HELEN MUSA’s weekly arts column features opening concerts and shows in Canberra
General manager of Maruku Arts in Uluru and former Canberran Clive Scollay says it’s rare for the Warburton Arts Project to release works for sale or show, as the main purpose was to keep the collection together for the next generation of Ngaanyatjara artists, but nonetheless 74 works had toured to China to huge acclaim.Maruku Arts, which is hosting the touring exhibition, represents 900 artists and 22 communities in NT, WA and SA, and has been operating for more than 35 years, owned and controlled by the Anangu people from east and west of Central Australia.
Senior artists as well as new talents have works on show, telling powerful stories of the Seven Sisters and women’s law, and in Scollay’s opinion, one or two of the artists showing work could win the “Telstra National Aboriginal & Torres Strait Islander Art Awards” this year.
Among the highlights of the show, according to Scollay, are the “serpents”, created of found mulga wood by senior artist and “snake maker” Billy Cooley, who uses both paint and the burnt wire to adorn the objects.
Curator Natalie McCarthy says the only difficulty in hanging the Warburton works was ensuring that the exceptionally brilliant colours went together well in the hang. She’s been based at Uluru, but is moving on to a similar job in the Kimberley where as with Uluru, she says: “it’s still got the red dirt”.Visiting youth worker Angelica McLean and Valeska Frazer told “CityNews” that there are plenty of young artists on the way up, who have watched their mums, aunties and grandmothers painting and working in wood.
Very different from the Warburton works is a large group work, “A 10 Year Dream”, that resulted from a project spearheaded by former ANU Law student Tess Kelly, now a lawyer with Aboriginal Health Service in Darwin, with the Mutitjulu community in Uluru. In 2014 Kelly won an award that brought students to Uluru and became determined to help local artists realise their vision of harmony through a painting that depicts both the ANU students Mutitjulu culture.
Maruku Arts exhibition, foyer space, School of Art & Design Gallery, corner Liversidge Street and Ellery Crescent, Acton, until Friday, May 4, 10.30am–5pm. Artists demonstrations will be held on Thursday, May 3, during gallery hours. 25 of the works are for sale.