~ Colour My Country
Given the circumstances ~ we’re presenting this major solo show in New Zealand ~ as a ‘digital’ exhibition, and also as part of the virtual 2020 Auckland Art Fair ~ All works can still be viewed by private arrangement and with careful social distancing measures in place.
My Country ’, 2011. 1910 x 1010mm – Synthetic polymer paint on linen – (AK16813)f months ago. And it is at times of such significant change – in our case a global pandemic – that the big questions about art are often asked. Can art save lives? No. Can art offer us a tangible connection to other human experiences outside our own lives? Yes. And can art keep giving us joy in timeless ways that simply brighten and enrich our lives? Most definitely.
One such artist whose work typifies that last point is the major Australian Aboriginal painter Mirdidingkingathi Juwarnda Sally Gabori. Her colourful and long life saw her personal situation change numerous times too. Born on Bentinck Island in the Gulf of Carpentaria, she was forcibly moved off her island by missionaries after a tsunami event just after the second world war – leaving behind her stories, her culture, and most profoundly, her land.
Yet she only picked up her first paintbrush in the Mornington Island Arts Centre around the age of 80. And from then on, for about 10 years, she was unstoppable – recording and laying down memories of her island home, and the emotions and stories that came from it.
Her paintings are all landscapes, sophisticated and powerful expressions of an extraordinarily humble life – but one which deeply resonated from within an ancient and noble culture over 40,000 years in the making.
It’s at moments of human history like now that her work takes on an even more profound meaning – speaking to us at a time of uncertainty, reassuring us that life goes on, and sharing the irrepressible warmth of human existence that art can bring us.
I am grateful to the team at Alcaston Gallery, Melbourne and The Estate of Sally Gabori for their continued support, and also to John McPhee who has allowed us to reproduce his wonderful essay from last year’s show at The Vivian.
~ Downloads for this show