REDOT FINE ART GALLERY presents
Draw the line Marina Strocchi Solo
07 January â€“ 02 March 2020
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Marina Strocchi on the desert road to Papunya, 2014 Source: ÂŠ Photo courtesy of Helen Puckey
Marina STROCCHI Birth Date Place of Birth
28 December 1961 Melbourne
Strocchi studied art in Melbourne (1979-82) and spent time in the milieu of the ROAR studios in the early 1980s. She then had a two-year sojourn in Europe (mainly Paris), before returning to Melbourne to commence her social practice as an artist. She found herself in central Australia in January 1992. It was there that she began her first series of landscape paintings and returned to live at Haasts Bluff in August of that year. During the 1990s she worked closely with many of the Aboriginal artists who made central Australian desert art so well known in Australia and all over the world. Marina has a daily painting routine at her studio in Alice Springs. She makes trips out bush to work at art centres whenever the chance arises. For over 20 years now her own studio practice has been paramount. She has painted her experiences of being “out bush”, often using a minimal palette and patterned imagery of people and place. These paintings express a sensitivity to landscape with an awareness of “what lies beneath”, her perceptions drawn from sharing an environment and experience with Indigenous artists. Since 2015, her work has grown in ambition while subjects initially becoming more domestic and internally focused. Still life dominated her Kitchen series (2015-16) which developed the strong linearity of her work and the solidity of its motifs. A residency at the Kangaroo Valley (inland New South Wales) followed in 2018. She worked en plein air, in one of only seven enclosed escarpments in the world. The flatness and verticality that emerges in the Escarpment paintings is dramatic, with abstracted forms from the landscape pressing up against the picture plane. Marina has exhibited in the US, Europe, Asia and all over Australia during the last thirty years. Her work is in prestigious collections including many major Australian institutional and private collections in addition to private collections in Europe and the USA. She has undertaken commissions, won awards and is a many time finalist in significant prizes.1
Extracts taken from Louise Martin-Chew Biography on the Jan Murphy Gallery Website 2019.
Education 1979/82 1986 1994/96 2006
Batchelor of Art, Swinburne University, Melbourne, VIC, Australia. Certificat de Langue FranĂ§aise, Sorbonne University, Paris, France. Pintupi/Luritja Language Course, Institute for Aboriginal Development (IAD), Alice Springs, NT, Australia. Etching and lithography, Northern Editions, Charles Darwin University, Darwin, NT, Australia.
Collections Artbank Collection, Sydney, NSW, Australia. Araluen Art Collection, Alice Springs, NT, Australia. Art Gallery of Western Australia (AGWA), Perth, WA, Australia. National Gallery of Australia (NGA), Canberra, ACT, Australia. B.H.P. Billiton, Melbourne, VIC, Australia. Broken Hill City Regional Art Gallery, Broken Hill, NSW, Australia. Charles Darwin University (CDU), Darwin, NT, Australia. Department of Health Housing and Community Services (D.H.H.C.S.), Canberra, ACT, Australia. Department of the Environment and Energy, Canberra, ACT, Australia. La Trobe University Art Collection, Melbourne, VIC, Australia. Macquarie Bank Collection, Sydney, NSW, Australia. Museum and Art Gallery of the Northern Territory (MAGNT), Darwin, NT, Australia. National Gallery of Victoria (NGV), Melbourne, VIC, Australia. Newcastle Art Gallery, Newcastle, NSW, Australia. Parliament House Art Collection, Canberra, ACT, Australia. Powerhouse Museum, Sydney, NSW, Australia. St John of God Hospital Collection, Perth, WA, Australia. State Library of Victoria, Melbourne, VIC, Australia. Tennant Creek Art Gallery, Tennant Creek, NT, Australia. The Toga Group, Darwin, NT, Australia. Palacio do Governo (Government House), DĂli, East Timor, (Gifted to Jose Ramos Horta by Vice-Chancellor, Charles Darwin University). Private Collections in Australia, Europe and USA.
Awards 2019 Awarded Arts NT Fellowship, New York, USA. 2018 Finalist - Fisher’s Ghost Art Award, Campbelltown, NSW, Australia. The Shark Institute Visual Arts Residency, Kangaroo Valley, NSW, Australia. 2017 Finalist - Eutick Memorial Still Life Award (EMSLA) Still Life Award, Wollongong, NSW, Australia. Finalist - Tattersall’s Club Landscape Prize, Brisbane, QLD, Australia. 2015 Finalist - Tattersall’s Club Landscape Prize, Brisbane, QLD, Australia. 2012 Highly commended - The Waterhouse Natural History Art Prize - Museum of South Australia, Adelaide, SA, Australia. Finalist - Salon des Refusés, S.H. Ervin Gallery, Sydney, NSW, Australia. Finalist - The Alice Prize - Araluen Arts Centre, Alice Springs, NT, Australia. 2011 Finalist - The Waterhouse Natural History Art Prize - Museum of South Australia, Adelaide, SA, Australia. 2010 Finalist - The Wynne Prize - Art Gallery of New South Wales (AGNSW), Sydney, NSW, Australia. Finalist - The Alice Prize - Araluen Arts Centre, Alice Springs, NT, Australia. 2009 Winner - Brisbane Rotary Art Spectacular, Brisbane, QLD, Australia. Category 1: Best acrylic/oil. Finalist - Togart Contemporary Art Award, Darwin, NT, Australia. 2006 Finalist - The Alice Prize - Araluen Arts Centre, Alice Springs, NT, Australia. Finalist - Togart Contemporary Art Award, Darwin, NT, Australia. 2004 Finalist - The Alice Prize - Araluen Arts Centre, Alice Springs, NT, Australia. 2003 Winner - Broken Hill Art Award, Broken Hill, NSW, Australia. 2001 Winner - Country Women’s Association (CWA) Tennant Creek Art Award, Tennant Creek, NT, Australia. 1999 Finalist - NT Art Award, Alice Springs, NT, Australia. Finalist - The Alice Prize - Araluen Arts Centre, Alice Springs, NT, Australia. 1996 Finalist - The Alice Prize - Araluen Arts Centre, Alice Springs, NT, Australia. 1995 Finalist - NT Art Award, Alice Springs, NT, Australia. Finalist - The Alice Prize - Araluen Arts Centre, Alice Springs, NT, Australia. 1994 Finalist - NT Art Award, Alice Springs, NT, Australia. 1993 Finalist - NT Art Award, Alice Springs, NT, Australia. Finalist - Festival d’Affiches de Chaumont, Paris, France. 1992 Finalist - Festival d’Affiches de Chaumont, Paris, France.
