Indigenous Australian Art in NZ

Press Release: Govett-Brewster Art Gallery

Paintings from remote communities: Indigenous Australian art from the Laverty Collection, Sydney
15 December 2007 – 24 February 2008

Patrick Tjungurrayi Untitled 2005.
Copyright the artist licensed by Aboriginal Artists Agency 2007

The most expansive exhibition of Indigenous Australian paintings ever seen in Aotearoa New Zealand opens at the Govett-Brewster Art Gallery on 15 December 2007. 

Paintings from remote communities: Indigenous Australian art from the Laverty Collection, Sydney comprises 61 recent paintings from the private collection of Dr Colin and Mrs Elizabeth Laverty.

It highlights the diversity and complexity of visual languages and in particular, the heightened colour used by contemporary Indigenous artists.

Within Aboriginal culture, art has always represented a means by which the present is connected to the past and human beings with the supernatural and spiritual world of the Dreaming. It expresses identity and the deep spiritual relationship between the people, their stories and their land.

Govett-Brewster Director Rhana Devenport says, “Paintings from remote communities offers an insight into an incredibly rich and complex cultural expression that marries contemporary perspectives with stories that stretch back as long as 60,000 years”.

The exhibition comprises paintings by 34 artists, many of whom have received significant international acclaim. Artists include Paddy Bedford, Eubena Nampitjin, Makinti Napanangka, Prince of Wales, Freddie Timms, Helicopter TjungarrayI and Regina Wilson. 

Paintings from remote communities focuses on four groupings: artists of the Central and Western Deserts through Papunya Tula Artists; the Balgo community from the Southern Kimberley; Peppimenarti, Lajamanu, Ngukurr and Darwin in the Northern Territory; and Hall’s Creek, Turkey Creek and Kununurra in the East Kimberley.

The exhibition will be accompanied by a publication featuring Will Owen’s essay Transmuted Traditions, which Devenport says captures one of the key issues in presenting such an exhibition, the innovation of forms that is constantly present in this very contemporary art.

Owen says that “contemporary painters of Indigenous Australian descent are engaged with a whole tradition, one that includes both ceremonial culture – itself never a static or monolithic enterprise – and the demands, dictates and and opportunities afforded by their interaction with other Indigenous artists as well as the hurly-burly of the western art market with its exhibition programs, art awards and very different ceremonies. At the interface of two cultures Aboriginal art today is unremittingly modern, art of its time.” This essay will also form part of a major, soon to be published book on the Laverty Collection.

This collection is today recognised as one of the most important private collections of Indigenous Australian Art. It was built over many years through the Laverty’s longstanding relationships with artists and advisers across many remote communities and through city galleries.

Paintings from remote communities will also be complemented by a comprehensive programme of public events. Included is Radiance, a film programme which profiles the work of three celebrated Indigenous Australian filmmakers, Beck Cole, Rachel Perkins and Warwick Thornton. Radiance is curated by Kathryn Weir, Head of International Art and the Australian Cinémathèque at Queensland Art Gallery / Gallery of Modern Art.

In the presentation of this exhibition the Govett-Brewster Gallery acknowledges the support of the Australian High Commission, Aalto Colour and Radio Network Taranaki.

Paintings from remote communities: Indigenous Australian art from the Laverty Collection, Sydney is presented from 15 December 2007 until 24 February 2008. 


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