You, me, art and everything: GOMA turns 10

 

Sugar Spin: you, me, art and everything is our major, free exhibition headlining the tenth anniversary celebrations for the Gallery of Modern Art (GOMA) this year. ‘Sugar Spin’ will showcase contemporary works from the collection across GOMA, every delight that ‘Sugar Spin’ offers also has an edge and the complex connections between humanity and the natural world are celebrated and reconceived.

21st Century: Art in the First DecadeMedia Preview
Carsten Höller, Belgium b.1961 / Left/Right Slide (detail) 2010 / Stainless steel, polycarbonate and rubber mats / Commissioned 2010 with a special allocation from the Queensland Art Gallery Foundation / Collection: Queensland Art Gallery / © The artist / Photograph: Natasha Harth, QAGOMA

From 3 December 2016 visit ‘Sugar Spin’ to experience major new commissions such as Nervescape 2016, a large-scale, multi-coloured landscape of synthetic hair by Icelandic-born, New York-based artist Hrafnhildur Arnardóttir, her first work in Australia and largest in the world to date. Nervescape will appear alongside a rich display of more than 250 artworks from the Gallery’s Collection.

Highlights include Carsten Höller’s much-loved Left/Right Slide 2010 that will spiral visitors from the top to the bottom of GOMA, Ron Mueck’s oversized woman In bed 2005, Olafur Eliasson’s interactive installation of thousands of white Lego pieces The cubic structural evolution project 2004, Kohei Nawa’s bubble encrusted Pix-cell Double Deer #4 2010, and Céleste Boursier-Mougenot’s musical installation of live finches, from here to ear (v.13) 2010.

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Celeste Boursier-Mougenot, France b.1961 / from here to ear (v.13) (and detail) 2010 / Five octagonal structures (each made in maple and plywood), harpsichord strings piano tuning pins, audio system (contact microphones, amplifiers, guitar processors and speakers), coat hangers, feeding trays and bowls, seeds, water, nests, sand and grass / Purchased 2011. Queensland Art Gallery Foundation / Collection: Queensland Art Gallery / © The artist / Photograph: Natasha Harth, QAGOMA

Our 10-year milestone is a time to reflect on GOMA’s impact locally and nationally, and to look toward its future. GOMA has been a force for cultural change, stimulating our audience’s appetite for contemporary art and ideas. QAGOMA takes pride in a decade of world class exhibitions and programs and celebrates wonderful additions to the state art Collection. It’s only fitting that in marking this milestone the gallery offers visitors of all ages a multi-faceted, sensory and participatory art experience.

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Ron Mueck, England b.1958 / In bed 2005 / Mixed media / Purchased 2008. Queensland Art Gallery Foundation / Collection: Queensland Art Gallery / © The artist / Photograph: Natasha Harth, QAGOMA

On 3 December we will unveil a series of birthday gifts to the Collection, among them the electrifying Heard by American sculptor and performance artist Nick Cave. This group of brightly coloured sculptural horse costumes will be brought to life by dancers at the GOMA Turns 10 opening weekend and become part of the exhibition’.

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Nick Cave b.1959 / HEARD DETROIT 2015 / Photograph: James Prinz / Image courtesy: The artist and Jack Shainman Gallery, New York

‘Sugar Spin’ will also include many acquisitions secured through the Gallery’s flagship Asia Pacific Triennial series of exhibitions, such as Huang Yong Ping’s monumental skeletal serpent Ressort 2012, Monir Shahroudy Farmanfarmaian’s multi-panel mirror mosaic Lightning for Neda 2009 and Lee Mingwei’s invitation to share intimate stories of how we relate to others in Writing the unspoken 1999.

‘Sugar Spin’ will make full use of GOMA’s unmatched exhibition spaces, taking audiences on a journey from the majestic to the minute, traversing five distinct chapters: ‘sweetmelt’, ‘blackwater’, ‘soaring’, ‘treasure’, and the dramatic finale of ‘cosmos’.

The exhibition will reflect the colour and energy of Queensland, Australia’s sugar state, drawing works from our leading artists together with their global peers. Playful and seductive, ‘Sugar Spin’ will bring moments of joy together with dizziness and a deeper sense of unease. It will reflect the beauty of the world we live in, as well as the complex challenges of these turbulent times.

Nervescape is Hrafnhildur Arnardóttir’s first work in Australia and her largest to date. Part beast, part hair-do, part colour field painting, Nervescape has been created especially for GOMA’s expansive Long Gallery. Like many works in ‘Sugar Spin’ it is super sweet, pumped with colour, energy, and a hint of disquiet.

From 19 November, GOMA’s Children’s Art Centre will present ‘Mirror Mirror’, a free and interactive project that has been developed in collaboration with Arnardóttir. In this immersive installation inspired by the artist’s vibrant and tactile practice, young visitors can create their own extraordinary paper hairstyle and help style a wall of artificial hair-like material.