Selected Solo Exhibitions 2019 Terra Firma II - Australian Galleries, Melbourne, VIC, Australia. Still Life - Australian Museums and Galleries Association (AMaGA) National Conference, The Residency, Alice Springs, NT, Australia. Terra Firma - Jan Murphy Gallery, Brisbane, QLD, Australia. Coastal - Artitja Fine Art, South Fremantle, WA, Australia. 2017 Near the shore - The Residency, Alice Springs, NT, Australia. 2016 At Home - Australian Galleries, Melbourne, VIC, Australia. Drawings from the studio - The Residency, Alice Springs, NT, Australia. 2015 Marina Strocchi – A survey 1991-2015 - Charles Darwin University Art Gallery, Darwin, NT, Australia. Domesticity - Jan Murphy Gallery, Brisbane, QLD, Australia. Marina Strocchi - Art Images Gallery, Adelaide, SA, Australia. Marina Strocchi - Australian Galleries, Melbourne, VIC, Australia. Marina Strocchi – A Survey 1992-2014 - Araluen Arts Centre, Alice Springs, NT, Australia. Marina Strocchi – North and South – A Survey 1992-2014 - (Artback NT Touring) Katherine, Tennant Creek, Darwin, NT, Australia. From the studio - The Residency, Alice Springs, NT, Australia. 2014 Marina Strocchi - Art Images Gallery, Adelaide, SA, Australia. 2013 Floribundus - Harvey Art Projects, Sun Valley, ID, USA. Marina Strocchi - Jan Murphy Gallery, Brisbane, QLD, Australia. 2012 The Nature of Things - Nellie Castan Gallery, Melbourne, VIC, Australia. 2011 North and South - Jan Murphy Gallery, Brisbane, QLD, Australia. Territoryscapes - Harvey Art Projects, Sun Valley, ID, USA. New Works - Michael Reid Gallery, Sydney, NSW, Australia. 2010 Territoryscapes - Nellie Castan Gallery, Melbourne, VIC, Australia. 2009 Recent Works - Gallery 139, Adelaide, SA, Australia. Recent Paintings - Jan Murphy Gallery, Brisbane, QLD, Australia. 2008 Paintings - Michael Reid Gallery, Sydney, NSW, Australia. Marina Strocchi - Chapman Gallery, Canberra, ACT, Australia. 2007 Recent Paintings - Jan Murphy Gallery, Brisbane, QLD, Australia. New Paintings - Nellie Castan Gallery, Melbourne, VIC, Australia. 2006 The North Country - Michael Reid Gallery, Sydney, NSW, Australia. Top End Paintings - RAFT Artspace, Darwin, NT, Australia. 2005 Paintings - Nellie Castan Gallery, Melbourne, VIC, Australia. New Paintings - Jan Murphy Gallery, Brisbane, QLD, Australia. 2004 Marina Strocchi - RAFT Artspace, Darwin, NT, Australia. Recent Works - Jan Murphy Gallery, Brisbane, QLD, Australia.
2004 2003 2002 2001 1998 1995
Marina Strocchi - Michael Reid Gallery, Sydney, NSW, Australia. Paintings - Nellie Castan Gallery, Melbourne, VIC, Australia. Paintings - Araluen Arts Centre, Alice Springs, NT, Australia. Paintings - Nellie Castan Gallery, Melbourne, VIC, Australia. Landscapes - Nellie Castan Gallery, Melbourne, VIC, Australia. Marina Strocchi - ROAR Studios (small room), Melbourne, VIC, Australia.
Selected Group Exhibitions 2019 Papermade - Australian Galleries, Melbourne, VIC, Australia. Group show - Australian Galleries, Melbourne, VIC, Australia. GOWANUS Open Studios - Arts Gowanus, Brooklyn, New York, USA. 2018 Presence: a dialogue in country - Araluen Arts Centre, Alice Springs, NT, Australia. Spring 1883 - Melbourne Art Fair, Jan Murphy Gallery, Brisbane, QLD, Australia. Royals at The Res - The Residency, Alice Springs, NT, Australia. Celebrating the Year - Curator’s Choice - Australian Galleries, Melbourne, VIC, Australia. 2017 Dog Days - Jan Murphy Gallery, Brisbane, QLD, Australia. Launch – Stockrooms - Australian Galleries, Melbourne, VIC, Australia. Having a voice - The Residency, Alice Springs, NT, Australia. Ritratti Thirty-one Italian artists from Victoria - The Italian Cultural Institute, Melbourne, VIC, Australia. 2016 It’s a dog’s life… - curated by Chips Makinolty, Darwin, NT, Australia. Black, White and Restive - Newcastle Art Gallery, Newcastle, NSW, Australia. Paintings and Prints - online show, Studio Five Pop up Gallery, Alice Springs, NT, Australia. Eclectica - Winifred West Schools (WWS) Foundation Art Show, Mittagong, NSW, Australia. 20/20 A Sense of Place - Whistlewood Gallery, Shoreham, VIC, Australia. 2015 Group show - Jan Murphy Gallery, Brisbane, QLD, Australia. Studio Five Pop up Gallery, Alice Springs, NT, Australia. 2014 The Age - Australia Day 2014 Celebratory Exhibition, curated by artist Leo Robba, Australian Galleries, Melbourne VIC, Australia. One of Each - Australian Galleries, Melbourne, VIC, Australia. Botanica - Godinymayin Yijard Rivers Arts and Culture Centre, Katherine, NT, Australia. Botanica 2 - Chan Contemporary Art Space, Darwin, NT, Australia. Ross Park Fundraiser - Marina Strocchi and Wayne Eager - Pop-up, Ross Park Primary School, Alice Springs, NT, Australia.
