ReDot Fine Art Gallery is honoured to host the first ever group show of works from Ernabella Arts, titled ‘Tjukurpa Mulapa’ (True Stories). Senior artists from this renowned community will showcase their talents in a spectacular show of colour and detail, bold dotting and subtle textures.
The oldest permanent settlement in the Anangu Pitjantjtjara Yankunytjatjara (APY) region of north-western South Australia, Ernabella, or Pukatja (440 kilometres south-west of Alice Springs), was established as a Presbyterian mission in 1933 and likewise in 1948, Ernabella Arts was founded laying claim to being the oldest indigenous art centre in Australia, now run by an executive committee consisting of six senior Anangu artists.
Ernabella Arts is the work place for some 70 artists of all ages, making strong, culturally important work for national and international exhibitions. With a history spanning the production of wool and ‘knick-knacks’ Ernabella became famous for the pioneering success of Ernabella batiks, which have been celebrated through the National Gallery of Victoria’s nationally touring exhibition ‘Raiki wara: long cloth from Aboriginal Australia and the Torres Strait’ (1998), and it’s more recent ‘Across the Desert: Aboriginal Batik from Central Australia’ in 2008/2009.
For all its aesthetic and critical high-points, the hot and labour-intensive production of batik, however, never captured the market in the same way as the phenomena of acrylic painting on canvas. Though Ernabella artists dabbled in painting since the 1980s, spurred in part by its prevalence in other Central and Western desert communities, it’s only in the last five years that they have really taken to the medium in earnest, with the most incredible national acclaim and success. With its embrace has come a newfound emphasis on artworks which do relate to Jukurrpa (Dreaming) and which do tell significant stories.
It’s a really exciting time’, enthuses Ruth McMillan, coordinator at Ernabella Arts Inc., along with her partner Julian Green, since September 2009. Their involvement at the centre parallels a seminal shift in art production at Ernabella.
This explosion culminated in Dickie Minyintiri, one of the most senior men painting on the APY Lands, winning the coveted General Painting Award and Overall Prize Winner of the 28th Telstra National Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Art Awards (NATSIAA), the highest accolade for an Aboriginal painter. The move was a long overdue recognition of his work, and the endorsement of the continued strength of art making in APY Art Centres.
‘Dickie works by building layers’, says Julian Green of his ‘charge’, Dickie Minyintiri. ‘Each layer, sometimes each colour is a different memory’, reveals Green: ‘the tracks of different animals, waterholes, a fragment of song, the steps in a dance, the many paths that he has walked across his country.’
Ernabella art is in all major Australian state and national collections and overseas including the British Museum, the National Ethnographic Museum Osaka Japan, Edinburgh City Gallery etc. and artists have been winners and exhibitors in the annual NATSIAA, the Whyalla Santos Art Awards, Fremantle Print Awards.
Even though it has always as primarily been a women’s space, nowadays several senior male artists also paint regularly and the current show is a beautiful blend of senior and emerging male and females, including current Chair of Ernabella Arts Pepai Jangala Carroll, ranked among the centre’s ‘most exciting artists’ for his optically charged, monochromatic fields on black, Langaliki Langaliki, Yurpiya Lionel, Ungakini Tjangala, Tjariya (Nungalka) Stanley, Renita Stanley, Pepai Jangala Carroll and Tjunkaya Tapaya to name a few.
The exhibition opens on Wednesday 25th July and runs till Saturday 1st September 2012. ReDot Fine Art Gallery invites anyone fascinated by indigenous art and captivated by the raw, tjukurpa-rich paintings of the senior men and women to join us for this amazing show.