The National Gallery of Australia (NGA) is shining the spotlight on Indigenous artists from every State and Territory of Australia in its latest travelling exhibition, officially opening at Perc Tucker Regional Gallery this Friday night (24 March).
Resolution: New Indigenous Photomedia explores Aboriginal identity and history through the eyes of Indigenous artists of all ages and backgrounds.
Exhibition Curator, Kelli Cole, said the works each spoke for themselves, but together are a strong statement that it is important for Aboriginal people to have a platform to tell their own story.
“Resolution is important in telling the stories of the Indigenous in two ways: historical and contemporary. Aboriginal people are living here and now with what society is, and the story has to be told from our point of view as well,” said Kelli.
“I think that’s what art does so well; you’re not getting hit over the head with a lot of information, you choose to read the labels and the text and choose to read more into the story behind the artwork.
“The exhibition features 19 indigenous artists, both emerging and internationally known. The works cover historical processes and all mediums from daguerreotype glass photographs through to multimedia. Both male and female artists are represented as well as all states and territories.”
Townsville-born artist Tony Albert has two pieces featured, highlighting the pop culture he grew up with alongside politics.
“The idea for Tony Albert’s work sparked from the young Indigenous man who was killed in Redfern – since then, Aboriginal men have felt like they have a target on them constantly with the police. So even though the man in the image is surrounded by pop culture images, underpinning this work is racial vilification and young men feeling like people always have something against them. It’s a strong, powerful work.
“Beside Albert’s work are images by Damien Shen – they’re two young Indigenous men who are strong and believe in themselves.
“Damien is of Aboriginal-Chinese heritage, and grew up with his Chinese Grandfather. But in these images, he wanted to go back and learn about his Aboriginal culture. He got his Uncle Moogy to paint him up in the style of the Ngarrindjeri people. Then over here you have Uncle Moogy painting himself up. So again it’s the old traditional way of painting being passed down a generation. You’ve got this young man wanting to learn his culture and getting someone older to go through the process with him.
“The two pieces by Darren Siwes are ones people often find intimidating, without knowing the story. In the images, you have two odd-looking Indigenous people: the man in a military outfit and the woman in a royal ballgown, both looking very forlorn.
“When Prince Edward VIII visited Australia, it’s said that he had a dalliance with an Aboriginal woman and she then had children as a result. These children have then grown up in Aboriginal society knowing they are royalty, which has always been denied. It’s about being uncomfortable in your own skin as a black person or as a royal – they feel out of place wherever they are.”
Resolution is a touring exhibition, arriving in Townsville after a stint in the Tweed. Community and Cultural Development Committee chair Cr Colleen Doyle said bringing shows such as this to Townsville is an important way to recognise history as well as inspire local talent.
“Townsville itself is a regional art gallery, so I think it’s important we get this calibre of art brought to our city. We have this amazing array of talent within our city, but it’s important to have this infusion from outside the city as well, and celebrate art of this high standard,” Cr Doyle said.
“Particularly with us having a high Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander population and connectivity, it’s really important to marry those two together. Especially now with it being 25 years since the Mabo decision.”
Catch the opening of Resolution: New Indigenous Photomedia at Perc Tucker Regional Gallery this Friday night, March 24 at 6:30pm. Resolution will be on display at Perc Tucker until May 28.