2013 The Age - Australia Day 2013 Celebratory Exhibition, curated by artist Leo Robba, Australian Galleries, Melbourne, VIC, Australia. Metropolis’ Contemporary and Collectable Australian Printmakers - Metropolis Gallery, Geelong, VIC, Australia. Got the Message? 50 Years of Political Posters - Art Gallery of Ballarat, Ballarat, VIC, Australia. Homage to Roy Jackson - Martin Browne Gallery, Sydney, NSW, Australia. Iggy, Marina, Neridah and Patsy - RAFT Artspace, Alice Springs, NT, Australia. 2012 Small Works - Jan Murphy Gallery, Brisbane, QLD, Australia. The Waterhouse Natural History Art Prize - The National Archives of Australia, Canberra, ACT, Australia. Deck the Walls - Northern Editions, Darwin, NT, Australia. 2011 Collective Passions: The Art of Festival Posters - National Film and Sound Archive, Acton (Canberra), ACT, Australia. The Nature of Things - Charles Darwin University Art Gallery, Darwin, NT, Australia. 2010 Breaking with Tradition: Cobra and Aboriginal art - Museum of Contemporary Aboriginal Art (AAMU), Utrecht, Netherlands. Northern Impressions - A Celebration of Contemporary Printmaking - National Tour. Going Places - Araluen Arts Centre, Alice Springs, NT, Australia. In Print - Charles Darwin University (CDU), Darwin, NT, Australia. Stockroom Show - RAFT Artspace, Alice Springs, NT, Australia 2009 Salon des Refusés - S.H. Ervin Gallery, Sydney, NSW, Australia. Paper Cuts 1 - Araluen Arts Centre, Alice Springs, NT, Australia. Prelude - Charles Darwin University (CDU), Darwin, NT, Australia. For Pete’s Sake - Deutscher and Hackett, Charity, Melbourne, VIC, Australia. 2008 Divas of the Desert - Gallery Gondwana, Alice Springs, NT, Australia. The Sum of Us - Michael Reid Gallery, Sydney, NSW, Australia. The Other Thing - a survey show - Charles Darwin University Art Gallery, Darwin, NT, Australia. 2007 Alice 5 - AP Bond Art Gallery, Adelaide, SA, Australia. Marina Strocchi and Wayne Eager - Northern Editions, Charles Darwin University, Darwin, NT, Australia. Squared - Greenhill Galleries, Perth, WA, Australia. Marina Strocchi and Wayne Eager, Etchings - Michael Reid Gallery, Sydney, NSW, Australia. Big Country - Gallery Gondwana, Alice Springs, NT, Australia. 2006 Art for Peace - Counihan Gallery, Melbourne, VIC, Australia. The Sound of the Sky - Museum and Art Gallery of the Northern Territory (MAGNT), Darwin, NT, Australia. Divas of the Desert - Gallery Gondwana, Alice Springs, NT, Australia.
2006 2005 2004 2003 2002 2001 1999 1996 1995 1994
CARE Art Auction - Christine Abrahams Gallery, Melbourne, VIC, Australia. The Artist, the Community and the Land - Plimsoll Gallery, Hobart, TAS, Australia. 2 x 1 Show - Nellie Castan Gallery, Melbourne, VIC, Australia. Small Works - Jan Murphy Gallery, Brisbane, QLD, Australia. Group Show - Peter Walker Fine Art, Adelaide, SA, Australia. 10 Year Anniversary - Jan Murphy Gallery, Brisbane, QLD, Australia. Divas of the Desert - Gallery Gondwana, Alice Springs, NT, Australia. Red Planet Revolution - The Artery, Fitzroy, VIC, Australia. Small Works - Jan Murphy Gallery, Brisbane, QLD, Australia. New Gallery Stock â€™05 - Nellie Castan Gallery, Melbourne, VIC, Australia. Floranova - Nellie Castan Gallery, Melbourne, VIC, Australia. Isle of Refuge - Araluen Arts Centre, Alice Springs, NT, Australia. Windows on Australian Art - Kids on Track - Museum and Art Gallery of the Northern Territory (MAGNT), Darwin, NT, Australia. Small Works - Jan Murphy Gallery, Brisbane, QLD, Australia. Red Spot Special - Nellie Castan Gallery, Melbourne, VIC, Australia. Small Works - Jan Murphy Gallery, Brisbane, QLD, Australia. Christmas Show - Gallery Gondwana, Alice Springs, NT, Australia. End of year show - RAFT Artspace, Darwin, NT, Australia. Windows on Australian Art - Museum and Art Gallery of the Northern Territory (MAGNT), Darwin, NT, Australia. Two Painters - Gallery Gondwana, Alice Springs, NT, Australia. Small Works - Jan Murphy Gallery, Brisbane, QLD, Australia. Marina Strocchi, Wayne Eager, Penny Watson, Linden Eager - Watch This Space, Alice Springs, NT, Australia. Powerful Posters - Australian National Tour 1999-2000. Roar Miniatures Show - ROAR Studios, Melbourne, VIC, Australia. Marina Strocchi, Tanya Hoddinott, Alana Kennedy, Pamela Hyett - ROAR Studios (small room), Melbourne, VIC, Australia. The Home Show - Watch This Space, Alice Springs, NT, Australia. Red Planet in Orbit - National Gallery of Victoria (NGV), Melbourne, VIC, Australia. Redletter 10 year Retrospective - Mechanics Institute, Brunswick, VIC, Australia.
