In June 2014, six Sydney artists were invited to travel north to Darwin to meet with artists, curators, and arts organisations in order to share in the cultural and geographic diversity between Australia’s northern and eastern states. North is the result of this journey, an exhibition that presents six varying responses to the cultural, economic and human history of Darwin, reimagined – indeed, for some of the artists, seen for the first time – through the eyes of strangers. Though varied in their approach, the works in North ultimately consider the notion of distance; exposing a complex and often contradictory dialogue between who we are and where we live.
North is presented by the SYD/DRW Project, an ongoing venture which aims to foster creative collaboration between Sydney and Darwin-based arts organisations and artists. To be shown in Gallery 1 and featuring work in a range of mediums by ex-Darwin now Sydney-based Harriet Body along with Sydney-based Belem Lett, Stella Rosa McDonald, Siân McIntyre, Peter Nelson, and Paul Williams.
Artmart 2015 is a 3-day pop-up exhibition to bring in the early dry with one last deluge of mainly local visual arts talent. A new NCCArt initiative, Artmart serves to make contemporary art accessible and Parap’s art gallery hub better known. The event’s opening on Friday 8 May will launch the new ‘Visit Parap Galleries’ identity with Nomad Art and Outstation galleries. The exhibition features the work of 15 artists and is complemented by the launch of The Vault - pure cinema, a monthly series of arthouse & historic films curated by Koulla Roussos, and by a solo dance performance, Point of Light, choreographed by by Lizzi Webb and performed by Kelly Beneforti.
Artmart exhibiting artists: Aly de Groot, Annie Moors, Bryan Bulley, Catherine McAvoy, Darlene Devery, David Collins, Elise Derwin, Flanna Lindsay, Guykuda Munungurr, Jason Lee, Jonathon Saunders, Karen Mills, Matthew van Roden, Sonia Martignon & Victor De Sousa Pereira
Friday 8 May
5.30 - 6pm: Merran Sierakowski exhibition opening, Nomad Art
6 - 9pm: Artmart 2015 opening, NCCArt, including Launch of Visit Parap Galleries brand
7.30pm: Point of Light, NCCArt Screenroom
Outstation Gallery open till 9pm
Saturday 9 May:
9am - 3pm: Artmart 2015 open, NCCArt
2.30pm: Launch of The Vault - pure cinema: five short films
Sunday 10 May:
10am - 3pm: Artmart 2015 open, NCCArt
For larger images and image details, please see artist bios doc below
Is the structure of our DNA merely the mountain upon which our Ancestors are calling?
As I was adopted from an early age into a White/Caucasian family I am interested in exploring the Nature Vs Nurture debate, the question of whether ancestral nature (our DNA/genetic imprint) holds more sway than immediate environmental (social/cultural) factors. I wasn’t really exposed to my own Papua New Guinean culture till later in life but I have always been drawn to certain patterns and remember, during lunch breaks at primary school, even recreating traditional tapa-making methods despite never having been shown a finished work of tapa bark cloth let alone taught the traditional methods.
Through Ancestral Imprint I seek to weave a translation of generational knowledge through blood and intuition. The work incorporates my own tapa design heritage from the Oro Province, northern Papua New Guinea, where tapa cloth-making and designs are traditionally passed down from mother to daughter.
Weniki Hensch grew up in Brisbane and as a young adult headed to Currumbin, on the Gold Coast, where she learned the art of surfboard spraying before moving to Melbourne where she undertook training in traditional stained glass and restoration techniques. She exhibited her first glass piece as part of the international skateboard exhibition No Comply (2008). Since then Weniki has been exploring and strengthening her techniques in acrylic and watercolour painting through travel and work between the Warlukurlangu Artists Aboriginal Corporation in Yuendumu, Alice Springs, and Melbourne over the last six years. Her most recent work was shown as part of the 18C exhibition (2014) at Melbourne’s Blak Dot Gallery which was curated in response to the proposed removal of sections 18B-E of the Racial Discrimination Act.
After recently moving to Darwin ‘on a whim’, Weniki has felt ‘both invigorated and compelled by the all-consuming silk of sweat and monsoonal rains’. Ancestral Imprint is her first installation-based work and represents a new direction in exploring her (and her daughter’s) Papua New Guinean heritage and identity.
In the Screen Room, Tep Tok (2015) is a documentary feature film that focuses on the art and heritage of tattooing in the Central Province of Papua New Guinea. Exploring and to some degree reviving this heritage are four women of Papua New Guinean and Australian descent (Julia Mage'au Gray, Paia Ingram, Ranu James & Natalie Richards). The film follows their journey from Australia to Papua New Guinea, New Zealand, Samoa, Tahiti, the Cook Islands, and back. A particular focus of the documentary is the changes in Papua New Guinean society as reflected through the stories of the protagonists as young mixed-race women adapting and (re)creating a culture to which they belong but from which they have also been apart.
