“SPIRIT in the Land” is an exhibition which has just opened at the ANU’s Drill Hall Gallery exploring the connection between Australian artists, historical known for their special appreciation of the spiritual ethos and power of the land in this country.
The landscape has been an ongoing subject in the history of Australia art, one of the few areas where popular and elite art coincide and, as the gallery says, “Vital to the ongoing formation of images of a national identity”.
The exhibition brings together paintings and sculptures by Lorraine Connelly-Northey, John Davis, Russell Drysdale, Rosalie Gascoigne, Emily Kame Kngwarreye, Dorothy Napangardi, Sidney Nolan, John Olsen, Lin Onus, Rover Thomas and Fred Williams.
Aerial landscapes take shape in the elevated perspectives of Nolan’s eroded landforms of central Australia can be viewed alongside Napangardi’s patterning of shifting sands and Rover Thomas’ desert paintings.
Water and its erosive power are focal points in Williams’ paintings and the patterns of Emily’s yam dreaming images relate to water too.
The works of Onus and Davis look at the interchange between indigenous and non-indigenous traditions and images.
The red desert images of Drysdale reflect the harshness of the Australian climate, while Connelly-Northey’s capture the sheer beauty of the landscape and Gascoigne’s weathered and rusted works utilise pastoral detritus.
The exhibition has been curated by McClelland Gallery + Sculpture Park’s director, Robert Lindsay and senior curator, Penny Teale and is toured by NETS Victoria.
“Spirit in the Land,” at the Drill Hall, Kingsley St Acton, until April 1.
Photo: Russell Drysdale, The crow trap, 1941, oil on fibro cement panel, 40.7 x 60.8 cm. Courtesy Newcastle Region Gallery Art Gallery, New South Wales. Gift of Dr Roland Pope,1945. © Estate of Russell Drysdale