To continue the celebrations, the Gallery will host the GOMA Turns 10 Summer Festival, an all-ages festival from 18-22 January 2017. The festival will include artist talks, tours, creative workshops, storytelling, a crash course in contemporary art and an all-star line-up of musicians for Summer Festival Up Late, including tailored performances for children.

Subscribe to QAGOMA YouTube to go behind-the-scenes / Hear artists tell their stories / Read about your Collection

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Hunters and collectors: A passion for art

 

Anne and Greg Hunter can tell a remarkable tale of art enthusiasm and generosity – it starts with them reading an artwork label and ends with them helping to realise the acquisition of a talented Mithila artist’s work.

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Pushpa Kumari, India b.1969 / Prakriti-Purusha (and detail) 2014 / Ink on acid free paper / Purchased 2016 with funds from Anne and Greg Hunter through the Queensland Art Gallery | Gallery of Modern Art Foundation / Collection: Queensland Art Gallery /© The artist

Having relocated to Brisbane after many years in regional Queensland, QAGOMA Premium Members Anne and Greg Hunter became great enthusiasts of the Gallery and return visitors to The 8th Asia Pacific Triennial of Contemporary Art (APT8) which spanned many of the spaces of QAG and GOMA before closing in April 2016. In particular, they were taken by the intricate inked geometries of Mithila artist Pushpa Kumari’s elaborate paintings displayed as part of the APT8 focus project Kalpa Vriksha Contemporary Indigenous and Vernacular Art of India. Whilst viewing the work and enjoying the beauty of the Kumari’s line work and composition, Anne Hunter also caught sight of text on the artist’s artwork labels: ‘Proposed for the Queensland Art Gallery Collection’.

Scrutinising other works in the display, the Hunters realised that Kumar’s Prakriti-Purusha 2014 was without a label identifying it as part of the ‘Queensland Art Gallery Collection’ and enjoying the security of finding an acquisition supporter.

The Hunters contacted QAGOMA, hoping to help the Gallery in some way to keep Kumari’s paintings in Brisbane. As it turned out, supporting an acquisition of Kumari’s painting was well within their grasp and a few conversations with the Foundation and QAGOMA’s curatorial staff led to the Hunters donating funds towards the purchase of Prakriti-Purusha and a brand new credit line for the work.

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Prakriti and Purusha, female and male energy, are represented in an embrace in Prakriti-Purusha, where the two bodies become entwined and their profiles join to form a single face. Circled by a border of repeating motifs drawn from Mithila iconography such as fish and peacocks, Kumari’s work is laden with symbolism and the weight of both myth and history.

For the Hunters, a further narrative became entangled in the delicate lines of Prakriti-Purusha – one which grew with each conversation about the work and is now intimately bound to the memory of their time enjoying the Kalpa Vriksha display in APT8. This personal story ties their passion for Kumari’s artwork together with their first experience of supporting the Gallery.

The QAGOMA Foundation is the primary fundraising body of the Gallery and since its establishment in 1979 has acquired more than 7200 artworks.

Ancestral storys and personal history overlap in Sally Gabori’s art

 

The overwhelming majority of Mirdidinkingathi Juwarnda Sally Gabori’s paintings focused on Dibirdibi Country, the Country associated with the Rock Cod Ancestor, and of her husband.

In 2005 Gabori was introduced to painting, and her unique style, vision and story captured the imagination of the art world. Mixing wet paints on canvas to create tonal shifts, she evoked geological or ecological flux on Bentinck Island. As we continue the story of Sally’s world, find out why ancestral story and intimate personal history overlap in her art. If you haven’t seen the exhibition, it must close this weekend.

‘This is my husband’s country on Bentinck Island. Its real name is Kabararrji but I call it after his language name.’ Mirdidingkingathi Juwarnda Sally Gabori

At the end of the last ice age, sea levels rose dramatically. The former Lake Carpentaria joined the Arafura Sea to the west and the Torres Strait to the east. The land surrounding the Wellesley Ridge became inundated, cutting off Bentinck Island from the mainland and from its neighbouring islands. Kaiadilt history commemorates this climatic episode – which occurred some 6000 years ago – through the narrative of Dibirdibi who carved the South Wellesley Islands off from one another with his ventral fins. Dibirdibi’s creative and destructive journey ended at Bardathurr on Sweers Island where he was caught and eaten. His liver was discarded at the sea’s edge, transforming into a freshwater spring that provides a reliable water source to this day.