Tep Tok was made over the past 3 years as a fully self-funded project by Sunameke Productions, a dance/performance company formed in Adelaide in 1997 by Julia Gray, Yolanda Gray, Katrina Sonter and Samantha Sonter. Soon after the group relocated to Darwin, the hometown of its founders, quickly establishing itself as a ‘multicultural force’. While the group originally formed around a shared Papua New Guinean heritage, its members, influences and collaborative projects have since diversified.
Editor: Julia Mage'au Gray
Camera: Julia Mage'au Gray, Ranu James, Natalie Richards, Moale Jam, Paia Ingram, Peta Khan, Peter Sipeli, Terry Klavenes
Paia getting tattooed in Samoa by Suluape; image courtesy Sunameke Productions
In Gallery 2, the Un-resettling series (2014) explores the paradox of practising traditional Indigenous culture in National parks, conservation parks and recreational bushland. These public spaces seemingly advertise that Indigenous people still continue a traditional connection to the location, although it is illegal to remove objects or disturb the landscape. This restriction prevents Indigenous people from hunting, gathering food, or removing materials and building Indigenous architectural structures such as fishtraps and dwellings in these public reserves. Un-resettling at NCCArt draws on Tylor's Un-resettling (happenings) series (8 hand-coloured photographic prints) which is complemented by his Un-resettling (dwellings) series (but not showing at NCCArt). Both series highlight the removal of Indigenous people and their culture from these public areas where the land is only now used for public enjoyment.
James Tylor is a Masters (Visual Art) graduate from the South Australian School of Art, University of South Australia. His work explores Australia’s cultural representation through alternative photography mediums, sculpture, installation and video inspired by his multi-racial heritage involving Aboriginal, English and Maori-Australian ancestry. Tylor’s work features in Australian public and private collections; he is represented by Marshall Arts Gallery, SA; Vivien Anderson Gallery, VIC; and Paul McNamara Gallery, NZ.
James Tylor, 'Un-resettling (Hunting Kangaroo)', 2014, hand-coloured inkjet print on photorag paper, 50x 50cm; image courtesy the artist
In Gallery 1, Two Fields is a photographic journey through two of the most mythological periods of Australian history: The Gallipoli Campaign and the frontier conflicts between Indigenous Australians and white settlers. The latter, writes Darwin-based Glenn Campbell, also represents a war, ‘though undeclared in a legal sense, that defined our nation as much as the ANZAC Campaign’. Glenn Campbell is no stranger to zones of conflict through his work as a photojournalist at home and abroad and as an Australian War Memorial official photographer. For this series he has travelled across Australia and to ANZAC Cove searching for links between the nation’s pathological reverence for the myth of ANZAC and its amnesia regarding its own frontier battles.
Glenn Campbell has been producing image-driven stories from around Australia and Southeast Asia for nearly 20 years, including the past decade or so based in Darwin. In 2011, Campbell was honoured with a Walkley Award for his photo essay Stolen Spirits documenting the return of ancestral remains to tribal lands in Arnhem Land. Apart from his newspaper reportage-related work, Campbell has initiated several photographic and multimedia projects for exhibition, mostly reflecting his interest in sites of wartime and memorial interest. He was a co-curator for the inaugural edition of the NCCA exhibition PROOF: Photo Essays from the Top End (2014).
Glenn Campbell, 'Lone Pine', 2013, photographic print; image courtesy the artist
They do not go away from our reflection and memory easily. In fact, we may hang on to them intentionally and memorialise their value in our lives. (John Harvey, 2002)
'The main impact and conceptual idea of this body of work comes from loss of family and friends in 2014’, writes Larrakia artist Nadine Lee of Healing, a work which she produced as part of her visual arts studies at Charles Darwin University. ‘I wanted tactile mediums to work with’, she writes, her use of mica, muslin and driftwood allowing viewers ‘to touch, remember and reflect on the family and friends that have passed away, as if to have contact with each of them respectively for the last time.’
The mica in this work comes from Mica Beach on the Cox Peninsula in Larrakia country, where the Indigenous-owned and operated Balunu Foundation runs spiritual and cultural healing programs for Indigenous youth and families. The work’s fabric support is muslin which Lee likens to ‘skin that breaks down over time like our skin’. ‘Staining the muslin with tea’, writes Lee, ‘is a tribute to my grandfather who only drank black tea'. Lee cites two key influences in this work: the textile-based installation and oral history storytelling in the work of Murri artist Dale Harding, and the large-scale mixed-media memento mori expressions of fellow Murri artist Danie Mellor.
