Major Sally Gabori Retrospective announced

Dibirdibi Country 2012 features on the cover of the exhibition publication, purchased 2014 with funds from Margaret Mittelheuser, AM, and Cathryn Mittelheuser, AM, through the Queensland Art Gallery | Gallery of Modern Art Foundation. Collection: Queensland Art Gallery. © Mrs Gabori 2012. Licensed by Viscopy, Sydney, 2016

A retrospective exhibition of more than fifty artworks by the late Bentinck Island artist and senior Kaiadilt woman, Mirdidingkingathi Juwarnda Sally Gabori, opens at the Gallery from 21 May 2016.

‘Mirdidingkingathi Juwarnda Sally Gabori: Dulka Warngiid – Land of All’ celebrates Mrs Gabori’s significant contribution to art.

This exhibition captures in depth Sally Gabori’s instinct for colour and composition, her epic and multi-layered painterly abstractions that resonate with her deep connection to story places on Bentinck Island.

Among the works tracing Gabori’s stylistic shifts over her short but dynamic career are paintings highlighting the artist’s Country at Mirdidingki; her father’s Country at Thundi; her grandfather’s Country at Dingkari; Nyinyilki, the main outstation on Bentinck; and Dibirdibi Country, the places associated with her husband Pat.

Taking its title from the Kayardild language name for Bentinck Island, which translates as ‘the whole world’, ‘the land of all’ or ‘the one place’, the retrospective reflects on the many stories of Gabori’s place and the body of work she created since commencing painting in 2005 at the age of 81.

‘Dulka Warngiid – Land of All’ brings together many important works, including her first and last paintings, large-scale collaborative works produced alongside other senior Kaiadilt women, bark paintings made in conversation with Yolngu artist Nyapanyapa Yunupingu, and works on paper created toward the end of her career.

Gabori’s keen desire to communicate the stories and knowledge accumulated over an incredible life spanning 90 years has left an astonishing legacy. Although many of her paintings appear abstract, they retain an essence of Kaiadilt Country, and at their heart they resonate with universal themes of loss, longing and love.

‘Dulka Warngiid – Land of All’ includes much loved works from our collection such as Dibirdibi Country – Topway 2006, Dibirdibi Country 2008 and 2012, and works drawn from private and public collections nationally, including Sally Gabori’s painting table and paintbrush from the Collection of Beverley and Anthony Knight, OAM.

From 25 June visitors to the exhibition can also experience ‘The Gabori Sisters: Gathering by the Sea’, a large scale interactive project at our Children’s Art Centre. The project has been developed in collaboration with Gabori’s three daughters Dorothy, Elsie and Amanda Gabori.

A major, full colour publication featuring essays by exhibition curator Bruce McLean and Judith Ryan, Senior Curator of Indigenous Art, National Gallery of Victoria will accompany the exhibition.

Mirdidingkingathi Juwarnda Sally Gabori: Dulka Warngiid – Land of All
21 May – 28 August 2016 | QAG | Free

‘Like so many great artists, Sally excelled at painting the world she knew. The key to understanding her art comes from knowing, in at least a small way, 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’.
Bruce McLean, Associate Curator, Australian Art