DELVE DEEPER: The life and art of Sally Gabori

Mirdidingkingathi Juwarnda Sally Gabori, Kaiadilt people, Australia c.1924–2015 / Dibirdibi Country 2011 / Synthetic polymer paint on linen / Winner 2012 Gold Award. Gift of the Moya Gold Trust through the Rockhampton Art Gallery Trust. / Collection: Rockhampton Art Gallery / © Mirdidingkingathi Juwarnda Sally Gabori/Copyright Agency

For Gabori, ancestral story and intimate personal history overlap: her husband Kabararrjingathi Bulthuku Pat Gabori was also called Dibirdibi as the inheritor of the story and associated places. Pat’s birthplace, his Country, is Kabararrji, which sits next to Gabori’s Country near the creek at Mirdidingki. In painting Dibirdibi Country Sally Gabori may be referring to Pat’s birth Country or to the places he is associated with through ownership of that narrative cycle.

The Dibirdibi paintings depict inland estuarine salt pans, ironstone ridges, mangrove swamps, rivers, reefs, rock-walled fish traps, a freshwater waterhole and hunting ground covered in waterlilies and brimming with turtles, grasslands where malji was collected to make grass baskets, and Bardathurr, where Dibirdibi came to rest.

Acknowledgment of Country
The Queensland Art Gallery | Gallery of Modern Art acknowledges the Traditional Owners of the land on which the Gallery stands in Brisbane. We pay respect to Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Elders past and present and, in the spirit of reconciliation, acknowledge the immense creative contribution First Australians make to the art and culture of this country.

It is customary in many Indigenous communities not to mention the name or reproduce photographs of the deceased. All such mentions and photographs on the QAGOMA Blog are with permission, however, care and discretion should be exercised.

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Visit Makarrki, Sally Gabori’s brother’s country

 

Mirdidingkingathi Juwarnda Sally Gabori lived an entirely traditional life for her first 23 years, moving between her family’s main homeland sites and living according to an unbroken ancestral culture. In 1948, following devastating drought, storms and a near four-metre tidal surge, she and her kin were moved to nearby Mornington Island. In our series on her work we look at her brother’s country.

DELVE DEEPER: The life and art of Sally Gabori

Sally Gabori ‘Makarrki – King Alfred’s Country’

Birmuyingathi Maali Netta Loogatha, Artist, Kaiadilt people, Australia b.1942 / Mirdidingkingathi Juwarnda Sally Gabori, Artist, Kaiadilt people, Australia b.c.1924-2015 / Warthadangathi Bijarrba Ethel Thomas, Artist, Kaiadilt people, Australia b.1946 / Thunduyingathi Bijarrb May Moodoonuthi, Artist, Kaiadilt people, Australia b.1929 -2008 / Kuruwarriyingathi Bijarrb Paula Paul, Artist, Kaiadilt people, Australia b.c.1937 / Wirrngajingathi Bijarrb Kurdalalngk Dawn Naranatjil, Artist, Kaiadilt people, Australia 1935-2009 / Rayarriwarrtharrbayingathi Mingungurra Amy Loogatha, Artist, Kaiadilt people, Australia b.1942 / Makarrki – King Alfred’s Country 2008 / Synthetic polymer paint on linen / 200 x 600cm / Purchased 2009 with funds from Professor John Hay AC and Mrs Barbara Hay through the Queensland Art Gallery Foundation / Collection: Queensland Art Gallery | Gallery of Modern Art / © The artists

In 2007, inspired by a return to Country, Sally led a monumental effort to map many important Kaiadilt places through three epic six metre long collaborative paintings alongside her sisters and nieces — Thunduyingathi Bijarrb May Moodoonuthi, Wirrngajingathi Bijarrb Kurdalalngk Dawn Naranatjil, Kuruwarriyingathi Bijarrb Kurdalalngk Paula Paul, Rayarriwarrtharrbayingathi Mingungurra Amy Loogatha, Birrmuyingathi Maali Netta Loogatha and Warthadangathi Bijarrba Ethel Thomas — all of whom were born on Bentinck before the exodus.

The incredibly exuberant works focused on three subjects: Dulka Warngiid and mapping Bentinck Island through their dulkiiwatha (the places they were born and the ties that bind them to those places); Sweers Island, the second largest of the islands of their Kaiadilt Country, including the final resting place of Dibirdibi, the Rock Cod Ancestor; and Makarrki (King Alfred’s Country), mapping the place of King Alfred, a key figure in all of the artists’ lives.

Makarrki is a very special place and has a big river that runs through it. This is where dugong and turtles come on a high tide making it easy for the men to catch them. Mirdidingkingathi Juwarnda Sally Gabori

The head of the Makarrki River, at the heart of the northern shore of Bentinck Island, was an important hunting ground and Sally often recalled the exploits of her brother (or brother-in-law) Tarurukingathi Kulkitji (Buddy) wrestling with dugongs here. It was also the country of her older brother, Makarrkingathi Dingkarringathi Thuwathu Bijarrb (King Alfred). King Alfred was the leader of the main Kaiadilt clan in the years prior to their removal to Mornington Island. He is remembered by his family as a strong warrior and leader.

