Salt Water to Salt Contemporary

An exciting exhibition exploring the theme of water in indigenous art is soon to open at Salt Contemporary Art. Mark it in your calendar as this is shaping up to be a great exhibition. More than 40 quality works of paintings, sculptures and weavings by indigenous artists have been chosen by curators Emily McCulloch Childs and Susan McCulloch to demonstrate the significance of water to indigenous people and how this is represented in art.

“As is very evident currently, water – from floods to droughts – is one of the key environmental issues in Australia today and ‘water dreaming’ paintings have been some of the most significant indigenous art ever made,” says co-curator Susan McCulloch. “Water is represented throughout Aboriginal art in major creation stories such as the Rainbow Serpent, the Wanampi (Water Men) of the western and central deserts; the Yawkyawk (mermaid/water sprites) and Baru (crocodile) of Arnhem Land, the rain/fertility Wandjina figures of the Kimberley and many others.”

Swimming Hole … were Congo
, Rosella Namok. (Image courtesy Salt Contemporary Art.)

Works in the exhibition include those by the well established artists such as Western Desert’s Lorna Brown Napangangka, Yalti Napangati, and the NATSIAA winner Ngoia Pollard; striking ‘rock hole’ paintings from some of the newest stars of desert art of the Pitjantjatjara lands; brilliantly-hued paintings by young Lockhart Rivers artists Rosella Namok and Samantha Hobson; powerful monochrome prints by Torres Strait Islander artists; subtle, finely cross-hatched works from the classic Arnhem Land schools such as the delicate waterlily bark by award-winning painter Djirrirra Wunumurra; and large ochre on canvas works by the artists of Bula’bula whose lives featured in the film Ten Canoes.

, Adam Gibbs. (Image courtesy Salt Contemporary Art.)

There is also a great range of works by rising art stars such as Papunya’s Candy Nakamarra (daughter of master water dreaming painter Johnny Warangkula Tjupurrula) and Kukula McDonald; Yuendumu’s Ormay Nangala Gallagher and Joy Nangala Brown; and the Kimberley’s Claude Carter whose strong ochres sold out in a joint exhibition in Darwin last year.

Claude Carter. (Image courtesy Salt Contemporary Art.)

Large ceremonial poles from Yirrkala in East Arnhem Land, palm frond weavings by award-winning Western Australian weaver Janine McAullay Bott and Tiwi carvings extend the range into the three-dimensional.

Curator’s Talks
If you are interested to learn more about Australian indigenous art, the curators will be giving two talks over the weekend of 22-23 January.

  • Saturday 22 January at 5 pm – an introduction to the exhibition and the works individually.
  • Sunday 23 January at 2:30 pm – an illustrated talk on ‘Mythology, Mark Making and Colour in Indigenous art’ exploring the theme of the exhibition in depth.

The McCullochs publish the highly regarded McCulloch’s Encyclopedia of Australian Art and McCulloch’s Contemporary Aboriginal Art: the complete guide, as well as other art books.

Salt Water to Salt Contemporary runs from 16 January to 8 February at Salt Contemporary Art. Don’t miss it! Opening drinks Saturday 22 January at 6pm. For more information go to Salt’s website

One thought on “Salt Water to Salt Contemporary

  1. Congratulations to Susan McCulloch! As part of the Australia Day 2011 celebrations, Susan McCulloch was awarded a Medal of the Order of Australia (OAM) for services to the arts as a writer and publisher.

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