DETAIL: Mary MARABAMBA Fish trap No 27 #3017-01 2001 jungle vine, bush string Purchased 2002
 
 

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Ephemeral/transitional
The ephemeral and transitional nature of a number of the objects in Tactility, which have a paucity of attribution and origin details, is poignant. For example, while the creation date of a pair of unusual cabbage-palm cane chairs — made in 1903 at Taree on the central coast of New South Wales — is recorded, the artist’s name is not. Fashioned from Indigenous flora, were these utilitarian objects made for the creator’s use or sold to a local landowner? A carved emu egg, circa 1903, by an unknown artist from New South Wales, depicts a farmer and his two dogs in an altercation with a kangaroo, an increasingly common pastoral scene for the time — of encroachment on traditional lifestyles.

The 1980s and early 1990s saw burgeoning creativity by Indigenous women artists, particularly in weaving and textile designs incorporating traditional and introduced techniques — this work no longer relegated to the ‘inferior’ role of craft. A beautiful series of silk batik lengths from women artists from the central Australian communities of Ernabella and Utopia, South Australia and Yirrkala in north-east Arnhem Land, are seen alongside vibrant and distinctive designs by artists from Queensland, the Torres Strait Islands, northern New South Wales and the Riverland in South Australia.

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