Right here right now
recent Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander art acquisitions
13 May – 13 August 2006

introduction | artists' statements | selected works

Artist Unknown, Jawun [bicornual basket] c.early 20th century, lawyer cane , Collection of the National Gallery of Australia Unknown maker  Jawun [bicornual basket]  c.early 20th century, lawyer cane   Collection of the National Gallery of Australia     more detail

Right here right now: Recent Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander acquisitions presents a selection of works from across the breadth and depth of Indigenous visual art and culture in Australia over the past two centuries, acquired during the last two years, which have not yet been on public display. Media include bark painting, fibre-work and textiles, print-making, drawing, painting and sculpture, with themes ranging from the ancestral and ancient in Indigenous and European time, to the cutting edge of political society in Australia today.

Works are by leading contemporary artists such as bark painter and lorrkon (hollow log) maker, Kuninjku artist John Mawurndjul, whose work has been selected for the prestigious Australian Indigenous Art Commission (AIAC) at the new Musée du quai Branly in Paris; a series of oils on canvas with a specifically Indigenous perspective on Christianity by Julie Dowling (Yamatji/Badimaya people), the edgy satire of Waanyi/Waanjiminjin artist Gordon Hookey; to memento mori in the work of Kuku/Erub artist Clinton Nain, in a stunning series of panels by Ungkum artist Rosella Namok and a recent canvas by renowned Waanyi artist Judy Watson, whose work is also represented in the AIAC.

A group of paintings by emerging Kudjla/Gangalu artist Daniel Boyd, visually pun on the concepts of terra nullius, buccaneering and stolen wealth, drawing inspiration from 18th-century portraiture filtered through the artist’s 21st-century perspective. These works are shown alongside a stunning body of canvases by established and emerging Papunya Tula artists; paintings by emerging artist Ngoia Pollard Napaltjarri from Utopia in central Australia; Bidyadanga and Parnggurr communities in north-east Western Australia, and Peppimenarti in the Northern Territory; and superb lorrkon and larrikitj [hollow logs] by rising artists from Maningrida and Yirrkala, Timothy Wulanjbirr and Naminapu Maymuru-White, respectively, whose work has gained increasing notice in the past year. Tiwi artists Jean Baptist Apuatimi and Timothy Cook present their distinctive vision rendered in ochre.

Daniel Boyd 'Captain no beard' 2005/2006 oil on canvas, Collection of the National Gallery of Australia Daniel Boyd   Captain no beard  2005/2006   oil on canvas  Collection of the National Gallery of Australia   more detail

Works on paper by foremost Torres Strait Islander print-maker, Dennis Nona (Kala Lagaw Ya people), are highlighted by the innovative approach to working with a diversity of media on paper by senior Arnhem Land artist Paddy Fordham Wainburranga (Rembarrnga people).

A whimsical approach is evident in the objects of south-eastern artist Lola Ryan, and Blackstone, Western Australian artist Kantjupayi Benson (Ngaanyatjarra people), whose individual approaches to their work encompass intimate and recent history. Other objects and textile works include two rare late 19th-century bicornual baskets from Far North Queensland, a magnificent burial basket by renowned Ngarrindjeri weaver, Yvonne Koolmatrie, textiles by local and regional artists, and a series of vibrant weavings by Maningrida artists.

Such contemporary works complement recent acquisitions of historical works, which include a stunning 19th-century Torres Strait Islander mask by an unknown maker; a wonderful carving of the wife of Gurrmirringu, the ancestral hunter by David Malangi Daymirringu; a series of spectacular painted boards created in the early 1970s by Wadeye (Port Keats) artists; and paintings by renowned Warmun artists, the late George Mung Mung and his contemporary, Hector Jandany, elder statesman in the community today.

Brenda L Croft
Senior Curator, Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Art