In Gallery 1, Two Fields is a photographic journey through two of the most mythological periods of Australian history: The Gallipoli Campaign and the frontier conflicts between Indigenous Australians and white settlers. The latter, writes Darwin-based Glenn Campbell, also represents a war, ‘though undeclared in a legal sense, that defined our nation as much as the ANZAC Campaign’. Glenn Campbell is no stranger to zones of conflict through his work as a photojournalist at home and abroad and as an Australian War Memorial official photographer. For this series he has travelled across Australia and to ANZAC Cove searching for links between the nation’s pathological reverence for the myth of ANZAC and its amnesia regarding its own frontier battles.
Glenn Campbell has been producing image-driven stories from around Australia and Southeast Asia for nearly 20 years, including the past decade or so based in Darwin. In 2011, Campbell was honoured with a Walkley Award for his photo essay Stolen Spirits documenting the return of ancestral remains to tribal lands in Arnhem Land. Apart from his newspaper reportage-related work, Campbell has initiated several photographic and multimedia projects for exhibition, mostly reflecting his interest in sites of wartime and memorial interest. He was a co-curator for the inaugural edition of the NCCA exhibition PROOF: Photo Essays from the Top End (2014).
Glenn Campbell, 'Lone Pine', 2013, photographic print; image courtesy the artist
In Gallery 2, the Un-resettling series (2013) explores the paradox of practising traditional Indigenous culture in National parks, conservation parks and recreational bushland. These public spaces seemingly advertise that Indigenous people still continue a traditional connection to the location, although it is illegal to remove objects or disturb the landscape. This restriction prevents Indigenous people from hunting, gathering food, or removing materials and building Indigenous architectural structures such as fishtraps and dwellings in these public reserves. Un-resettling draws on two related bodies of work: Un-resettling (dwellings) and Un-resettling (happenings). These series seek to place traditional Indigenous dwellings back into the landscape as a public reminder that they once appeared throughout the area. They also highlight the removal of Indigenous people and their culture from these public areas where the land is only now used for public enjoyment.
James Tylor is a Masters (Visual Art) graduate from the South Australian School of Art, University of South Australia. His work explores Australia’s cultural representation through alternative photography mediums, sculpture, installation and video inspired by his multi-racial heritage involving Aboriginal, English and Maori-Australian ancestry. Tylor’s work features in Australian public and private collections; he is represented by Marshall Arts Gallery, SA; Vivien Anderson Gallery, VIC; and Paul McNamara Gallery, NZ.
James Tylor, 'Un-resettling (Hunting Kangaroo)', 2013, hand-coloured inkjet print on photorag paper, 50x 50cm; image courtesy the artist
In the Screen Room, Tep Tok (2015) is a documentary feature film that focuses on the art and heritage of tattooing in the Central Province of Papua New Guinea. Exploring and to some degree reviving this heritage are four women of Papua New Guinean and Australian descent (Julia Mage'au Gray, Paia Ingram, Ranu James & Natalie Richards). The film follows their journey from Australia to Papua New Guinea, New Zealand, Samoa, Tahiti, the Cook Islands, and back. A particular focus of the documentary is the changes in Papua New Guinean society as reflected through the stories of the protagonists as young mixed-race women adapting and (re)creating a culture to which they belong but from which they have also been apart.
Tep Tok was made over the past 3 years as a fully self-funded project by Sunameke Productions, a dance/performance company formed in Adelaide in 1997 by Julia Gray, Yolanda Gray, Katrina Sonter and Samantha Sonter. Soon after the group relocated to Darwin, the hometown of its founders, quickly establishing itself as a ‘multicultural force’. While the group originally formed around a shared Papua New Guinean heritage, its members, influences and collaborative projects have since diversified.
Editor: Julia Mage'au Gray
Camera: Julia Mage'au Gray, Ranu James, Natalie Richards, Moale Jam, Paia Ingram, Peta Khan, Peter Sipeli, Terry Klavenes
Paia getting tattooed in Samoa by Suluape; image courtesy Sunameke Productions
Is the structure of our DNA merely the mountain upon which our Ancestors are calling?
As I was adopted from an early age into a White/Caucasian family I am interested in exploring the Nature Vs Nurture debate, the question of whether ancestral nature (our DNA/genetic imprint) holds more sway than immediate environmental (social/cultural) factors. I wasn’t really exposed to my own Papua New Guinean culture till later in life but I have always been drawn to certain patterns and remember, during lunch breaks at primary school, even recreating traditional tapa-making methods despite never having been shown a finished work of tapa bark cloth let alone taught the traditional methods.