Marina Strocchi in her studio, 2018 Source: ÂŠ Photo courtesy of Andrew Gervis-James
Starting the unstoppable: Women’s painting at Haasts Bluff and Kintore. An interview with Marina Strocchi. Marina Strocchi is an artist and was the founding Co-ordinator of the Ikuntji Art Centre at Haasts Bluff from August 1992 until the end of 1997.1 The settlement is located 230 kilometres west of Alice Springs, within proximity of the MacDonnell Ranges and Papunya to the north. From early last century Haasts Bluff was home to Indigenous people from many different language groups – Pintupi, Pitjantjatjara, Anmatyerre and Walpiri joined the local Luritja – forced from their lands due to increasing pastoral development and drought. Haasts Bluff also attracted evangelical Aboriginals in the 1930s. Established as a Lutheran mission in 1942, and a cattle station in 1954, people were also bought to Haasts Bluff ration station (by this time Haasts Bluff was a settlement) as part of the 1950s and 1960s government assimilation schemes.2 Since the 1970s and government support for Aboriginal self-governance and the return to traditional homelands, the population at Haasts Bluff has decreased from its height of over 1000 in the 1950s to several hundred. The community of Haasts Bluff, and its predominantly Pintupi kin, who resettled westward in areas stretching to Kintore (close to the border with Western Australia), have made a vibrant contribution to contemporary Indigenous art. Distinguished male artists began their careers with the emergence of acrylic painting in the central desert in the early 1970s, after which the work of Haasts Bluff women from Ikuntji became renown in the 1990s, and now Kintore holds the spotlight. Zara Stanhope discusses the rise of contemporary art from Haasts Bluff and Kintore with Marina Strocchi. ZARA STANHOPE: Marina, can we set the scene by reviewing the development of contemporary art at Haasts Bluff in the 1970s? Haasts Bluff was in close proximity and regular contact with Papunya. Men in Papunya started painting with European materials 1
Ikuntji means ‘creeks crossing’ in Luritja language.
Lutheran missionaries were led by Father Albrecht from Hermannsburg Mission, 100 kilometres southeast of Haasts Bluff, see Marina Strocchi, Ikuntji: Paintings from Haasts bluff 1992–94, IAD Press, Alice Springs, 1995. Albrecht encouraged residents to give over sacred objects and disapproved of Indigenous ceremonies. Fred Myers, Jeremy Long, ‘In recognition: The gift of Pintupi painting’, One Sun One Moon, Aboriginal Art in Australia, Art Gallery of New South Wales, Sydney, 2007, p. 172.
in 1971, inspired by the encouragement of teacher Geoffrey Bardon (and his successor art advisor Peter Fannin). Enthusiasm for painting quickly ignited at Haasts Bluff, and men from both communities sold their work through Papunya Tula Artists Pty Ltd. Do you have a sense of the place held by art in the Haasts Bluff community in the 1970s? MARINA STROCCHI: There was a lot of contact between the Haasts Bluff and Papunya communities, continual interaction between family members and for other business. There have always been relationships between different language groups in the western desert, and Papunya and Haasts Bluff were places where, during the last century, people from wide and far gravitated. Also, other precedents for painting existed at Haasts Bluff. In the 1940s and 1950s Albert Namatjira and his family spent time around the area. His wife was Kukatja and his family Tjunkayi Napaltjarri and Marina Strocchi at Adelaide Tandanya National Aboriginal Cultural Institute, 1995 Source: ÂŠ Photo courtesy of Marina Strocchi
had strong connections across Pintupi land. Namatjira lived at Hermannsburg, relatively close to Haasts Bluff, in fact, he made extended visits to Haasts Bluff and lived there for periods of time in the mid-1950s. Namatjira’s work was formative in stimulating many people to paint the landscape using watercolours. (Namatjira had been introduced to watercolour painting by Rex Battarbee). He often painted the Ulampawurru and Mereenie Ranges, the dominant ranges in view to the north and south of the Haasts Bluff community. In fact, one of the very popular Namatjira prints in the 1950s was of his water colour Haasts Bluff.3 In 1944 cattle came to Haasts Bluff and lots of Indigenous stockmen would paint the landscape they travelled through using easily transportable, small watercolour boards and paints. In addition, men at a number of outstations around Papunya were painting for Papunya Tula Artists Pty Ltd, as it was the first cooperative established to facilitate acrylic painting. The company’s agents, Daphne Williams (working for Papunya Tula Artists from 1981–93 and between1995–2003) and Dick Kimber (co-ordinator from 1976–8), were based in Alice Springs but were mobile. Field trips were made to communities such as Haasts Bluff and west to Mt Liebig, and then Kintore and Kiwirrkurra after these two communities had been established, to pick up finished work and supply new materials. In the early days Limpi Tjapangarti, Gideon Tjupurrula, Mekini Tjapanangka, Alan Tjapanangka, Timmy Jugadai were all men from Haasts Bluff painting for Papunya Tula Artists. By 1992 Gideon was the sole survivor of this small group. ZARA STANHOPE: Some elders in other western desert communities beyond Papunya continued to oppose the public dissemination of their Dreamings or Tjukurrpa in painting. Hence painting did not begin in these areas until the second half of the 1980s. In other communities, both men and women were very active artists. Acrylic painting began at Yuendumu and Balgo in the early 1980s, where women had promptly been given permission by the senior men to paint their Tjukurrpa. Already working in batik since 1977, Anmatyerre and Alyawarr women at Utopia also adopted painting on canvas in 1988−89. During the 1980s, many senior male Haasts Bluff artists moved away and returned to their traditional land, and the work of others, such as Gideon Tjupurrula and Harper Morris, had very little external exposure in exhibitions. What was the situation for art making in Haasts Bluff in the 1980s, and how would you describe the community when you arrived on your first visit in 1992?
Albert Namatjira’s watercolour Haasts Bluff (Ulumbaura) (1939) was his first work to enter a public collection, purchased by the Art Gallery of South Australia.