Visit Sally Gabori’s world to understand her deep connection to Bentinck Island. 

Explore Sally Gabori’s Bentinck Island online interactive

In the late 1940s a period of great drought caused tremendous friction within Kaiadilt society and conflict was common. In a fateful turn of events King Alfred took the life of Buddy, before Buddy’s brother, Kabararjingathi Bulthuku Pat Gabori killed the King and took his younger sister, Sally, as his wife. Sally’s paintings of this place are layered with complex memories and intense emotions.

Sally and her sisters and nieces who collaborated on Makarrki – King Alfred’s Country 2008 (illustrated) have said:

We have painted one of the most important places on Bentinck Island. This is where King Alfred was born. This is his country. King Alfred was Sally’s big brother…. He was famous as a strong warrior and leader; he was feared by other tribes. This place is special to all seven of us. We all have close connection to this country. That is why we picked it as painting for us to do together.

Acknowledgment of Country
The Queensland Art Gallery | Gallery of Modern Art acknowledges the Traditional Owners of the land on which the Gallery stands in Brisbane. We pay respect to Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Elders past and present and, in the spirit of reconciliation, acknowledge the immense creative contribution First Australians make to the art and culture of this country.

It is customary in many Indigenous communities not to mention the name or reproduce photographs of the deceased. All such mentions and photographs on the QAGOMA Blog are with permission, however, care and discretion should be exercised.

#QAGOMA

Explore Sally Gabori’s world

 

The world of the late Bentinck Island artist and senior Kaiadilt woman Mirdidingkingathi Juwarnda Sally Gabori (b.c.1924-2015) is explored in our interactive ‘Dulka Warngiid – Land of All’.

Visit Sally Gabori’s world to understand her deep connection to Country and her home, Bentinck Island which is revealed through her art in vibrant colour, bold forms and gestural brushstrokes.

Explore Sally Gabori’s Bentinck Island online interactive

‘Danda ngijinda dulk, danda ngijinda malaa, danda ngad’
(This is my Land, this is my Sea, this is who I am)

Mirdidingkingathi Juwarnda Sally Gabori

‘Dulka Warngiid – Land of all’ is taken from the Kayardild language name for Bentinck Island, which translates as ‘the whole world’, ‘the land of all’ or ‘the one place’. The key to understanding Sally Gabori’s art comes from knowing her place — Kaiadilt Country — home to the Kaiadilt people on Bentinck Island. At just 16 by 18 kilometres, it is the largest of the South Wellesley group of islands in the southern Gulf of Carpentaria, off north-western Queensland, in northern Australia.

Acknowledgment of Country
The Queensland Art Gallery | Gallery of Modern Art acknowledges the Traditional Owners of the land on which the Gallery stands in Brisbane. We pay respect to Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Elders past and present and, in the spirit of reconciliation, acknowledge the immense creative contribution First Australians make to the art and culture of this country.

It is customary in many Indigenous communities not to mention the name or reproduce photographs of the deceased. All such mentions and photographs on the QAGOMA Blog are with permission, however, care and discretion should be exercised.

#QAGOMA

Gain an insight into Sally Gabori’s painting technique

 

Mirdidingkingathi Juwarnda Sally Gabori’s instinct for colour and composition approaches abstraction while conveying a deep connection to her important places and family.

This is the tabletop on which Sally Gabori painted many of her smaller works. Her large-scale works were painted against the eastern wall of the art centre on Mornington Island, facing toward her country. The tabletop gives an insight into the way Gabori worked, its texture revealing the way she mixed wet paints together on the surface of the canvas and pushed excess paint over the edges.

When Gabori painted, she often laughed and sang, reminiscing about the people and places she was painting. When she was reunited with her works in art galleries she would sing to them, reaffirming the links between the paintings and the places and people connected to them through Kayardild language and song.

DELVE DEEPER: The life and art of Sally Gabori

Mirdidingkingathi Juwarnda Sally Gabori, Kaiadilt people, Australia c.1924–2015 / Painting table / Tabletop and paintbrush with synthetic polymer paint / Collection: Beverly and Anthony Knight, OAM / © Mirdidingkingathi Juwarnda Sally Gabori/Copyright Agency / Photographs: M Sherwood © QAGOMA

Acknowledgment of Country
The Queensland Art Gallery | Gallery of Modern Art acknowledges the Traditional Owners of the land on which the Gallery stands in Brisbane. We pay respect to Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Elders past and present and, in the spirit of reconciliation, acknowledge the immense creative contribution First Australians make to the art and culture of this country.

It is customary in many Indigenous communities not to mention the name or reproduce photographs of the deceased. All such mentions and photographs on the QAGOMA Blog are with permission, however, care and discretion should be exercised.

#QAGOMA