Through Ancestral Imprint I seek to weave a translation of generational knowledge through blood and intuition. The work incorporates my own tapa design heritage from the Oro Province, northern Papua New Guinea, where tapa cloth-making and designs are traditionally passed down from mother to daughter.
Weniki Hensch grew up in Brisbane and as a young adult headed to Currumbin, on the Gold Coast, where she learned the art of surfboard spraying before moving to Melbourne where she undertook training in traditional stained glass and restoration techniques. She exhibited her first glass piece as part of the international skateboard exhibition No Comply (2008). Since then Weniki has been exploring and strengthening her techniques in acrylic and watercolour painting through travel and work between the Warlukurlangu Artists Aboriginal Corporation in Yuendumu, Alice Springs, and Melbourne over the last six years. Her most recent work was shown as part of the 18C exhibition (2014) at Melbourne’s Blak Dot Gallery which was curated in response to the proposed removal of sections 18B-E of the Racial Discrimination Act.
After recently moving to Darwin ‘on a whim’, Weniki has felt ‘both invigorated and compelled by the all-consuming silk of sweat and monsoonal rains’. Ancestral Imprint is her first installation-based work and represents a new direction in exploring her (and her daughter’s) Papua New Guinean heritage and identity.
In June 2014, six Sydney artists were invited to travel north to Darwin to meet with artists, curators, and arts organisations in order to share in the cultural and geographic diversity between Australia’s northern and eastern states. North is the result of this journey, an exhibition that presents six varying responses to the cultural, economic and human history of Darwin, reimagined – indeed, for some of the artists, seen for the first time – through the eyes of strangers. Though varied in their approach, the works in North ultimately consider the notion of distance; exposing a complex and often contradictory dialogue between who we are and where we live.
North is presented by the SYD/DRW Project, an ongoing venture which aims to foster creative collaboration between Sydney and Darwin-based arts organisations and artists. To be shown in Gallery 1 and featuring work in a range of mediums by ex-Darwin now Sydney-based Harriet Body along with Sydney-based Belem Lett, Stella Rosa McDonald, Siân McIntyre, Peter Nelson, and Paul Williams.
Darwin-based photographer Baz Ledwidge has been chronicling life in the Top End for over 40 years. He moved to Darwin in 1974 not long before Cyclone Tracey and was one of the first to photograph the city in the wake of the cyclone’s aftermath. His camera has documented events both epic and small along with the famous and the infamous characters that made and continue to make the city and region move to its own unique beat. Indeed Ledwidge has not been a detached observer in this overall process. Darwin Daze includes images of his own unique social and larrikin-esque affiliations (such as the Darwin Rocksitters’ Club). The exhibition comprises a selection of around 35 photographic prints in Gallery 2 along the themes of ‘Characters’ and ‘Lifestyle’, and a larger selection of images projected in the Screen Room.
Baz Ledwidge’s photographic career began with a cadetship at age 17 working for the Wagga Daily Advertiser in his hometown Wagga Wagga, New South Wales. There he was thrown into the thick of it, ‘sent from football matches to murders, car accidents to street parades’. After a variety of jobs in London and Papua New Guinea, Ledwidge picked up photography again when he settled in Darwin, initially employed by the federal AIS (Australian Information Service) and later as the photographer at the Northern Territory University (now Charles Darwin University), a position he held for 22 years. Ledwidge was one of the co-founders of Darwin’s independent Star newspaper. He continues to work in Darwin as a freelance photographer.
Cumulus is a series born out of Leanne Waterhouse’s decade spent living in Darwin/the Top End, an experience which she has been able to reflect on more objectively after moving to Melbourne in 2014 to undertake postgraduate studies at the Victoria College of Arts. Waterhouse writes: ‘I have spent the past year experimenting with a wide range of materials that for me represent my time living in the Northern Territory. I am particularly interested in making work that represents how I have felt over the past 10 years during the build-up periods and wet season. I have in interest in developing further research into the individual responses to living in remote locations that experience extremes in weather.’ Waterhouse will exhibit work from the Cumulus series in the NCCArt Boxset.
Leanne Waterhouse is a Bachelor of Arts (Visual) graduate from Charles Sturt University, NSW (1997) and a Graduate Certificate (Visual Arts) graduate from Victoria College of Arts, Melbourne (2014). She has held solo exhibitions in Darwin and Sydney since 2007, and has curated exhibitions including She’s a Pearler: DVAA Retrospective (2013/14), commemorating the 30th anniversary of Darwin Visual Arts Association where she was Manager 2011-14.