The exhibition Ever Present: The Art of Australia’s First Peoples features 150 works by Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander artists and is currently on display at the National Gallery Singapore until September 25, 2022.
Spread over three galleries, Always present is the largest exhibition of its kind to travel from Australia to Asia. It provides a narrative of the roots, culture, complex history and struggle of Australia’s First Peoples.
Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Art and Culture
The first section of the exhibition is based on the theme Ancestors + Creators. It explores the complex belief system known as Dream. It describes how culture, kinship and country were created by the Ancestors. Dream stories are seen as “always present” rather than events of the past.
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Other themes in this first gallery include Countries + Constellations and Community + Family.
Culture + Ceremony and Trade + Influence are explored through the works of art in the second gallery.
One of the most striking exhibits is a crocodile shark mask by Alick Tipoti which depicts ceremonial totems.
A special commission is Untitled (walam-wunga.galang) by Jonathan Jones. It is made up of large-scale millstones and millstones, a reference to the early harvesting of plant species by Aboriginal people.
The last part of Always present at the National Gallery of Singapore, Resistance + Colonization, explores the struggle of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples against European colonizers and social and political injustices. The artworks also reflect the pride, resilience and courage of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples.
For children, some works have been marked with special GalleryKids signs. These provide questions that engage children and guide them to ask questions to examine the different works of art.
At the Hôtel de Ville, the Chamber also Embassy by Richard Bell, an installation based on the Indigenous rights movement. Note that this installation has strong language.
Ever Present: The Art of Australia’s First Peoples at the National Gallery of Singapore
Ever Present: The Art of Australia’s First Peoples is through September 25, 2022 at the SingTel Special Exhibition Gallery. A general admission ticket is required (free for Singaporeans and permanent residents).