First Nations artists leave their mark in history at the National Gallery of Canada

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The ceremony is at the heart of the 4e National Indigenous Art Triennial, the National Gallery of Australia’s flagship exhibition of contemporary Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander art.

Ceremony remains central to the creative practice of many Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander artists. For the Arrernte and Kalkadoon Woman, Hetti Perkins, Curator of the National Gallery of Australia’s 4th National Indigenous Art Triennial: Ceremonythe concept of iteration is central to ceremonial practice, an acknowledgment of the past, signaling an artist’s conscious engagement with what has come before.

“The ceremony is not a new idea in the context of our unique heritage, but neither is it something that is only in the past. In their works, the artists in this exhibit affirm the dominance of ceremony as a forum for artistic creation today in First Nations communities,” said Perkins.

Penny Evans, K/Gamilaroi people, gudhuwali BURN, 2022, installation view, commissioned by the National Gallery of Australia, Kamberri/Canberra for the 4th National Triennial of Indigenous Art: ceremony with the support of Pamela Pearce and Wally Patterson by courtesy of the Patterson Pearce Foundation, image courtesy and © the artist

“In every ceremonial action, performers leave an individual mark on our history. The ceremony is the link between the country, the culture and the community, and the 4th National Indigenous Art Triennial is another point of a timeless heritage.

The flagship exhibition of contemporary Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander art, on view at Ngambri and Ngunnawal land in Kamberri/Canberra, is free to the public and runs until July 31. It features 18 new sets of works by 38 First Nations artists from across the country.

The extensive exhibition includes works in the National Gallery Sculpture Garden, Fern Garden and on Lake Burley Griffin and brings together a wide range of artists working in a variety of art forms including sculpture, installation, painting , ceramics, moving image and photography.

Nicole Foresight, Wir Guwang (rain sky), 2022, installation view, commissioned by the National Gallery of Australia, Kamberri/Canberra for the 4th National Indigenous Art Triennial: Ceremony, image courtesy and © the artist

An important focus of the exhibit is engagement with regional traditional custodians. Respected elder Dr. Matilda House and her son Paul Girrawah House created Mulanggari yur-wang (alive and strong), a permanent public art installation of tree scars in the National Gallery Sculpture Garden. Carving patterns into living trees and objects from living trees without damaging them is a cultural practice unique to indigenous communities in the Southeast.

Artists from the Yarrenyty Arltere and Tangentyere Artists collectives collaborated in Mparntwe/Alice Springs to create a flexible sculpture in the shape of a black parliament– an Aboriginal vision of the political heart of Australia.

When the nation’s capital’s Lake Burley Griffin was created in 1963, a ceremonial ground near the present National Museum of Australia was flooded. Artist Aṉangu Robert Fielding presents holden on, a creatively resurrected abandoned car whose strategic positioning comments on the political annexation of Ngambri and Ngunnawal lands. These cars are loaded with memory and symbolism: they are associated with the people who owned them and the trips they made to their country of origin.

During the first weeks of the exhibition, artist and writer Wiradjuri SJ Norman inscribed bones of cattle and sheep with Walgalu words to interrogate the impacts of colonization on culture and country as part of his installation BoneLibrary.

National Gallery director Nick Mitzevich said since the National Triennial of Indigenous Art was established in 2007, it has become one of the most important exhibitions for First Nations art, artists and culture. Nations in Australia. “Ceremony continues the First Nations legacy of excellence observed throughout history.

THE ESSENTIALS

What: 4e National Triennial of Indigenous Art: Ceremony
When: Until July 31, 2022
Where: National Gallery of Australia
Web nga.gov.au/niat

Main image: Hayley Millar Baker, Gunditjmara and Djabwurrung people, Nyctinasty2021, installation view, commissioned by the National Gallery of Australia, Kamberri/Canberra for the 4th National Indigenous Art Triennial: Ceremony with support from Kerry Gardner AM and Andrew Myer AM, and the Australian Government through the Australian Arts Council, its arts funding body, courtesy of the artist and Vivien Anderson Gallery © l ‘artist.

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