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 Tracy 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.
Hang Me Out To Dry belongs to Leanne Waterhouse's Cumulus series, born out of her 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.
Starts and Finishes (Paintings for Spiders) is a new body of work exploring through painting processes the important role and relationships of spiders in the natural world. The project examines the physical nature of spider vision and explores ways to translate this visually into paintings and painted objects. Scientists have widely recognised and celebrated the dexterity of spider vision, however little for visual output exists that demonstrates the viewpoint of the spider. The intention of this project is to produce works that represent the capability of spider vision and movement while considering an insect’s point of view in the world we occupy. This project belongs to a decade of investigation into the relationship between painting and the natural world, focused primarily on garden processes.
Luke Pither (b. 1975) trained in painting and printmaking at RMIT, Melbourne in 1994 before deferring to concentrate on a self-directed practice that combines the study of movement, colour physics and gardening in projects traversing multiple visual platforms. Between 1997 and 2010 he worked extensively in set design, dramaturgy and choreographic projects in Europe and Australia. Since 2002 he has designed permaculture and organic gardens in Australia as well as working collaboratively with permaculture design consultancy Very Edible Gardens, Melbourne. Pither has held solo exhibitions in Melbourne, Sydney, Germany (Berlin and Adlershof) and Antwerp (Netherlands), and his work is held in numerous public and private collections in Australia and overseas.
Dress Me Featherless
Gallery 2 + Screenroom + Boxset
Curator: Fiona Gavino
Artists: Shinya Akutagawa, Lyra Garcellano, Mark Salvatus, Mark Valenzuela,
The Philippines is a place of rich ethnicities where the people have tenaciously struggled for some 380 years against colonial tyranny and neocolonial occupation. Dress Me Featherless addresses this diversity and history in the contemporary ‘postcolonial’ present through new work by 4 early-career artists who are either from the Philippines or who have ongoing ties with the country. Through sculpture, film, and installation, the artists seek to challenge status quos and stereotypes concerning identity – national and individual. Curated by Fremantle (WA)-based Fiona Gavino as an outcome of her 2014 Asialink residency in Manila.
Shinya Akutagwa (Japan, Bangkok) is a conceptual artist who works with mixed media, installation, video and sound. He has studied painting, video and film, often using computer programming to combine interactive and architectural ideas to convey his concepts. akutagawashinya.com
Lyra Garcellano (Philippines) primarily works with installation and painting. Her works revolve around the politics of identity and are anchored in issues of displacement, movement, history and memory. lyragarcellano.com
Mark Salvatus (Philippines) works with familiar objects, chance encounters and everyday politics in a practice that involves various media from drawing, installation, photography, video, and street art to interactive and participatory projects. marksalvatus.blogspot.com.au
Mark Valenzuela (Philippines/Australia) has a practice which combines painting, drawing and ceramic installation. Internal and external conflict, anxiety and repetition are residing themes that Valenzuela explores to reveal the ways that an individual adjusts, conforms and rebels against his/herself and the society in which they live.
Fiona Gavino is an artist and curator currently based in Fremantle, WA (since 2008), after 12 years living in the NT where her cross-cultural weaving-based practice developed, and from where she curated two touring exhibitions largely comprising weaving/textile-based work: Call and Response (2006-07), and Organic Matters (2001). She recently curated the Perth International Arts Festival exhibition Yirrkala: works on paper, barks, sculpture at the Uni of WA’s Lawrence Wilson Art Gallery. Gavino’s practice encompasses sculpture, film, and installation. Her work is featured in Hot Springs, the Northern Territory & Contemporary Australian Artists (2012).
Barayuwa Munungurr, Ruark Lewis, Bengitj Ngurruwuthun, Jeffrey Ngurruwuthun
Opening Thursday 6 August, 3pm
Gallery 1 + Gallery 2 + Screenroom + Boxset
Rambangi / Together as equals explores the cultural poetics and politics of the homeland movement through a collaborative installation-based project involving 3 custodians of the Yarrinya site (a saltwater estate in Blue Mud Bay, north-east Arnhem Land) and a Sydney-based artist. The project stems from a history of collaboration since 2009 between Yirrkala-based artist Barayuwa Munungurr and Sydney-based artist Ruark Lewis, along with the involvement of Bengitj Ngurruwuthun and Jeffrey Ngurruwuthun. One of the key ancestral stories embedded at this site involves the ritual carving-up of the flesh and body of an ancestral whale, Mirinyungu, by Munyuku spirit men (Wurramala or Matjitji) who are brothers of Mirinyungu. The story holds significant and sacred ceremonial knowledge for Munyuku people and is manifest through myriad features of the Yarrinya coast.
All 4 artists will converge in Darwin for the realisation of an exhibition involving a wall-based installation, a traditional bark shelter, film, photography, bark painting, sculpture, and performance. The exhibition will take up NCCArt’s entire gallery spaces (Gallery 1, Gallery 2, Boxset and Screenroom) and is presented in association with Buku-Larrnggay Mulka Centre, Yirrkala, and as part of the 2015 Darwin Festival program.
Barayuwa Munungurr (b. 1980; also known as Djirkurrul, Gulukurru) is an early-career artist based at Yirrkala. Barayuwa largely paints the designs of his mother Bengitj’s homeland, Yarrinya (through Munyuku clan ties), which is also the motherland of his grandfather, Wonggu Munungurr, one of Donald Thomson’s key informants in the mid-1930s. As well as painting, Barayuwa makes spears, spear-throwers, clapsticks and yidakis. He is also a talented yidaki player. After showing in Buku-Larrnggay’s Young Guns II exhibition at Annandale Galleries, Sydney in 2008, Barayuwa held his first solo exhibition at Indigenart, The Mossenson Galleries, Perth in 2009. Barayuwa was represented in the MCA’s Primavera exhibition in 2014.
Bengitj Ngurruwuthun (b. 1954) is an artist, educator and linguist. She is the mother of Barayuwa, and sister of Dula and Gambali Ngurruwuthun, the great ritual specialists of the region during the 1970s through to the turn of last century. As an artist, Bengitj makes paintings and sculptures (including larrakitj/hollow log coffins) which usually relate to Yarrinya. Bengitj has played a central role in Barayuwa’s ongoing collaboration with Ruark, as a senior cultural adviser and in providing English translations of the Yolngu concepts and subjects underpinning Barayuwa’s art.
Jeffrey Ngurruwuthun (b. 1978) is Barayuwa’s cousin, and fellow custodian of Yarrinya and surrounding Munyuku clan country through his role as a songman. Jeffrey has performed with Barayuwa and Bengitj at several exhibition openings including for the 2014 Primavera exhibition at the MCA, Sydney and previously in Sydney at the Australian Museum, Cross Art Projects and Macquarie University Gallery.
Ruark Lewis (b. 1960) is a Sydney-based visual artist and writer. He works in a wide range of media such as painting, drawing, installation, artists-books, performance, public art, theatre and audio-video works. A graduate of the Sydney College of Arts, Lewis’s first professional position was Curator of poetry readings at the Art Gallery of NSW between 1984 and 1988; his first solo exhibitions (in Sydney) were transcriptions of sound and music, titled Transcription Drawings. Collaboration has played a central role in Lewis’s multidisciplinary practice, and has seen him work with Paul Carter, Rik Rue, Amanda Stewart, and Jonathan Jones (among others) who first introduced Lewis to Barayuwa in 2009. Lewis was the subject of a two-part survey exhibition at Hazelhurst Regional Gallery & Arts Centre and Macquarie University Gallery in 2012/13, which forms the basis of his forthcoming monograph Thoughtlines.