‘Mirdidingkingathi Juwarnda Sally Gabori: Dulka Warngiid – Land of All’ celebrates Mrs Gabori’s significant contribution to art. (Queensland Art Gallery 21 May – 28 August 2016) .
This exhibition captured 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.
‘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, Former Curator, Australian Art, QAGOMA
Among the works tracing Gabori’s stylistic shifts over her short but dynamic career were 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.
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‘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 Gabori’s painting table and paintbrush from the Collection of Beverley and Anthony Knight, OAM.
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