Exhibition: Malarra, Angalya akwa Amamardamilya (Rock, Leaf and Land)
12 August – 02 September 2023
Laundry Gallery | Darwin NT
Malarra, Angalya akwa Amamardamilya (Rock, Leaf and Land) 2023 is an exhibition of contemporary artworks from Anindilyakwa Arts that explores artists’ traditional and contemporary use of natural pigments as an expression of relationship with Country.
In their first exhibition, artists from the art centre’s Men’s Art program have worked exclusively with locally sourced manganese pigment and wood to create visual representations of totems, stories and Songlines, that are significant to each artist.
While today Groote Eylandt may be best known for its high-quality manganese ore exports, manganese has long been a feature of Anindilyakwa creative expression – most notably in traditional bark paintings. Artists drew on the characteristically opaque, black background of Anindilyakwa barks to create the basis of their sculptural works; experimenting with textured and smooth finishes that are subtly accented by natural wood, carved details and, in one artist’s case, sacred coloured sand.
The Groote Archipelago has some of the world’s largest deposits of manganese and is home to one of the largest and longest running manganese mines. While manganese represents a significant contributor to the local economy, this legacy has pre-dated the mine’s establishment and the mineral is recorded as being traded with Macassan crews during their seasonal visits pre-Federation/1901. The artists’ incorporation of manganese into contemporary works extends beyond a nod to traditional art practices. It is a conscious choice to incorporate this culturally and economically valuable element of Country into future, locally-led economies, which will continue to strengthen as the long-running manganese mine on Groote Eylandt winds down over the coming decade.
Accompanying the sculptures of the Men’s Art program, the female artists of Anindilyakwa Arts have pushed the boundaries of their well renown bush dye practice to develop a new palette of colours, each tone created in close relationship with Country. Green, purple and pink hues, accented by more familiar inky tones, spill across custom lengths of silk of up to 4 metres. The suspended silks capture the delicate imprints of the endemic leaves, roots and barks used by the women during their communal dye practices and bring Anindilyakwa Country into the gallery space.
Read more in the exhibition catalogue here.