BASIL Hall is a master printmaker who trained at the Canberra School of Art under the late Jörg Schmeisser. He travels regularly to remote indigenous communities and works with eminent indigenous artists to create works on paper.
This exhibition presents work completed during recent years. Sadly, several of the artists whose works are featured have passed recently and these are amongst their last works.
Others are of an advanced age, such as 88-year-old Harry Tjutjuna from Pipalyatrjara in the north-east corner of SA and 83-year-old Philip (Pussycat) Gudthaygudthay from Arnhem Land, whose works employ traditional designs and show a high level of technical ability. Another highly skilled artist from Arnhem Land with work in the exhibition is Dorothy Djukulul.
There are many highly original works from Melville Island artists, such as Kaye Brown who was until recently teaching at the local primary school, working in the school library and caring for her grandchildren. Her etching “Winga” has a mesmeric presence.
Other strong work from Tiwi women includes that of Barbara Puruntatatemeri, whose etching “Parlini Jilamara 2017” is based on traditional Tiwi designs of her ancestors she discovered on a trip to Darwin’s museum, and Raelene Kerinaua whose beautiful abstract grid “Kayimwagakimi Jilamara 2017” shimmers with life.
There are also impressive works from male Tiwi artists, including Conrad Tipungwuti, and Pedro Wonaeamirri whose etching/silkscreen “Jilamara 2017” radiates with warmth and energy. The works by Timothy Cook, including the etching/silkscreen “Japarra 2017”, open up to the world and are highlights of the exhibition.
Notable works from artists in other communities include the highly accomplished work of Rusty Peters from the East Kimberley, and Whiskey Tjunkungku (sadly recently passed) from the Anangu Pitjantjatjara Yankunytjatjara Lands in SA, whose distinctive wood-cuts, such as “Arrernte Country 2013”, employ strong designs portraying his homelands.
A poignant note to the exhibition is the final etching “Djupi is so sweet 2017” made by the recently deceased performer and artist Balang (Tom E.) Lewis. Djupi (native blackberries) are the fruit of the trees portrayed, behind whose branches the moon appears to be rising.
This exhibition provides a broad survey of works on paper by many of Australia’s finest Indigenous artists. My only criticism is of the accompanying brochure, which fails to mention any of the women artists whose work features so strongly in the exhibition.