Seven artworks by a new generation of Yuendumu artists are now on display at the Australian Museum – 30 years after the museum held a world first: an exhibition by female Aboriginal artists.
In 1982, nine Warlpiri artists travelled from Yuendumu, in the Northern Territory’s Tanami Desert, to dance and display their painted wooden objects in the Australian Museum’s ‘Women Artists’ exhibition.
Dr Scott Mitchell, Head, Culture, Conservation and Collecting, Australian Museum said the groundbreaking exhibition showcased female artists who had only just begun to experiment with painting for a wider audience.
“Thirty years ago, the Aboriginal art ‘industry’ barely existed, and even the dot-painting artists from Papunya were struggling to be recognised,” said Dr Mitchell.
“Since 1982, Yuendumu artists have held more than 1000 exhibitions, achieving incredible commercial and critical recognition as some of Australia’s leading visual artists.”
The Australian Museum recently commissioned a new series of paintings by Yuendumu artists to add to its collection of the several hundred painted objects from the groundbreaking 1982 exhibition.
This exploration of the evolution of contemporary art practice in Yuendumu was supported through an Australian Museum Foundation grant funded by a bequest from the Patricia M Porritt Acquisition Fund.
The seven canvases from a new generation of artists are now on display alongside eight women’s dance boards and archival images from the ‘Women Artists’ exhibition.
The new works build upon and reference the unique collection of art drawn from the community a generation earlier while showing that Yuendumu artists are still finding new ways to express their traditional stories.
“Just a handful of the early works are painted on canvas; most are on carved wooden objects such as dance boards, bowls, carved eggs, clap sticks and digging sticks. Unlike today, many of the works were painted with fingers rather than brushes,” Dr Mitchell said.
“Yet striking connections exist between the early and modern works with the jukurrpa (or dreamtime) stories of the powerful ancestors who created the landscape and its inhabitants continuing to be the central inspiration for Yuendumu painters,” Dr Mitchell said.
The contemporary artists featured comprise:
- Alma Nungarrayi Granites
- Judy Napangardi Watson
- Liddy Napanangka Walker
- Maggie Napaljarri Ross
- Otto Jungarrayi Sims
- Shorty Jangala Robertson
- Sabrina Nangala Robertson
Same jukurrpa same country is FREE with general Museum entry and on display until October 2015.