Machinations is an exhibition in Gallery 2 consisting of new large-scale, screenprinted poster works which survey military aviation machines currently used by The Australian Defence Force, including fighters, carriers and drones (UAVs: Unmanned Aerial Vehicles) which are increasingly used in the surveillance of Australian waters. Mutton’s imagery also taps into principles of ‘dazzle’ camouflage design – complex geometric patterning developed during World War I and used in Australian propaganda posters.
This body of work developed out of an artist-residency at Megalo Print Studio + Gallery, Canberra in 2015, and continues the artist’s exploration into the relationship that nations and communities have with the technology of war, as seen in previous exhibitions such as Rise of the Machines (2014), and Post War: Thousand Mile Stare (2015). ‘I am interested in the romanticism associated with military flying machines’, Mutton muses, ‘and the seeming disconnect with their capability as enablers of destruction and/or superintendence.’
Katy is an early-career visual artist who has held a number of solo exhibitions over the past 5 years, and participated in numerous group exhibitions including Women, the Homefront & War (Hawkesbury Regional Gallery, 2016), and Guarding the Homefront, Casula Powerhouse (2015). A graduate in printmedia and drawing from the Australian National University, these two mediums continue to inform her practice along with work in sculpture/installation. Katy has been the recipient of several prestigious grants/fellowships: in 2014 she was honoured with the Canberra Critics Circle Visual Arts Award for her solo exhibition Rise of the Machines, and with a Print Council of Australia Print Commission in 2016.
The works in Domestic Bliss (showing in NCCA's Screenroom) are made by emerging artists and first-time collaborators Liz Grylls and Nadine Lee. Each work uses the humble tea towel as the starting point to express more than the notion of ‘Stay Calm and Keep Drying’. As a common household item, the tea towel features in this exhibition as both a canvas and an analogy for home life. Both Liz and Nadine have a number of identities including artist, parent, partner, cultural representative. It is often easy to compartmentalise each identity, however Domestic Bliss seeks to highlight that regardless of what identity an individual may have or be assumed to have, they also have ideas and thoughts that are far greater than one single identity.
Liz enjoys working in a range of mediums and has used tea towels previously for works combining printed images and embroidered text, sometimes without any apparent correlation. In comparison, the embroidered text in Nadine’s tea towels raises direct questions based on the tea towel's use and the users themselves; for example, as symbols of forced domestic help, collectables, or as pieces of art.
Both Liz and Nadine live and work in Darwin. They have both completed a Bachelor of Creative Arts and Industries (Fine Arts/Visual Arts) from Charles Darwin University. Liz has completed Honours in Creative Arts and Industries (Fine Arts) at CDU while Nadine is currently completing an Honours degree (Visual Art) at CDU. Nadine has previously shown work in NCCA’s Boxset (2015).
Seven Sisters is an installation of painted hubcaps in NCCA's Boxset, referencing the ancestral sisters who are chased by Artwele, an old man also known as the Morning Star, or Kwerralye Pule. The artist writes:
The Seven Sisters are really important to all the women of my family. They are really important to all the other women across Central Australia. I call them Peltharre Sisters – that’s Arrernte. It means the same as Napaljarri. You might have heard that word? That’s the Seven Sisters’ skin name ... their section, all across Central Australia. A person’s skin tells them where they fit with everyone else. Anyway, the Seven Sisters got so tired of Artwele chasing them across the country that they jumped up into the sky to escape all the men who make trouble for women, just like him. But Artwele, he just jumped up after them and he’s still chasing those Seven Sisters up there in the sky. We see him every morning, still chasing them, poor things.
Jane Young is an Arrernte artist who is based in Alice Springs and works through Tangentyere Artists for which she is a founding member (2005). She and her family were also founding members of Keringke Arts at Santa Teresa (from the late 1980s). Jane has been exhibiting through Tangentyere Artists since 2006, mostly in group exhibitions. She generally paints on recycled metal and plastic hubcaps as well as linen. ‘I like to paint the shimmering of the little rocks in the Simpson Desert’, writes Jane, which accounts for the dense patterning and detail of her paintings and recalls her childhood spent with her grandmother taking her to special places in country. Other subjects include landscapes and bush tucker from the region. Jane is currently the Chair of Desart. In 2011, Jane’s work was part of the Darwin Festival Lighthouse Commission.
Ann Newmarch (b. 1945) O.A.M is a senior South Australian artist who was at the vanguard of feminist art in Australia in the early 1970s, making her mark as a printmaker, photographer, and painter in particular, and through community-engaged, activist projects such as public murals and, in part, her latest exhibition, … as the Serpent Struggles. Ann produced this significant body of paintings and prints during the 1980s, inspired by her experience of the Central and Western Desert areas of the NT and SA and by the challenge of a postcolonial view.
Ann’s engagement with Aboriginal art in these works is prescient of broader debates around cultural authenticity and representation, as surveyed by the later seminal exhibition From Appropriation to Appreciation (Flinders University Art Museum, 1988) which included her work.
The exhibition’s central motif of the car or car-wreck in the desert predates the cliché, just as Ann’s approach (to) and treatment of a desert Aboriginal aesthetic (in ‘dot’ painting) came at a time when the so-called desert acrylic-on-canvas movement was first beginning to take hold. Ann’s work responds to the immediacy of this movement and to the presence and palette of Aboriginal desert iconography. Her dotting/pixilation is also about the screen – both as and in reference to screenprinting and screen-mediated culture.
‘An artist has a responsibility as an image-maker to concerns wider than herself or her art’, says Ann, quoted in a recent article in The Australian about her politicised screenprints (Bronwyn Watson, ‘Ann Newmarch print at Flinders Uni tackles radiation and birth defects’, 16 July 2016). ‘It’s not much use being concerned only about women’s art when uranium is being mined and Aborigines are losing their land, and when Uncle Sam stings your armpit and your kids want to eat at Hungry Jack’s, and when TV takes the place of learning and doing.’
Since 1969, Ann Newmarch has presented over 30 solo exhibitions and participated in over 100 significant group exhibitions, including the well-known WACK! Art and the Feminist Revolution international exhibition, Museum of Contemporary Art, Los Angeles (2007) in which she was the only Australian artist represented. … as the Serpent Struggles is timed to coincide with the WOW (Women of the World) Festival, GYRACC, Katherine, 16-18 September, at which a number of prints by Ann will also be on display.