MARINA STROCCHI: Haasts Bluff was a place established by missionaries in the 1930s. It was a place that had seen many hundreds of people come and go. People came to Haasts Bluff from all directions, predominantly the west, in the 1940s, 1950s and 1960s, and then in the 1970s and 1980s they went back to the far west (Kintore and Kiwirrkurra). Haasts Bluff had a strange air, similar to that of Papunya. A lot of history, much of it sad. For many years it was run by the families of the two wives of Timmy Jugadai, who was the head stockman when the government cattle station was wound up with the advent of land rights in 1972. The painting had been very limited at Haasts Bluff, partly due to the circumstances of the time and partly as a result of a lack of resources and opportunities for artists to develop (field trips from Papunya Tula Artists ceased in 1986). Until this time, Papunya Tula Artists supplied pre-primed canvases and four colours of paint (red, white, black and yellow), and people mixed their own colours. It was not until 1996, with field workers situated full time at Kintore, that a wider palette was introduced. The only other paint available was lowgrade stuff available from the community store. People at Haasts Bluff knew about the phenomenon of painting, including Balgo, and they would have seen Yuendumu painting. For Papunya Tula Artists the initial era slowed with the 1987 economic downturn, and a number of the older men passing away. By the beginning of the 1990s, a few notable Camping out near Haasts Bluff with a friend, 2018 Source: ÂŠ Photo courtesy of Marina Strocchi
artists from the company were painting ‘privately’, as well as for Papunya Tula Artists. The Papunya Tula Artists focus by then was at Kintore and further west at Kiwirrkurra, where the majority of the active artists lived. There were brief stops at Papunya, outstations and Mt Leibig to do “drop-offs and pick-ups”. Painting was going well in those communities that had art centres. Otherwise, some people who lived in the western desert communities without an art centre would buy cheap materials supplied by the store and, in general, do clichéd honey ant or witchetty grub paintings. These small works would be sold to local schoolteachers or taken to town for some ready cash. Often this was something the women would do. I arrived at Haasts Bluff in 1992 with my partner, Wayne Eager. Wayne is a painter, as his parents were, and has also been a mentor to many budding artists in Melbourne and the western desert. He was instrumental in the establishment of the art centre at Haasts Bluff and worked for Papunya Tula Artists for four years (1996-2000). Harper Morris had done some painting for Papunya Tula Artists in the 1980s and was keen to paint on his trips to Haasts Bluff to visit family, and Gideon was happy to start painting again in 1992 after an eight year break. Nobody was painting actively until the Women’s centre opened. Wayne Eager, Mitjili Napurrula, Marina Strocchi and Tim Klingender traveling from Kintore to Haasts Bluff circa 1994 Source: © Photo courtesy of Marina Strocchi
Ester Jugadai had purchased her own materials and painted occasionally, selling works to her own contacts. Skipper Raggett, a local stockman, occasionally painted watercolours. Some Haasts Bluff women had possibly painted with male relatives when they were working for Papunya Tula Artists. There was certainly nothing disqualifying them from painting except a supportive and structured environment; they were keen to paint. There were about half a dozen female painters on the books at Papunya Tula Artists through the 1980s and early 1990s, including Pansy Napangarti, Eunice Napangarti, Linda Syddick, Daisy Leura, and Narpula Scobie. Anecdotal evidence suggests that many women at Kintore worked on the large works that their male family members were painting. Papunya Tula didn’t have the resources to encourage the women at Kiwirrkurra and Kintore until 1996, with the appointment in 1995–6 of field offices Paul Sweeney and Wayne Eager, who were based at Kintore and Kiwirrkurra for extended periods of up to four or six weeks. By this time, the Sotheby’s sales of early boards were lifting the profile of the western desert art movement and interest was developing for the current work as well. The number of collectors was gradually growing, and it was possible to gear up slowly, extending the opportunity to paint to a larger group of people, men as well as women. In recent years the desert communities further afield have given rise to clusters of painters: little spot fires producing incredible paintings. The rapid commercial success has been great in that it has allowed more to happen, but there is a downside to recent trends and hyped up markets. Long periods of time are good for the slow fermentation of artistic talent and creation. ZARA STANHOPE: In August 1992 a building was designated for the women’s Centre, and activities commenced with your employment. In April 1993, the Ikuntji Art Centre was sung open by women from Kintore, Mt Liebig, Papunya and Haasts Bluff. What impact did the opening of the Centre have, particularly for the women? Can you provide some insight into what your role as Co-ordinator involved for the women’s art making? MARINA STROCCHI: I made a commitment to Haasts Bluff as I had met Daisy Napaltjari Jugadai and Esther Jugadai when I visited the community in January 1992. They were persistent in their desire, firstly to visit Melbourne, and then to have me come and assist in getting them started in painting! At the start, in August 1992, I supported everything the people wanted to do: sewing, making T-shirts, lino cut designs for fabric, and other crafts as well as painting. My role was to provide training, with the aim of assisting people to acquire skills. But the
agenda was too broad, including everything from growing vegetable gardens, baby care and practicing recycling amongst other things. However, it was clear the only thing that would gather its own momentum was painting. ZARA STANHOPE: Why? MARINA STROCCHI: Because painting requires only paints and canvas. Painting was a really strong connection to traditional aspects of culture: drawings in the sand, body painting, and sacred artefacts. It involved telling stories; people would sing stories while they painted. Painting is wonderful because it enables culture to morph. It has offered one of the most significant levels of connection between aboriginal and white culture. ZARA STANHOPE: Ikuntji women artists came to prominence well before those painting for Papunya Tula Artists. Was it necessary for the women at Haasts Bluff to be granted permission to paint? Left: Path to Marina Strocchi’s studio in Alice Springs Right: Marina Strocchi’s work in progress at Kangaroo Valley, 2018 Source: © Photo courtesy of Marina Strocchi
MARINA STROCCHI: This was done within at the Haasts Bluff community, it was never mentioned to me as an issue in regard to Ikuntji. At Kintore, the only issue I was aware of was the decision regarding which Tjukurrpa the women were to paint. The strong, traditional women with the knowledge of law and culture at Kintore had asked Cate Wait to assist them to paint as early as 1986, though nothing eventuated. The paintings on the Ngintaka Women’s Centre, which I saw in Kintore in December 1992 were powerful, raw images proudly identifying the humble building that was designated for the women to use for activities such as cooking. The loft served as a keeping place for sacred objects. After much encouragement from the women, and the granting of support from the relevant community councils, and a letter of support from Papunya Tula Artists manager at the time, Faye Bell, I facilitated the Kintore/ Haasts Bluff collaborative painting workshops in 1994–5. I recall the senior men Turkey Tolsen Tjupurrula and Ronnie Tjampitjinpa clearly giving their implicit approval to the project and the women starting to paint their own works. ZARA STANHOPE: The Haasts Bluff artists’ painting quickly established a presence in public and commercial galleries from the mid-1990s, followed by a number of solo exhibitions. The publication you