An exhibition at the Art Gallery of South Australia, John Mawurndjul: I am the old and the new, showcases the work of one of Australia’s most ground-breaking contemporary Indigenous artists.
John Mawurndjul AM is celebrated for his mastery of bark paintings and sculptures, and the stories he tells of his Kuninjku culture. Born in 1952, John’s work has always featured the significant places surrounding his home in West Arnhem Land.
The exhibition brings together works from national and international collections created over a 40-year period. John has taken the lead in pulling together the exhibition, which includes a 40-minute video in language describing cultural influences on his work and the intricate rarrk technique he is renowned for.
The Kuniniku language is one of several West Arnhem Aboriginal languages spoken by the Bininj Kunwok peoples and is supported by the Government’s Indigenous Languages and Arts program. The program provides ongoing funding to the West Arnhem Regional Council for the Bininj Kunwok Language Project.
The Indigenous Languages and Arts program also provided funding to help linguist Murray Garde prepare the Kuninjku translations and narrate the exhibition’s accompanying video.
The exhibition was developed by the artist in collaboration with the Museum of Contemporary Art and the Art Gallery of South Australia, in association with Maningrida Arts and Culture.
The exhibition is showing at the Art Gallery of South Australia until 29 January 2019. It will then tour regionally to 8 eight centres across New South Wales, Queensland and Victoria during 2019-20, thanks to support through the Australian Government’s, Visions of Australia program:
The United Nations has declared 2019 the International Year of Indigenous Languages, to raise awareness of the crucial role languages play in people’s daily lives. Throughout the year, we will be sharing stories to promote the work underway to protect and preserve Australia’s Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander languages.