The Gallery will unveil a new permanent display of Indigenous Australian art when ‘Everywhen Everywhere’ opens this Saturday at the Queensland Art Gallery (QAG).
The collection-based exhibition presents historical and contemporary works by Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander artists in a prominent and permanent location in the Gallery.
As well as representing the Gallery’s commitment to reimagining the Collection across both Gallery sites, ‘Everywhen Everywhere’ puts Australian Indigenous art at the forefront of the QAG experience.
The concept of ‘Everywhen’ borrows from anthropologist and W. E. H Stanner’s explanation of the Dreaming as a sacred, heroic time of the indefinitely remote past that is also, in a sense, part of the present. Stanner suggests that The Dreaming cannot be fixed in time, so the Indigenous Australian art collection is presented in a non-chronological way.
‘Everywhen Everywhere’ spoke to an Indigenous understanding of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander country, from ancestral narratives to contemporary political movements across the continent. Together the works reflect that the things that have happened to Indigenous people over the past 200 years are of as much importance to Indigenous experience and existence today, and into the future, as the deeds of the great ancestors from times immemorial.
Highlights of the installation include an impressive group of Thap Yongk (law poles) 2002-03 by Kugu (West Cape York) artist Joe Ngallametta; DISPERSED 2008, a text-based installation in laminated wood, cast aluminum and .303 inch calibre bullets by Badtjala (Fraser Island) artist Fiona Foley, and Up in the Heavens the Gods contemplate their next move 2011, by Cairns based Kala Lagaw Yu (Torres Strait) artist Brian Robinson, which is suspended from the gallery ceiling.
In addition to 1970s Papunya boards by Kaapa Mbitjana Tjampitjinpa, Shorty Lungkarda Tjungarrayi and Mick Namarari Tjapaltjarri works by Albert Namatjira and members of the Hermannsburg School that followed him are featured, celebrating Namatjira’s role in Aboriginal and Australian art history. In 1947 Namatjira become the first artist of Aboriginal heritage to have a work acquired for the State Collection.
‘Everywhen Everywhere’ also includes bark paintings by Anindilyakwa artists commissioned in the 1940s by anthropologist JP Mountford at Groote Eyelandt that depict local ancestral narratives and body painting designs associated with trade winds – an historically significant body of work distinctly different from works produced by present-day Arnhem Land communities.
A group of 17 Lorrkon/larrakitj (Hollow log memorial poles) by Yolngu (Arnhem Land) artists including Gulumbu Yunupingu, Djambawa Marawili and John Bulunbulun feature alongside important paintings by Trevor Nickolls, Lin Onus and Rover Thomas and Embassy 2013, a recently acquired installation by Richard Bell.
Audiences can enter Richard Bell’s tent, which is based on the Aboriginal Tent Embassy, often cited as the spiritual epicentre for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander empowerment struggles from the 1970s, and watch Imagining Victory, a video trilogy that invites the viewer to think about the history of Aboriginal people’s struggle for justice.