A group exhibition of Aboriginal painting on canvas, paper and bark from four Aboriginal Art Centres. Buku-Larrngay Mulka Centre (Arnhem Land, NT), Warmun Art (East Kimberley, WA), Warakurna Artists (Gibson Desert, WA, over the border from Uluru Alice Springs) and Jilamara Arts (Tiwi Islands, north of Darwin).


15 September – 3 October 2020


Tim Melville Gallery, 4 Winchester St, Grey Lynn, Auckland


Tim Melville is proud to present Ngā Iwi Moemoeā: The Dreaming People. At the centre of the show, is a suite of three extraordinary Larrakitj — memorial poles — made from hollow, stringybark logs. The artist, Manini Gumana, works at Buku-Larrngay Mulka and has painted the Larrkitj with Earth pigments and ochres.

Their wave-like patterning refers to the saltwater currents surrounding the Djalma Bay peninsula of the artist’s country. Hollow logs like these were traditionally used as burial poles. They would be painted with designs belonging to the deceased — whose bones were placed inside — before being installed in the landscape to be worn away by sun, wind, rain and fire. 

In 1988, a group of Yolngu artists made 200 Larrakitj for Australia’s bi-centenary as memorials to an Aboriginal population decimated over 200 years as well as to assert ongoing ownership and custodianship of their lands.

Larrakitj are now part of the Aboriginal artistic repertoire and we are proud to offer this rare presentation in New Zealand.

Alongside the memorial poles we are presenting a series of works on paper and canvas from Warakurna Artists, who administer a painting programme at the Wanarn Aged Care Facility. 

This programme encourages the elderly Wanarn artists, many of whom are in palliative care, to paint their country and their cosmology “from the first mornings in the time before time”.

Their loose, wobbly forms and motifs have been beautifully described by anthropologist David Brooks and art historian Darren Jorgensen as “a transect of the dot painting movement, where visual ideas are lost in a blur of paint or a fading of intention that nonetheless whisper in the language of the desert”.


Ngā Iwi Moemoeā: The Dreaming People, (installation view) September 2020.
Photographed by Kallan MacLeod.

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