Lee is in the final year of a Bachelor of Creative Arts (Visual Arts) degree at Charles Darwin University, with her practice developing an interest in textiles, installation, jewellery and film.
The Screen Room shows Romaine Moreton’s Ragtag (2014) film which documents a demonstration by Moreton and fellow artists/activists at the (then) new fountain sculpture at Echo Point, Katoomba, at the ‘Three Sisters’ Blue Mountains tourist site (NSW). While the demonstration is relatively simple and clear in its intention, the resulting film, as a mediated performance, makes for a raw, compelling and somewhat less clear-cut portrayal of the collision and very performance of culture(s): Aboriginal, tourist, art-activist, national, and communal. Since the artist’s Ragtag experiment/intervention, the sculpture has been removed from public display.
Romaine Moreton is a celebrated writer, filmmaker and performance poet with a PhD in Philosophy. She hails from the Goernpil people of Stradbroke Island and the Bundjulung people of northern New South Wales. She has directed two award-winning short films (The Farm, 2011), and The Oysterman (2013), and is currently developing a new feature film. She has shown her work at the Cannes Film Festival (1999), and she was represented at the last documenta (13), Germany (2011), through the publication of her anthology Poems from a Homeland. Moreton is currently a Research Fellow/Filmmaker in Residence in the School of Media, Film, and Journalism at Monash University, Melbourne.
Romaine Moreton, 'Ragtag', 2014, still from High Definition video: 8min:14sec; image courtesy the artist; photo © Amanda James
In Gallery 2, Sometimes, Something will be a site-specific installation incorporating elements of mural painting, sculpture, and paintings in still life and portraiture. Sadat’s painting style references Indonesian traditions of decorative mural painting in which everyday subjects such as farm animals and edible plants are depicted, ‘reminding us’, states Sadat, ‘of the value of these things as giving life’. Similarly, Sadat’s work concerns itself with issues of consumption and ecological (im)balance, from the point of view of a (Jogja) city dweller and with a nod to a simple, sustainable life.
Sadat Laope is an early-career artist from Sulawesi and based in Jogyakarta, central Java, Indonesia. A graduate of the Indonesian Institute of Art (ISI, Jogjakarta, in 2007) with a major in printmaking, Sadat has held solo exhibitions at prominent Jogja art venues such as Kedai Kebun Forum, Indonesian Visual art Archive (IVAA), and the Jogja National Museum. He maintains a diverse practice through mediums including woodblock printing, drawing, painting, zine-making/artists books, and performance art. He is an active a member of the Jogja performance art group Performance Klub.
Sadat Laope, 'Sometimes, something', 2015, installation detail, NCCArt
‘The camera doesn’t do anything by itself – photographs show what people look at and reveal their inner agenda.’ (Thomas Struth, German photographer, 2011)
ACT-based photo media artist Cathy Laudenbach is no stranger to the NT having previously been a lecturer at Charles Darwin University and developed projects within the NT (including series such Alone on the Stuart Highway. Looking for Peter Falconio, and Roadhouses). Her latest exhibition, Landscapes of Desire, for NCCA's Gallery 1, takes China, Austria, and tourism as its subjects through her focus on the 5th century UNESCO World Heritage-listed town of Hallstatt, Austria, and its constructed tourist-destination copy in Louyang, Boluo County, central China. ‘The world is not the lonely planet it was’, writes Laudenbach, ‘and we don’t need a guidebook to navigate’. Through her photographs of tourists in the act of photographing, at the ‘real’ Hallstatt and its copy-town, Laudenbach examines how the tourist experience of a place is mediated and, more broadly, how we image/imagine the world today.
Cathy Laudenbach has exhibited widely in Australia including in major public photography galleries such as the Centre for Contemporary Photography, Melbourne, and the Australian Centre for Photography, Sydney. Her work has also been exhibited internationally in Japan, Germany and New Zealand. A winner of the prestigious Olive Cotton Portrait Prize in 2000, Laudenbach has a Master of Visual Arts from the ANU School of Art, Canberra, and she is a current PhD student at Charles Sturt University, Wagga Wagga. Her work is held in numerous public collections including the Australian National Library, Bathurst Regional Gallery, The Tweed River Gallery, and the Canberra Museum and Gallery.
Cathy Laudenbach, 'Untitled', Hallstatt See, China, 2014, from the 'Landscapes of Desire' series, 2014; digital print;
image courtesy the artist
image courtesy the artist