organised, Ikuntji: Paintings from Haasts Bluff 1992— 94, remains an excellent document of the vibrant work and artists from the early days of the Art Centre. Was promotion seen as important in the Art Centre’s assistance of the artists? How economically significant did painting become for the community? In what other ways did the Centre support the lives and careers of its artists? MARINA STROCCHI: Painting became the main income apart from welfare payments and the intermittent royalties from mining or gas. I was very careful at Ikuntji, no one was given a down payment for a finished painting, because there wasn’t any money to do so. This avoided any expectations of quick sales and gave the people with an interest in painting the opportunity to develop. The first sale at Haasts Bluff was to a French man who arrived in left hand drive Nissan in the summer of 1992, saying that he had heard some painting was going on. I was surprised and asked him where he found out about us, as I wasn’t sure we were an art centre yet! I didn’t even have an invoice book, and broke into a cold sweat at the thought of accepting a cheque that might bounce; what if he had travellers’ cheques? He unrolled a roll of fifty-dollar notes. The artists nearby were wide-eyed at the size of the roll. I paid Narputta immediately. Afterward I found out he was an old hand at buying aboriginal art and his offsider was a blackjack tourist! It wasn’t long before Gabrielle Pizzi offered the Haasts Bluff artists a group show at her gallery in Melbourne. It was a strong first group show but we only sold three works. I applied for, and received, funding for a small publication that was to accompany this first show. It soon developed into a larger book and expanded with the new developments by artists such as Long Tom Tjapanangka and Mitijili and Marlee Napurrula. The untimely
death of Tjungupi Napaltjarri gave urgency to the project. The artists were very keen to tell and record their life stories, in language as well as English. Then the womenâ€™s talent was acknowledged at the conclusion of the joint Kintore/ Haasts Bluff project, when the exhibition of these sizable collaborative canvases and smaller individual works at Tandanya, Adelaide in June 1995 created much excitement. The two largest group works both entered the collection of the National Gallery of Victoria, one as a direct sale and one subsequently donated. Other large works were sold to the gallery at Campbelltown, Tasmania University, and collectors in the USA and Australia. After a couple of years the money started to come in, and more importantly the women and children were healthier and, as the nurse acknowledged, more active. I was running childcare as part of the Centre and organised free access to a washing machine, and would bring back boxes of fruits, and soap power and shampoo from Alice Springs, so people could wash clothes, or have a shower and something home cooked to eat. The centre was not locked and never vandalised. One of the best things we did in those years were bush trips back to country and trips to law and culture meetings. We went to Lake Mackay, Lake MacDonald, Lupuul, Tjukurla, Muruntji as well as many significant sites that were relevant to peopleâ€™s lives. We did lots of hunting and camping trips as well as funerals, sorry business and sports festivals. Also, the artists travelled to their shows, group and solo. ZARA STANHOPE: Now work by senior artists from Ikuntji, such as the late Daisy Napaltjarri Jugadai, Marlee Naparrula, Narputta Nangala and Alice Nampitjinpa is acknowledged for its individual and bold use of colour, combination of abstract and figurative imagery, and innovative compositional design. Aspects of Tjukurrpa are communicated in art in unique styles that are derived from, but extend, traditional iconography. Do you think there was, or still is, a distinctive Haasts Bluff style of painting? Have there been significant changes in the art? MARINA STROCCHI: At Haasts Bluff there was initially no homogenised style. Daisy Napaltjarri Jugadai and Mitjili Napurrula painted individually colourful and expressive work right from the start, as did Eunice Napanangka developed her unique style over a longer period of time. Using many layers of pastel desert colours and sometimes high key colours, she layered the dry stippling brushwork in lines and arcs. Richard Larters work comes to mind when looking at some of her paintings. It was interesting to watch the development, as initially things were very quiet and slow. Painting was always in fits and starts because people were busy with their own business.
Alcohol caused a lot of upheaval, often followed by fighting. Grief and mourning often consumed people’s lives. When times were quiet people would come in and paint, and after a week I would think ‘This is good’. Then, suddenly, two weeks later another tragedy would strike... The remarkable thing was that the artists were all doing extraordinary and different work; they always had the capacity. Daisy painted high key, layered landscapes with clouds, very controlled images, where as Narputta Nangala was much more painterly and expressive. Narputta often included figurative representations of the ancestors in her tjukurrpa. Tjungupi Napaltjarri was a naturally talented painter who had an uninhibited and joyful approach to her work. She only had a short period of time in which she was delighted and slightly amused by the reception of her paintings. Long Tom Tjapanangka’s work was lyrical and minimal; he was prolific for a time and inspired those around him with his enthusiasm. Mitjili Napurrula was painting her vegetation paintings. Gideon Tjupurrula Jack created more traditionally structured images using dots (he had painted for Papunya Tula Artists until field trips ceased in 1986). After the first group, artists such as Alice Nampitjinpa and Katarra Nampitjinpa came to prominence with very powerful work. Now a new generation of women have taken up painting, and a few men; Justin Corby comes to mind. There is a lot more demand on the artists, everywhere, which places burdens on them to paint. So you see a looser style but one with more freedom of expression. No doubt the current global economic downturn will impact on the market for Australian Indigenous art. Perhaps the effects will not be all bad, if the impact decreases the demand in this hot market, and therefore reduces the pressure on the artists. [The Global Financial Crisis of 2007-8 did indeed have a severe effect on the Indigenous Art Market which we are only now fully recovering from]. ZARA STANHOPE: At Kintore in 1994, your workshop was followed by an opportunity for Alice Nampitjinpa, Katara and Nyurapayia Nampitjinpa, Irene Nangala, Tjunkiya Napaltjarri and Wintjiya Napaltjarri to design exceptional and expressionistic batiks, which you subsequently undertook to preserve. The batiks are singularly powerful and beautiful assertions of identity, yet they Marina Strocchi sketching at Kangaroo Valley, 2018 Source: © Photo courtesy of Marina Strocchi
seem to have been made in a once-off spirit of creative experimentation rather than to pass on knowledge. How do you understand their significance compared to the women’s painting of the time and in relation to batiks from other areas? MARINA STROCCHI: Except for having participated in the Kintore/Haasts Bluff canvas project the women at Kintore were not actively painting at that time. The Kintore batiks are a unique collection, twenty-six cloths in all, created at a particular moment in time. Judith Ryan, Senior Curator of Indigenous Art at the National Gallery of Victoria (NGV) in Melbourne, immediately responded to them and acknowledged their significance, and has since added them to the Gallery’s collection of batiks. I have written about the history of these batiks in the NGV catalogue, Across the desert.4 Their significance arises partly from the time of their making, just after the first workshop 4
See Marina Strocchi, ‘Before painting: The Kintore batiks’, in Judith Ryan (ed.), Across the desert, Aboriginal batik from Central Australia, National Gallery of Victoria, Melbourne, 2008, pp. 128−34.
