National Gallery of Australia | Audio Tour | National Indigenous Art Triennial 07


Audio guide to thirty works from the National Indigenous Art Triennial 07: culture warriors shown at the National Gallery of Australia, Canberra 14 July – 16 October 2006


  • Anniebell MARRNGAMARRNGA, Yawkyawk 2007

    Anniebell MARRNGAMARRNGA, Yawkyawk 2007

    20/11/2007 Duración: 01min

    Yawkyawk is a word in the Kunwinjku/kunwok language of Western Arnhem Land meaning ‘young woman’ and ‘young woman spirit being’. The different groups of Kunwinjku people (one of the Eastern dialect groups call themselves Kuninjku) each have Yawkyawk mythologies, which relate to specific locations in clan estates. These mythologies are represented in bark paintings and sculptures of Yawkyawk beings. There are also a few examples of rock art images of these beings. The female water spirits Yawkyawk or Ngalkunburriyaymi are perhaps the most enigmatic of mythological themes. Sometimes compared to the European notion of mermaids, they exist as spiritual beings living in freshwater streams and rock pools, particularly those in the stone country. The spirit Yawkyawk is usually described and depicted with the tail of a fish. This the Kuninjku people sometimes call the ngalberddjenj which literally means ‘the young woman who has a tail like a fish’. They have long hair, which is associated with trailing blooms of green

  • Treahna HAMM, Yabby 2006

    Treahna HAMM, Yabby 2006

    20/11/2007 Duración: 01min

    The weaving technique used in Yabby is shared by Indigenous nations of the southern and south-eastern regions, particularly along the river systems that meander across state borders and clan lines. The technique was transposed to Arnhem Land in the early 20th century by missionaries, who encouraged Aboriginal women to practice craft and create objects for sale through the tourist market of the time, in spite of the ancient weaving traditions of communities in the Top End. Treahna Hamm is one of a number of artists who over the past decade or so have researched customary techniques and been responsible for cultural revival and regeneration. This work was the result of a dream. In Indigenous culture, teachings are very different from the concept of mainstream teachings. Many aspects of life are interpreted with listening to the land and to elders through stories that are then reinterpreted into our own lives. The work gives substance to my identity and that of my cultural teachings. Treahna Hamm, 2007

  • Destiny DEACON, Good golly miss dolly, Colour Blinded 2005

    Destiny DEACON, Good golly miss dolly, Colour Blinded 2005

    20/11/2007 Duración: 01min

    Colour blinded exemplifies the way we work together, when we work together. Destiny thinks her thoughts and Virginia thinks hers. Neither of us recalls a time we’ve talked much about making work together, or discussed ideas or methods except while doing it and even then only briefly. In this case Destiny proposed doing something with sodium lights that Virginia had used before, though not in joint works. Destiny wanted to take black-and-white photos and Virginia suggested using orthochromatic film because of the way it reads and reduces colour. Destiny dreamt up and took the photos and proposed and directed most of the scenarios for the video, which Virginia shot and edited. Destiny had the idea for the snow dome and Virginia made it work. That’s the mechanics of it. But the other things that go into it result from what we’ve each been separately thinking, doing and reading; our awareness of current events and our personal histories in contact with each other and anyone else we’re working with; materials, medi

  • Christine CHRISTOPHERSEN, The past, the present, the future 2006

    Christine CHRISTOPHERSEN, The past, the present, the future 2006

    20/11/2007 Duración: 01min

    Christine CHRISTOPHERSEN, The past, the present, the future 2006, painting, synthetic polymer paint on canvas, 200.0 (h) x 248.0 (w) cm, Collection of the National Gallery of Australia, purchased 2007

  • Trevor Turbo BROWN, Koala and babies 2005

    Trevor 'Turbo' BROWN, Koala and babies 2005

    20/11/2007 Duración: 01min

    Brown, from rural Victoria, began painting native animals when he was a teenager living rough and homeless. He depicts his beloved animals in idyllic bush settings, in an idiosyncratic style, having been encouraged to develop his art through adult art classes at the Royal Melbourne Institute of Technology. His paintings of native fauna can be considered as metaphors for his people, as in Dreamtime kangaroo and bird 2006.

