National Art Exhibition Opens at Toowoomba Regional Art Gallery

Toowoomba City Hall

A national art exhibition is set to open this week at the Toowoomba Regional Art Gallery with Three Echoes – Western Desert Art, set to open to the public on Saturday 4 March 2023.

Curated by celebrated curator, writer, artist and activist, Djon Mundine OAM FAHA, Three Echoes – Western Desert Art showcases works by 57 acclaimed artists heralding from Ikuntji (Haasts Bluff), Papunya and Utopia Aboriginal communities in the Western Desert regions of the Northern Territory, Australia.

Artworks in this exhibition have been drawn from the private collection of Andrew Arnott and Karin Schack, and reflect the significant artistic developments and moments in time that contributed to the meteoric rise of the Western Desert Art movement.

These artworks hold special meaning for First Nations peoples, communicating important stories of tjukurrpa (Dreaming) and Country. The relationships within families and ancestors; with flora and fauna; and the unique land formations are the foundations of this art.

Three Echoes – Western Desert Art is an initiative of Museums & Galleries Queensland.

Executive Director, Rebekah Butler said Three Echoes – Western Desert Art features some of Australia’s most critically acclaimed artists from including Billy Stockman Tjapaltjarri, Turkey Tolson Tjupurrula, Warlimpirrnga Tjapaltjarri, Narputta Nangala Jugadai, Long Tom Tjapanangka, Dr George Tjapaltjarri, Gloria Petyarre and Emily Kame Kngwarreye.

“We are proud to have developed and to be touring this stunningly beautiful Western Desert Art exhibition of paintings, prints and batiks and to share these works with Australian audiences,” Ms Butler said.

Curator Djon Mundine OAM FAHA said the exhibition was a true reflection of echoes from years past.

“In the early 1970s, my father once told me of how, when he was a child in Bandjalung country, people coming along the river or through the woods would ‘Coo-ee’ to announce their presence at certain places where their voice would echo repeatedly, reverberating into the distance; to which the receiver would, ‘chant-like’, respond,” Mr Mundine said.

Three Echoes – Western Desert Art explores the poetic notion of echoes – how metaphorically and metaphonically we can echo a thought, a sentiment or a consciousness. In the 1970s Australian Aboriginal people from the desert began talking to the world through art, transferring their creation stories of the land and people to canvas. Now, in the 2020s, this foundational echo is going back and forth. No longer a one-sided, outward calling, it reverberates multi-dimensionally within wider Australian and global communities.

Three Echoes – Western Desert Art is on display at Toowoomba Regional Art Gallery until Sunday 7 May 2023.

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