of the Kintore/ Haasts Bluff painting project had taken place in Kintore in June 1994. Tjunkiya and Wintjiya Napaltjarri had also recently had their cataracts removed. The Kintore women subsequently had the opportunity to participate in a batik workshop run by Jill Squires and Therese Hogan, who were employed by the Aboriginal Development Unit to run the Ngintaka Women’s Centre. The cloths were to be functional doona covers but were never ‘fixed’, and were providing a bed for the dogs in the Centre when I found them in early 1995. Appreciating the beauty of the designs, the question was how to look after the batiks? I chose the time of the second Kintore/ Haasts Bluff painting workshop (held at Haasts Bluff this time, for two weeks), in the second half of April 1995, to fix the cloths. The lengths of cotton were heavy with thick layers of wax. I had no knowledge of batik technique. I was scared the painted images would be lost during the process of removing the wax. After seeking expert advice, I boiled the fabric in bore water and the suggested cocktail of chemicals, all the while terrified of losing the designs. Despite the fixing agents having a slight impact on the colour, the batiks are strong images, created by women who would later become internationally renowned for their painting. James Bennett has since suggested that the bore water probably muted the original intensity of the dyes. Nevertheless, the designs are exceptional. These batiks from Kintore have qualities that make one think of the cave paintings in the central desert. There is a graffiti-like quality to the lines, and a sense of urgency in the execution of them – the hot fluid wax is difficult to control. The marks on these batiks are clearly a script with the intent of communicating. The colours and markings have a unique quality, distinct from those made in Utopia and elsewhere, sort of ethereal. Starting the unstoppable: Women’s painting at Haasts Bluff and Kintore Zara Stanhope Australian Aboriginal Art, Issue 1, 2009
Left Page: Marina Strocchi’s easel at Kangaroo Valley, 2018 Source: © Photo courtesy of Marina Strocchi
Marina Strocchi, West Chester County, New York, 2019 Source: Â© Photo courtesy of Sandra Wong Geroux
Domestic life paintings welcome viewers to a straightforward visual grid in which Marina draws upon animals and plant shapes and landscape contours. The two-dimensional perspective conveys flatness of the scenes, but dynamism at the same time, appearing in a state of constant and rhythmic flux. Marina represents patterns of nature without abstracting their pure forms and rejecting any intricate pictorial technique. She provides the key to reading the repetition of these forms and lets the viewer perceive their inner representation of patterns. The contrast amongst colours in this series of work is perceptual, as Marina paints conceptual expressions that transcend the boundaries of rationality and open a window that investigates everyoneâ€™s inner self. Marina adds, â€œAs a painter I work in the moment with whatever themes and dreams I have close at hand. I am inspired by my home as is seen in my still life work. I usually use a simple palette and work with texture and layering. I like to create a sense of space in my work as well as a sense of nature or incorporate some of the qualities of nature.â€?
Marina STROCCHI Around the house (red) (2018) Acrylic on Linen 122 x 182cm MS201911002
Marina STROCCHI Animal farm (2013) Acrylic on Linen 122 x 153cm MS201911001
Marina STROCCHI Blue Moon (2013) Acrylic on Linen 122 x 153cm MS201911004
Marina STROCCHI Red Dog (2017) Acrylic on Linen 123 x 138cm MS201911020
Marina STROCCHI Landscape in Blue (2013) Acrylic on Linen 91 x 152.5cm MS201911011
Marina STROCCHI Local Produce (2013) Acrylic on Linen 60 x 65cm MS201911012
Marina STROCCHI Pinstriped and sawtoothed (2015) Acrylic on Linen 56 x 65cm MS201911018
In this series, Marina shapes pure forms from the formless abstraction of intimate domestic life. She represents interiors, ordinary objects of a mundane world, giving a sense of monumentality and gravity to daily life, as it is the mirror of everyone’s interiority. Still life paintings show a clear combination of abstract and figurative imagery and transmit a joyful approach to her works of art. The harmonious shapes of familiar objects are conveyed by milder colour contrasts, although they are conceptually cleared by the intricate link that intertwines the forms as if they are inseparable abstractions from each other. Marina tells us in her own words, “My inspiration has been a combination of landscape, imagination and objects close at hand. I like to create the sense of a net – like a fishing net – a balanced network of lines and shapes where there is a push and pull of elements that create a structure. I try to create a sense of nature even when the subject is inanimate. I like to create organic qualities in my paintings through forms, lines, colours and patterns: patterns of nature, repetitions, and unexpected junctures. This body of work includes still life paintings - the objects that clutter my world at home. They are abstracted still life paintings reflecting the dazzling light and palette of the desert while paying homage to the objects that assist us in getting through a barbeque or a coffee.”
