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Ngayuku Ngura: My Country

Cover image: Ray Ken, Tali- Sand Dune (detail) acrylic on linen 1220 x 1520mm (48 x 60�) Catalog #434-16 This page: Tjala artist Wawiriya Burton working on Ngayuku ngura- My Country, Catalog #454-16

Ngayuku Ngura: My Country

Contemporary Aboriginal Paintings from Tjala Arts of South Australia From a remote yet bustling art center located at the foot of the beautiful Musgrave ranges in northern South Australia, Tjala Arts is home to many of Australia’s highest profile contemporary artists. Widely recognized as an art center with an unwavering commitment to the traditional values of holding and celebrating Tjukurpa, Tjala motivates artistic excellence in this epic region of the APY lands. To celebrate Tjala Arts 20th anniversary, Harvey Art Projects is proud to present Ngayuku Ngura ‘My Country’ a survey exhibition highlighting the artists inextricable link to country. Featuring works by internationally renowned artists Barbara Mbitjana Moore, Ray Ken, Sylvia Ken, Wawiriya Burton, Tjungkara Ken, Nyunmiti Burton, Yaritji Young and Mona Shepard, this vivid collection of stories and artworks allows a unique and exquisite insight into the individual and family histories which make the Tjala Arts story so important in Australia’s cultural landscape. To be in country (or of country) is essential for Aboriginal people - this relationship lies at the heart of indigenous painting. When you meet Aboriginal people you will often hear them talk of ‘country’. Country for Aboriginal people takes on a much broader meaning. Curator of Aboriginal & Torres Strait Islander Art at the Art Gallery of South Australia, Nici Cumpston elaborates- “Aboriginal people cry about country, they worry about country, they listen to country, they visit country and they long for country. Country can feel, think and hear, it can accept or reject and be difficult or easy, just as living people can behave towards one another. Country is a living entity with a yesterday, today and tomorrow, with a consciousness, and a will toward life.” Nowhere is this adaptation, within a consistent connection to country more evident than in the paintings created by Aboriginal artists. Aboriginal people are born with an inherent cultural responsibility for their country. They believe that the land owns them and that they must do their utmost to care for it. State and territory borders do not exist for aboriginal people. Their boundaries are drawn by their birthplaces and their relationships to those birth places manifest through ancient stories connecting people to their country. This exhibition Ngayuku Ngura aims to broaden the dialogue on connection to place and the responsibilities of what these connections mean whether physical, emotional, narrative or familial. Painting, like song and dance is ceremonial in its fundamental application. Artists paint to keep the stories alive. Tjala artist Mick Wikilyiri, a senior custodians of the honey ant story cycle that

Background image: SYLVIA KANYTJUPAI KEN Seven Sisters (detail) acrylic on linen 1525 x 1980mm (60 x 78”) Catalog #657-16

defines the landscape around Amata explains further - “My mind takes me back to the old days and my mind moves to country as I am painting. I know my law, I am strong in my law, and I work every day, in the art centre, in my community and country to make sure that law is held, and kept strong — this is the most important thing that I think about.” With a history of art and craftmaking at Amata since the 1970’s Tjala artists create works that reflect the extraordinary lives and stories of the Amata community. It is this deep-rooted strength of community that exists so profoundly for these artists. They come together not as individuals but as part of a greater family and cultural fabric. “Anangu culture is family culture and it is circular - there is no beginning or end”, says the late Kunmanara Kawiny. At Tjala senior artists work alongside younger men and women with family groups also working on large scale collborative canvases. In recent years Tjala has led the rise of collaborative painting bringing national attention to the importance of ongoing familial and cultural relationships. It was precisely this sense of family connection that appealed to the judges of The 2016 Wynne Prize- Australia’s most prestigious painting prize awarded to Tjala’s Ken sisters for their remarkable canvas Seven Sisters. Tjala Arts was started by the women of Amata in 1997 and originally called Minymaku Arts (Women’s Arts). It was renamed in 2006 to reflect the involvement of Anangu men in the art center. Today, Tjala artists embrace a variety of media including acrylic paint on linen, traditional punu (wood work) and tjanpi (sculptural fiber weaving). Young artists also explore more contemporary mediums including photography, film and sound work. Tjala Arts enables economic independence for its artists. Through strong governance, the art center has created widespread financial gain for families in the community and surrounding homelands. The center is now one of the ten largest art centers in Australia. The paintings in this exhibition are maps of color and grace directing the viewer into a world beyond our western sensibilities. Composed of dramatic mark marking and inconceivable shifts of color, these paintings depict Ngura, Anangu country in all its glory. Harvey Art Projects USA gratefully acknowledges the generous support of Tjala Manager Natalie O’Connor in mounting this debut USA exhibit. We also sincerely thank the participating artists for sharing these beautiful paintings that resonate so profoundly their connection to country. Director, Julie Harvey

YARITJI YOUNG Ngayuku ngura- My Country (detail) acrylic on linen 1525 x 1220mm (60 x 48�) Catalog #530-14

YARITJI YOUNG Ngayuku ngura- My Country (detail) acrylic on linen 1525 x 1220mm (60 x 48�) Catalog #117-15

SYLVIA KANYTJUPAI KEN Seven Sisters (detail) acrylic on linen 1525 x 1220mm (60 x 48�) Catalog #635-16

WAWIRIYA BURTON Ngayuku ngura - My Country (detail) acrylic on linen 1525 x 1220mm (60 x 48�) Catalog #454-16

RAY KEN Tali- Sand Dune (detail) acrylic on linen 1220 x 1520mm (48 x 59�) Catalog #395-16

RAY KEN Tali- Sand Dune (detail) acrylic on linen 1525 x 1980mm (60 x 78�) Catalog #392-16

NYUNMITI BURTON Ngayuku ngura- My Country (detail) acrylic on linen 1220 x 1980mm (48 x 78�) Catalog #829-16

TJUNGKARA KEN Seven Sisters (detail) acrylic on linen 1220 x 1220mm (48 x 48�) Catalog #335-15

Barbara Mbitjana Moore Ray Ken Sylvia Kanytjupai Ken Wawiriya Burton Nyunmiti Burton Tjungkara Ken Mona Mitakiki Shepherd Yaritji Young

MONA MITAKIKI SHEPHERD Kapi Tjukula tjuta- Many Rock Holes (detail) acrylic on linen 1525 x 1980mm (60 x 78�) Catalog #831-16

On view 5 February - 31 March 2017 Sun Valley USA 391 First Ave N Ketchum ID 83353 USA | Phone (208) 309-8676 Back cover photo: Ray Ken with his painting Tali-Sand Dune Catalog #136-14 Copyright 2017 Harvey Art Projects USA & Tjala Arts


Tjala Arts 2017  
Tjala Arts 2017