Purchased 1997, Museum and Art Gallery of the Northern Territory Collection
Mandy Martin b. 1952 Adelaide, SA Burnt Patch at Handover Camp 2013 ochre, pigments and oil on linen 180 x 180 cm Collection of the artist
Tim Johnson b.1947 Sydney, NSW Clifford Possum Tjapaltjarri 2002 oil and synthetic polymer paint on canvas 152.5 x 114.8 cm Collection: National Portrait Gallery, Canberra Commissioned with funds from the Basil Bressler Bequest 2002
Power Station Snow 2011 pigment and oil on linen 135 x 135 cm Collection of the artist
Faraway 2013 synthetic polymer paint on linen 150 x 120 cm Winner of Paddington Art Prize 2013 Collection of Simon Chan Emily Kame Kngwarreye b. c. 1910 - 1996 Anmatyerre Utopia Panels 1996
synthetic polymer paint on canvas 263 x 87.4 cm [each panel]
Commissioned 1996 with funds from the Andrew Thyne Reid Charitable Trust through and with the assistance of the Queensland Art Gallery Foundation Collection: Queensland Art Gallery © Emily Kame Kngwarreye / Licensed by Viscopy, 2015. Photo: Natasha Harth Joanna Logue b. 1964 Scone, NSW Bridge - Gundagai 2014 synthetic polymer paint on linen 76 x 214 cm Collection of the artist Euan Macleod b. 1956 Christchurch N.Z. Present 2008 oil and synthetic polymer paint on canvas 124 x 100 cm Tweed Regional Gallery Collection Holding Turtle 2008 oil and synthetic polymer paint on canvas 124 x 100 cm Tweed Regional Gallery Collection
Claudine Marzik b. 1957 Switzerland Seed to Seed 16 2012 synthetic polymer paint on canvas 213 x 177 cm Collection of the artist Photo: Michael Marzik Ricky Maynard b. 1953 Launceston, TAS The Healing Garden, Wybalenna, Flinders Island, Tasmania 2005 from the series, Portrait of a Distant Land, 2005 black and white silver gelatin print 34 x 52 cm © Ricky Maynard Courtesy of the artist and Stills Gallery, Sydney The Spit 2005 from the series, Portrait of a Distant Land, 2005 black and white silver gelatin print 42 x 50.5 cm © Ricky Maynard Courtesy of the artist and Stills Gallery, Sydney Vansittart Island, Bass Strait, Tasmania 2005 from the series, Portrait of a Distant Land, 2005 black and white silver gelatin print 34 x 52 cm © Ricky Maynard Courtesy of the artist and Stills Gallery, Sydney Broken Heart 2005 from the series, Portrait of a Distant Land, 2005 black and white silver gelatin print 40.5 x 40.5 cm © Ricky Maynard Courtesy of the artist and Stills Gallery, Sydney
List of Works Ron McBurnie b. 1957 Brisbane, QLD Burning the leaves 1989 from the Romantic series hard ground etching 19 x 23.5 cm edition of 20 Collection of the artist Photo: Holly Grech-Fitzgerald Under the light of the hill 1977 from the Romantic series hard ground etching and aquatint 50 x 59.5 cm edition of 30 City of Townsville Art Collection Photo: Holly Grech-Fitzgerald Noel McKenna b. 1956 Brisbane, QLD Lighthouses of Australia 2006 oil on canvas 150 x 180 cm Collection John F. Morrissey, Sydney © Noel McKenna / Licensed by Viscopy, 2015 Upper Hunter picture 2 2010 synthetic polymer paint on canvas 152.5 x 183 cm Purchased by Newcastle Art Gallery Foundation with the assitance of Claire Pfister Paradice and David Paradice 2010 Newcastle Art Gallery Collection © Noel McKenna / Licensed by Viscopy, 2015 Andrew Merry b. 1967 Newcastle upon Tyne, England Xeno Eucalyptus #4 2009 archival pigment print 138 x 107 cm Collection of the artist 3000 feet 2013 HD video footage and digital stills length 6:59 mins Collection of the artist Tracey Moffatt b.1960 Brisbane, QLD Invocations #2 2000 photo silk screen 146 x 122 cm Courtesy of the artist and Roslyn Oxley9 Gallery, Sydney Invocations #8 2000 photo silk screen 146 x 122 cm Courtesy of the artist and Roslyn Oxley9 Gallery, Sydney