Marina STROCCHI Inside Outside III (2016) Acrylic on Linen 121.5 x 137cm MS201911008
Marina STROCCHI Pink Vessels (2017) Acrylic on Linen 60 x 91cm MS201911017
Marina STROCCHI La Signora II (2016) Acrylic on Linen 65.5 x 80cm MS201911010
Marina STROCCHI Inside Outside V (2016) Acrylic on Linen 56 x 65cm MS201911009
Marina STROCCHI Red Drawing (2011) Acrylic on Linen 30 x 40cm MS201911032
In the landscape series, Marina has painted her experiences of being “out bush”, often using a minimal palette and patterned imagery of people and place. These paintings express a sensitivity to landscape with an awareness of “what lies beneath”, her perceptions drawn from sharing an environment and experience with Indigenous artists. Landscape is quite often the protagonist in Marina works. She creates optical labyrinths and “spatial” tensions between structure and colour. Dynamism and stillness lie at the same time in her canvases, conveying a strong sense of movement while representing the scene in a static and two-dimensional way. She celebrates the country’s land formations, shaped by the brilliant glare of sunlight and the moonbeams that softly embrace the landscape at night. Marina adds, “My work is an intuitive response to nature, in particular the central Australian desert where I have lived since 1992. I work organically, in an attempt to activate the feeling of being in the landscape. I deconstruct and anthropomorphize the landscape and challenge the human-centered viewpoint of nature. Restorative care and reparative action are the points of reference embodied in my environmental work. Through layering of textured mark-making I create the subtle irregularities and patterns of a world where nature is the major stakeholder.”
Marina STROCCHI Port Lincoln parrots - morning (2018) Acrylic on Linen 200 x 150cm MS201911019
Marina STROCCHI The Transit of Venus (2012) Acrylic on Linen 122 x 168cm MS201911034
Marina STROCCHI Pink Moon (2014) Acrylic on Linen 122 x 152cm MS201911014
Marina STROCCHI Northside (2017) Acrylic on Linen 122 x 137.5cm MS201911013
Marina STROCCHI Pink Pastures (state II) (2014) Acrylic on Linen 121 x 137cm MS201911016
Marina STROCCHI Camels on the move (2017) Acrylic on Linen 100 x 108cm MS201911005
Camel at King’s Canyon Source: © Photo courtesy of Marina Strocchi
Marina STROCCHI At the farm (2017) Acrylic on Linen 65.5 x 120cm MS201911003
Hermannsburg - The Vegetable Garden Tractor Source: ÂŠ Photo courtesy of Marina Strocchi
Marina STROCCHI Fieldwork (red) (2010) Acrylic on Linen 76 x 101cm MS201911025
Marina STROCCHI Alligator Rivers (2006) Acrylic on Linen 60 x 90cm MS201911027
Marina STROCCHI Mangroves and the Farm (2014) Acrylic on Linen 51 x 76cm MS201911030
Marina STROCCHI Pink Mulgas and Three Cats (state II) (2015) Acrylic on Linen 55 x 66cm MS201911015
Marina STROCCHI Top End Cats (2013) Acrylic on Linen 56 x 65cm MS201911023
Marina STROCCHI Three Boats (miniature) (2014) Acrylic on Linen 30.5 x 41cm MS201911022
Marina STROCCHI Diggerâ€™s Dream (2011) Acrylic on Linen 30 x 40cm MS201911024
Marina STROCCHI Three cats (2008) Acrylic on Linen 30 x 40cm MS201911026
Marina STROCCHI Roma (2011) Acrylic on Linen 30 x 40cm MS201911033
The escarpment works were inspired by a residency at Kangaroo Valley in NSW, one of only seven enclosed valleys in the world. The striking impact of the Escarpment series leads the viewer to a struggle between seeing the flat aerial perspective and the colour contrast used to draw the lines dividing the space in the canvases. Rich colours and thick lines segment these paintings into the boulders of the escarpment, recalling the fractures, cracks and natural cliffs within the rocky landscape. Deep and dark fractures bear witness to the identity of that territory, a visceral reminder that this place was once populated by Australia’s first people and still lives and preserves the mankind’s millennial heritage. It is not only the lines that shape the landscape, but also the contrast of the colour palette used, that captures the forms and reprocesses them, embodying the light that softly caresses the wild Australian territory and moulds the escarpment. Marina adds “There is dense bush at the top and foot of the escarpments, which in my eye frames and contrasts with the rock face. As the day progresses from dawn to dusk the sunlight creates a natural light show, animating the escarpments and all their details. My paintings from the valley try to capture the forms within the escarpment, the light and the unique feeling of being dwarfed by the power of nature and the history that accompanies it.”
Kangaroo Valley Source: ÂŠ Photo courtesy of Marina Strocchi
Marina STROCCHI Escarpment (Red) (2018) Acrylic on Linen 183 x 213cm MS201911007
Marina STROCCHI Escarpment (Blue) (2018) Acrylic on Linen 183 x 199.5cm MS201911028
Marina STROCCHI Escarpment (Blue) II (2018) Acrylic on Linen 153 x 199cm MS201911006
Marina STROCCHI Totem (2018) Acrylic on Linen 168 x 61cm MS201911035
Marina STROCCHI Escarpment at dusk II (2019) Acrylic on Linen 75 x 92cm MS201911029
Marina STROCCHI Ode to W.E. (2018) Acrylic on Linen 61 x 65cm MS201911031
Marina STROCCHI Rocks Petite (2018) Acrylic on Linen 40 x 50cm MS201911021
With thanks to Marina Strocchi
Marina Strocchi in her Studio Source: ÂŠ Photo courtesy of Marina Strocchi
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REDOT FINE ART GALLERY is honoured to present a very special online exhibition for the very talented Alice Springs based artist, Marina Stro...
Published on Jan 3, 2020
REDOT FINE ART GALLERY is honoured to present a very special online exhibition for the very talented Alice Springs based artist, Marina Stro...