  • Jean Baptiste APUATIMI, Yirrikapayi 2007

    Jean Baptiste APUATIMI, Yirrikapayi 2007

    20/11/2007 Duración: 01min

    Yirrikapayi (male crocodile) was once a man who lived around [Cape] Fourcroy [Bathurst Island]. They been spear him. He crawled into the water and turned into a crocodile. Jean Baptiste Apuatimi, 2007

  • Maringka BAKER, Kuru Ala 2007Maringka BAKERMaringka BAKER

    Maringka BAKER, Kuru Ala 2007Maringka BAKERMaringka BAKER

    20/11/2007 Duración: 01min

    This is Kuru Ala. These are creeks and rock holes everywhere, and many trees. There is puli (rocks) and apu (rocky hills). This is Minyma Tjuta Tjukurrpa (Seven Sisters Creation Story). This area is close to Tjuntjuntjarra [in Western Australia, near the South Australian border]. Maringka Baker, 2007

  • Jimmy BAKER, Katatjita 2006

    Jimmy BAKER, Katatjita 2006

    20/11/2007 Duración: 01min

    Kanpi Tjukurpa (Dreaming story from Kanpi). This place is called Katatjita. It’s a rock hole underground. It’s like a big underground cave inside. There is one woman sitting inside, she’s from the Tjukurpa (Creation Time). Her name is Malilu. She’s frightened and hiding in the cave. The man was trying to sleep with her but she said wanti (no). The man speared her many times and she fled to the safety of the cave. Jimmy Baker, 2007

  • Vernon AH KEE, mythread 2007

    Vernon AH KEE, mythread 2007

    20/11/2007 Duración: 01min

    I started this series of drawings with my ‘heroes’. A portrait of my grandfather, Mick Miller. He was larger than life and held a special role in society. Grandfathers are already fully evolved when you meet them. Their personality is not evolving or growing, it’s set in stone…Different to the father–son relationship. Grandfathers have an immediate fondness toward their grandchildren. They are also very much heroes to everyone in the family. I thought it was natural to want to portray them on a large scale, to make them large drawings. If I made a video of my grandfather I would want it to be projected really big… I’ve done a few self-portraits in pastels to try it in the past, but other than that. not many. It’s really just like any self-portrait – I just do whatever strikes me at the time. I have license to make any comment that strikes me. They also say more about me than any other work because they are unavoidably me. When I am making them I don’t have to worry about making the subject look good, or port

  • Richard BELL, Psalm singing 2007

    Richard BELL, Psalm singing 2007

    20/11/2007 Duración: 01min


  • John MAWURNDJUL, Mardayin design at Dilebang 2006

    John MAWURNDJUL, Mardayin design at Dilebang 2006

    20/11/2007 Duración: 01min

    John MAWURNDJUL, Mardayin design at Dilebang 2006, painting, bark painting, natural earth pigments on stringybark, 200.0 (h) x 47.0 (w) cm, Collection of the National Gallery of Australia, © John Mawurndjul, courtesy Maningrida Arts & Culture

  • Jan (Djan NANUNDIE) BILLYCAN, All the Jila 2006

    Jan (Djan NANUNDIE) BILLYCAN, All the Jila 2006

    20/11/2007 Duración: 01min

    The eight panels depict the Great Sandy Desert near Well 33 in Western Australia. Jan Billycan is a maparn (medicine woman) from this country. She can see ‘inside’ the human body, and is a renowned traditional healer. This is evident in her landscapes, as the visceral nature of her work is reminiscent of the internal organs of the human body. A living waterhole becomes a liver or kidney, while the tali (sand dunes) are stretched across the canvas like the human ribcage. The body is just an extension of the land. Billycan knows these things on a deep metaphysical level and does not like to discuss her talents. However, it is important for kardiya (whitefellas) to be aware of this in order to understand the significance of Billycan’s work. Jan Billycan, 2006

  • Judy WATSON, palm cluster 2007

    Judy WATSON, palm cluster 2007

    20/11/2007 Duración: 01min

    The title of a solo exhibition held in Brisbane in early 2007, ‘a complicated fall’, refers to the comment by the state coroner, who referred to Mulrundji Doomagee’s death on Palm Island as being caused by ‘a complicated fall’. This was a surprising finding considering the physical damage [‘four broken ribs, a ruptured spleen and a liver almost split in half’] that the man had suffered during his ordeal in the Palm Island jail. ‘A complicated fall’ could also refer to a fall from grace, a fall of government, etc. Other works in the exhibition referred more specifically to recent events on Palm Island and or used familiar motifs within my body of work (e.g. shells, ribs, plants and maps). While I was making many of the works in this exhibition I was listening to ABC Radio National. At this time there were many news updates about events on Palm Island. Part of my response to this was an internal grieving that I was aware of when I was pushing and scrubbing the raw pigments into the canvas. Blue is the colour of

  • Christopher PEASE, New Water Dreaming 2005

    Christopher PEASE, New Water Dreaming 2005

    20/11/2007 Duración: 02min

    This painting is drawing direct reference from the hand-coloured lithograph produced by Louis Auguste de Sainson...De Sainson was the appointed draughtsman on the Astrolabe commanded by Dumont d’Urville. The lithograph itself was printed in 1833. The image depicts the area within King George Sound, south-west Western Australia, probably Middleton Beach. In the foreground, members from d’Urville’s expedition load water onto one of the ship’s longboats via a long flexible hose. Interaction between the crew and the Minang people is obvious and positive with several individuals helping to load water.1 This historical image is a rare snapshot of some of the first interactions between Europeans and the Minang people. It shows the exchange of ideas however different they are. It is the point where new ways of thinking are discovered. Physics provides a detailed equation using pressure, depth, atmospheric pressure, density of water and acceleration of gravity to explain how a siphon works. Hydrology (the science of

