Showing in NCCA's Boxset Tin Lids is an assemblage of embossed tea canister lids which were given to the artist by a friend, and painted with indigo blue oil paint. The tin lids come from London as does the artist whose grandparents were Cockneys from the poorer East End of London. Products such as tea and indigo were once imported by boat from the far East into the East India Docks, now 'Docklands' area of London. ‘Tin Lids’ is also Cockney slang for ‘kids’ and so this work encapsulates both Dowell’s London childhood and heritage as well as her philosophy of recycling and repurposing objects for her art.
‘They [the lids] are all the same’, writes Dowell, ‘but each one is different, like my pop William Eedle who had 6 siblings, and my nan Emily Cox who was the oldest of 11 siblings’. Dowell relates the repetitious patterning of numbers and letters on the lids to the work of Yayoi Kusama, with the late Rosalie Gascoigne also a conscious influence in her use of resonant found objects.
Alison Dowell is a Darwin-based artist and art teacher who has extensive experience in community-based arts. She works in a range of mediums and has exhibited in a range of gallery and public art/event settings. She was the overall winner of the annual Rights On Show Award in 2013, and of the Pine Creek Art Acquisition Prize in 2015.
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.
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).
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.
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.
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.
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.
Artmart 2015 is a 3-day pop-up exhibition to bring in the early dry with one last deluge of mainly local visual arts talent. A new NCCArt initiative, Artmart serves to make contemporary art accessible and Parap’s art gallery hub better known. The event’s opening on Friday 8 May will launch the new ‘Visit Parap Galleries’ identity with Nomad Art and Outstation galleries. The exhibition features the work of 15 artists and is complemented by the launch of The Vault - pure cinema, a monthly series of arthouse & historic films curated by Koulla Roussos, and by a solo dance performance, Point of Light, choreographed by by Lizzi Webb and performed by Kelly Beneforti.
Artmart exhibiting artists: Aly de Groot, Annie Moors, Bryan Bulley, Catherine McAvoy, Darlene Devery, David Collins, Elise Derwin, Flanna Lindsay, Guykuda Munungurr, Jason Lee, Jonathon Saunders, Karen Mills, Matthew van Roden, Sonia Martignon & Victor De Sousa Pereira
Friday 8 May
5.30 - 6pm: Merran Sierakowski exhibition opening, Nomad Art
6 - 9pm: Artmart 2015 opening, NCCArt, including Launch of Visit Parap Galleries brand
7.30pm: Point of Light, NCCArt Screenroom
Outstation Gallery open till 9pm
Saturday 9 May:
9am - 3pm: Artmart 2015 open, NCCArt
2.30pm: Launch of The Vault - pure cinema: five short films
Sunday 10 May:
10am - 3pm: Artmart 2015 open, NCCArt
For larger images and image details, please see artist bios doc below
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 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
In Gallery 2, the Un-resettling series (2014) 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 at NCCArt draws on Tylor's Un-resettling (happenings) series (8 hand-coloured photographic prints) which is complemented by his Un-resettling (dwellings) series (but not showing at NCCArt). Both series 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)', 2014, hand-coloured inkjet print on photorag paper, 50x 50cm; image courtesy the artist
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
They do not go away from our reflection and memory easily. In fact, we may hang on to them intentionally and memorialise their value in our lives. (John Harvey, 2002)
'The main impact and conceptual idea of this body of work comes from loss of family and friends in 2014’, writes Larrakia artist Nadine Lee of Healing, a work which she produced as part of her visual arts studies at Charles Darwin University. ‘I wanted tactile mediums to work with’, she writes, her use of mica, muslin and driftwood allowing viewers ‘to touch, remember and reflect on the family and friends that have passed away, as if to have contact with each of them respectively for the last time.’
The mica in this work comes from Mica Beach on the Cox Peninsula in Larrakia country, where the Indigenous-owned and operated Balunu Foundation runs spiritual and cultural healing programs for Indigenous youth and families. The work’s fabric support is muslin which Lee likens to ‘skin that breaks down over time like our skin’. ‘Staining the muslin with tea’, writes Lee, ‘is a tribute to my grandfather who only drank black tea'. Lee cites two key influences in this work: the textile-based installation and oral history storytelling in the work of Murri artist Dale Harding, and the large-scale mixed-media memento mori expressions of fellow Murri artist Danie Mellor.
Lee is in the final year of a Bachelor of Creative Arts (Visual Arts) degree at Charles Darwin University, with her practice developing an interest in textiles, installation, jewellery and film.
The Screen Room shows Romaine Moreton’s Ragtag (2014) film which documents a demonstration by Moreton and fellow artists/activists at the (then) new fountain sculpture at Echo Point, Katoomba, at the ‘Three Sisters’ Blue Mountains tourist site (NSW). While the demonstration is relatively simple and clear in its intention, the resulting film, as a mediated performance, makes for a raw, compelling and somewhat less clear-cut portrayal of the collision and very performance of culture(s): Aboriginal, tourist, art-activist, national, and communal. Since the artist’s Ragtag experiment/intervention, the sculpture has been removed from public display.
Romaine Moreton is a celebrated writer, filmmaker and performance poet with a PhD in Philosophy. She hails from the Goernpil people of Stradbroke Island and the Bundjulung people of northern New South Wales. She has directed two award-winning short films (The Farm, 2011), and The Oysterman (2013), and is currently developing a new feature film. She has shown her work at the Cannes Film Festival (1999), and she was represented at the last documenta (13), Germany (2011), through the publication of her anthology Poems from a Homeland. Moreton is currently a Research Fellow/Filmmaker in Residence in the School of Media, Film, and Journalism at Monash University, Melbourne.
Romaine Moreton, 'Ragtag', 2014, still from High Definition video: 8min:14sec; image courtesy the artist; photo © Amanda James
In Gallery 2, Sometimes, Something will be a site-specific installation incorporating elements of mural painting, sculpture, and paintings in still life and portraiture. Sadat’s painting style references Indonesian traditions of decorative mural painting in which everyday subjects such as farm animals and edible plants are depicted, ‘reminding us’, states Sadat, ‘of the value of these things as giving life’. Similarly, Sadat’s work concerns itself with issues of consumption and ecological (im)balance, from the point of view of a (Jogja) city dweller and with a nod to a simple, sustainable life.
Sadat Laope is an early-career artist from Sulawesi and based in Jogyakarta, central Java, Indonesia. A graduate of the Indonesian Institute of Art (ISI, Jogjakarta, in 2007) with a major in printmaking, Sadat has held solo exhibitions at prominent Jogja art venues such as Kedai Kebun Forum, Indonesian Visual art Archive (IVAA), and the Jogja National Museum. He maintains a diverse practice through mediums including woodblock printing, drawing, painting, zine-making/artists books, and performance art. He is an active a member of the Jogja performance art group Performance Klub.
Sadat Laope, 'Sometimes, something', 2015, installation detail, NCCArt