Who’s Afraid of Colour?
by Tamie Cleaver
WHO'S AFRAID OF COLOUR?
The Ian Potter Centre: NGV Australia
16 December 2016 - April 2017
The thing I love most about art is getting that tiny snap shot into the minds and lives of artists, and the latest installation at NGV’s Ian Potter Centre, is a perfect example.
Who’s Afraid of Colour is an expansive exhibition featuring not simply artists, but women considered stewardesses of indigenous Australian culture.
I recommend taking it slow, there’s so much to see, you’ll want to absorb every detail of every story behind each piece, from Lorna Napurrurla Fencer’s beautiful picture of looping lines “Yam Dreaming”, depicting the cracks caused in the red earth as the roots of the yam ripen and burst up through the ground. To Julie Gough’s confronting “Chase”, shown through a tea tree forest with tiny scraps of red fabric caught in the bark of the trees. Gough writes “Chase is about terror, flight, this is the unspoken space and place called Australia: terror nullius”. Terror nullius translates to nobody’s land, and notes how Australia was “acquired” through occupation.
A highlight is Emily Kam Kngwarray’s six “Awely” paintings depicting striped body markings for Awely ceremonies, and her epic “Big Yam Dreaming”, both in black and white, a point not missed in an exhibition titled “Who’s Afraid Of Colour”.
Aside from paintings, I met Lorraine Connelly-Northey, a Wiradjuri artist who creates narrbongs (dilly bags) from scrap metal, shells and even her own hair. She told me these bags, traditionally used to carry food, are made to pass down from mother to daughter, and from grand-mother to grand-daughter.
Bindi Cole Chocka uses pictures of herself and her family with faces painted black to explore her own personal indigenous heritage in an exhibition called “Not Really Aboriginal”, a fascinating personal story accompanied by a separate piece titled “We All Need Forgiveness”. A video wall featuring 30 faces repeating the words, I Forgive You.
Award winning artist Jenny Crompton’s ethereal display of suspended sculptures will have you mesmerised, and her story of only discovering her aboriginal heritage at the age of 41 is intriguing.
At only 21 years of age, Claudia Moodoonuthi’s art works feel wise beyond her years, yet playful in their settings, including six vibrantly painted skateboards. And, as if to prove the artistic gene runs deep in Claudia’s family, head across the hall to see her ‘aunt’, Sally Gabori’s solo exhibition, “Land Of All”. I say ‘aunt’, Claudia is Sally’s great-grand niece, I’ll let you work that link out.