  • Julie DOWLING, Walyer 2006

    Julie DOWLING, Walyer 2006

    20/11/2007 Duración: 01min

    Dowling’s portrayal of Walyer, a Tasmanian Aboriginal woman resistance fighter, is a rallying cry of opposition. Dowling’s protagonist, standing like an antipodean Bodicea, is a culture warrior, overturning the myth of passive submission. George Augustus Robinson, a former missionary, and Chief Protector of the Aborigines in the Port Phillip District (Victoria) from 1839 to 1849, referred to Walyer as ‘an Amazon’. Shortly after her capture in 1830, she died on 5 June 1831 from another insidious gift from the colonists: influenza. She had fought on behalf of her people with bravery and tenacity in a war for which no memorials exist. Walyer (aka Te Nor and Tarenorerer), a Plair-Leke-Liller-Plue woman from Tasmania, was abducted in her teens by men from another tribe and traded to sealers for flour and dogs. Such transactions occurred as Tasmanian Aboriginal people’s lives were disrupted by encroaching European settlement. Sealers took Aboriginal women for labour and as sexual commodities. During her time with th

  • Elaine RUSSELL, Inspecting our houses 2004

    Elaine RUSSELL, Inspecting our houses 2004

    20/11/2007 Duración: 01min

    The manager’s wife was a nursing sister and once a week she would inspect the houses on the mission to make sure that our homes were clean and tidy, which they were. She wanted to know how mum’s floors were so white seeing that we had no electricity to use an electric floor scrubber. That’s when mum showed her a piece of sandstone, by which she was very surprised! Elaine Russell, 2004

  • Shane PICKETT, On the Horizon of the Dreaming Boodja 2005

    Shane PICKETT, On the Horizon of the Dreaming Boodja 2005

    20/11/2007 Duración: 02min

    This painting depicts the birth of life, breaking throughout the warmth of eternity, bringing the beginning of the Dreaming Boodja, a place mankind calls earth. It is placed among the galaxy to guide the Nyoongar people through their journey of life and dreaming. Shane Pickett, 2007

  • Daniel BOYD, King No Beard 2007

    Daniel BOYD, King No Beard 2007

    20/11/2007 Duración: 01min

    King No Beard 2007 is a direct appropriation of the portrait of King George III painted in London in 1773 by Nathaniel Dance, which is now held in the Hermitage collection in St Petersburg. Boyd’s regal portrait of King George III in all his frills and finery is brought undone by closer observation of the stately necklace: the expected gold orbs having been replaced by skulls. The portrait also contains a self-portrait, mockingly included as a decapitated specimen in a jar, gazing mournfully heavenward like a latter-day Saint Sebastian, martyred like so many of the first Indigenous resistance fighters of Australia. Boyd’s portraits directly reference 18th-century portraits of figures associated with the earliest days of Australia’s colonisation. Within these portraits are other references, as is the case with the macabre self-portrait in which Boyd shares the fate of 18th-century Dharug/Dharuk resistance leader Pemulwuy (c. 1750–1802). Pemulwuy led uprisings against the colonisers for 12 years before finally bein

  • Gulumbu YUNUPINGU, Garak the Universe 2007

    Gulumbu YUNUPINGU, Garak the Universe 2007

    20/11/2007 Duración: 01min

    Yunupingu’s source of inspiration is Garak the Universe, an important ancestral story – particularly for the Yolgnu of north-east Arnhem Land. Although Garak appears to be a literal representation of the Milky Way, Yunupingu has stated herself that her art is about the entire universe, all the stars that can be seen by the naked eye, and also everything that exists far beyond any scientific expedition or estimation – everything that can be imagined and all that cannot.

  • Christian Bumbarra THOMPSON, The Sixth Mile 2006

    Christian Bumbarra THOMPSON, The Sixth Mile 2006

    20/11/2007 Duración: 01min

    The customary greeting between male relations and family members in Thompson’s The Sixth Mile and Desert Slippers both created 2006 are profoundly moving in the intensely personal rituals revealed to an unaware public audience. Thompson inhabits many bodies – young, male, urban, Blak, androgynous, playful, mimic, and performative – always Bidjara.1 [The video work] presents the viewer with a very intimate, family ritual. We see the artist and his father involved in what could be interpreted as a greeting ceremony. Speaking in Bidjara, their bodies turned towards each other, the men are engrossed in acting out the same gestures repetitively. The non-Bidjara viewer, who can’t understand what is being said, is nonetheless invited into this private space of communication and learning between father and son. The artist explains that this work follows on from earlier videos that similarly focused on Bidjara rituals, made visible by means of a Western visual language. It forms a response to the increasingly conser

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