The ReDot gallery is proud to welcome the 1st Singaporean show for the powerful and colourful works of the Bentinck Island Art Gang.
â€œNgalla marraaju wuuju dulka kilwanmaruthu / weâ€™ll show you our countryâ€ will showcase the very best from this group of the Kaiadilt women painting on Mornington Island.
Mornington and Bentinck are part of the Wellesley Islands, a group of twenty three islands off the cost of north Queensland, Australia, in the Gulf of Carpentaria. The combined population was estimated to be 1007 as of 2001 and the majority of the citizens live in the township of Gununa.
Bentinck, in the Southern part of the group, has an extremely flat landscape, very vulnerable to inundation caused by the large volume of water getting into the Gulf during the monsoon season and by tides up to 4 metres high.
The Kaiadilt group lived a very traditional and isolated life until 1947 when a cyclone forced the evacuation of Bentinck Island when the water was contaminated. They were moved to nearby Mornington Island and settled in a religious mission where they kept their traditional practices of fishing and gathering bush foods.
However the stress of leaving their country was so extreme that for many years no Kaiadilt babies were born and their language started to die. These days fewer than 10 people can speak their original language.
The art movement that brought life back to these people started in 2005 when Sally Gabori, then 80 years old, wandered into the Mornington Island Arts and Craft centre and picked up a brush. The Kaiadilt had no tradition of painting but what came from her hands was an overflow of talent in blocks of bright colour, bold combination of pinks and oranges, blues and reds, white and black.
Sally was shortly followed by May Moodoonuthi, Dawn Naranatjil, Paula Paul, Netta Loogatha, Ethel Thomas and Amy Loogatha. All somehow related by blood, language and by the experience of the life in the low lands of the nearby island. They all have distinctive styles but the themes are common: the salt pans, mangroves, mussels, oysters, fish traps, shells and sand from the casuarinas lined beaches and the ceremonial scars made when someone related dies.
The Kaiadilt ladies of the Bentinck Island seized the art worldâ€™s attention and have found a new way to reconnect to their long left country.
The powerful works of these wonderful ladies has now been exhibited regularly around Australia since 2005 and are collected by important institutions and collection including The National Gallery of Victoria, Edith Cowan University, Chartwell Collection, The Merenda Collection, The Lagerberg-Swift Collection, The Marshall Collection, Leeuwin Estate, Harding Family and Musee du Quai Branly to name but a few.
Today most of them return to Bentinck during the dry season and about 15 people live permanently on the island. These ladies are respected by the rest of their Kaiadilt people as they hold most of the knowledge of their people and their arts is a vital instrument to spreading this knowledge.
ReDot is very proud to be the 1st gallery in Asia to exhibit these beautiful works and continue to mission of bringing the newest, most innovative, colourful new Aboriginal art works from the Australian outback.
The works will be on show from the 8th of July until the 22nd of August.