Monday, April 12, 2010

Ochre, bark, fibre, wood

Above: Guests at the opening; Below (l to r) Elizabeth Crauford, Ian Mitchell and Ted Lovett at the opening.

Last Thursday we were was pleased to open our latest exhibition, 'Ochre, bark, fibre, wood: The art of Arnhem Land from the collection of the Art Gallery of Ballarat'. The opening was well attended and guests had the opportunity preview the exhibition as well as hear opening remarks from indigenous Elder, Mr Ted Lovett, and Director of the Art Gallery of Ballarat, Mr Gordon Morrison.

The exhibition is curated by Mr Morrison and is the first travelling survey of Ballarat's Arnhem Land collection since it was established in 2004. Mr Morrison gained a deeper appreciation of the art of Arnhem Land through a research trip funded by the Gordon Darling Foundation in May 2005, which enabled him to spend five days at Yirrkala and five days at Maningrida. Meeting artists and learning about the cultural context in which they created their work profoundly informed Mr Morrison's approach to establishing this new area of collection at Ballarat. Mr Morrison commented that, "although Arnhem Land is an integral part of Australia, travelling to this part of the Northern Territory can seem like travelling to another country. It is not just a matter of the physical remoteness of the region; this is a place where indigenous languages - and there are many of them - are still spoken and where age old customs, tribal law, ceremonies and art are still part of everyday life".

Bark paintings and fibre works rarely tour due to their fragility, so we are indeed fortunate that the Art Gallery of Ballarat has so generously shared its collection with us. The exhibition brings together exquisite bark paintings and majestic wood and fibre sculptures from 'the Top End'. It provides a rare opportunity for people to learn about the rich indigenous culture from this beautiful and remote part of Australia. The exhibition continues until Sunday 16 May.