Idris Murphy b. 1949 Sydney, NSW Kimberley Coast 2013 synthetic polymer paint on board 120 x 110 cm Private collection Homage to Ginger Riley 2009 synthetic polymer paint and collage on board 120 x 120 cm Private collection Angus Nivison b. 1953 Walcha, NSW Late Twentieth Century Landscape: Summer Rain 1998 synthetic polymer paint on canvas 200 x 320.6 cm (diptych) Gift of Mark Gianoutsos through the Australian Governments Cultural Gifts Program 2011 Newcastle Art Gallery Collection John Olsen b. 1928 Newcastle, NSW Desert seedling 2008 - 2010 watercolour on paper 159.5 x 121 cm Gold Coast City Gallery Collection. Gift of the artist under the Cultural Gifts Program, 2012 © John Olsen / Licensed by Viscopy, 2015 Country Life Rydal 1998 oil on canvas 121 x 150.8 cm Gift of John Olsen 2003 TarraWarra Museum of Art Collection © John Olsen / Licensed by Viscopy, 2015 Tommy Pau b. 1967 Waiben (Thursday Island) Cuppa Canoe, (corrugated canoe) 2013 linocut printed in black ink from one block 56.5 x 76 cm edition of 10 printed by Elizabeth Hunter Collection of the artist Photo: Shane Fitzgerald Milk Tin Trains 2013 linocut printed in black ink from one block 56.5 x 76 cm edition of 10 printed by Elizabeth Hunter, collection of the artist Photo: Shane Fitzgerald John Peart b. 1946 - 2013, Brisbane, QLD Red Hills 1983 - 2013 oil on synthetic polymer paint on canvas 169 x 330 cm Private collection
Ginger Riley Munduwalawala b. c. 1937 - 2002, Marra Country, South East Arnhem Land Garimala the Rainbow Serpent 1990 synthetic polymer paint on linen 220 x 220 cm Purchased 1994, Museum and Art Gallery of the Northern Territory Collection Image courtesy of the Estate of Ginger Riley and the Alcaston Gallery, Melbourne Brian Robinson b. 1973 Waiben (Thursday Island) Harvest Season 1 2012 linocut printed in black ink from one block 80 x 120 cm edition of 30 published Djumbunji Press, KickArts Fine Art Printmaking Collection of the artist 3 Fishermen and a Lamborghini 2012 linocut printed in black ink from one block on BFK Rives white 300gsm 63.5 x 110 cm edition of 30 Edition printer Carolyn Crain, Collection of the artist William Robinson b. 1936 Brisbane, QLD Shaded pool Carnarvon 2008 oil on canvas 92 x 122 cm Rockhampton Art Gallery Art Acquisition Fund 2009 Creation Landscape - Earth and Sea 1995 colour lithograph Ed. 53/75 40 x 57.5 cm [each sheet x 3] Collection of the artist Anneke Silver b. 1937 Holland Rocks at Jourama Falls 2013 charcoal and natural ochre on paper 110 x 146 cm Collection of the artist Photo: Shane Fitzgerald Ken Thaiday Snr. b. 1950 Erub (Darnley Island) Black bamboo Hammerhead Shark headdress (small) 2010 bamboo, marine ply, fishing line and eagle feathers 52 x 43 x 40 cm Cairns Regional Gallery Collection, Purchased with funds from the E Robert Hayles & L Hayes Charitable Trust and the John Christopher Pascoe Memorial Charitable Trust Managed by Perpetual, 2010 Photo: Michael Marzik Patrick Thaiday b. 1963 Erub (Darnley Island) Piwi Pukan Wapi Sagul Au Thonar (it is time for Piwi the flying fish to come out to play) 2012 plywood, synthetic polymer paint, feathers and metal 65 x 70 x 70 cm (open) Cairns Regional Gallery Collection Gift of Michael Kershaw through the Cultural Gift Program, 2012 Photo: Michael Marzik
Rover Thomas b. 1926 - 1998 Great Sandy Desert Cyclone Tracy Painting 1994 natural pigments and synthetic polymer paint on canvas 100 x 140 cm Purchased 1994, Museum and Art Gallery of the Northern Territory Collection Imants Tillers b. 1950 Sydney, NSW Model of Reality 1989 oilstick, gouache, synthetic polymer paint on 90 canvas boards 228.6 x 381 cm Purchased with funds from the Colin Hicks Caldwell Bequest, 1992 Collection: Art Gallery of Ballarat Ronnie Tjampitjinpa b. c 1943 Kintore, NT Bushfire 2003 synthetic polymer paint on linen 202 x 305 cm Private Collection John R Walker b. 1957 Sydney, NSW Dry Dam Bedervale 2004 oil on canvas 190.5 x 199 cm Chroma Collection, Orange Regional Gallery Ken Whisson b. 1927 Lilydale, VIC Buildings and Hillside 10/09/07, 12/01/08, 13/02/08 oil on mixed linen canvas 95 x 120 cm Collection of the artist Courtesy of the artist and Niagara Galleries Mulkun Wirrpanda b. 1945 Dhuruputjpi North Eastern Arnhem Land Rakay 2013 natural pigments on bark 156 x 87 cm Collection of the artist Rakay #2 2013 woodcut from 2 blocks 144 x 100 cm Printers Gibson Gill & John Wolseley from the Midawarr Series collaborative prints with John Wolseley Collection of the artist John Wolseley b. 1938 Somerset, England Yirriŋaniŋ, Mawuka and Buwakul 2013 woodcut from 3 blocks 90 x 120 cm Printer John Wolseley, collection of the artist Collection of the artist © John Wolseley / Licensed by Viscopy, 2015