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DISPLAYING POSTS TAGGED: tjukurrtjanu (2)

Tjukurrtjanu to travel

Author
by Simon
Publish date
5 March 2012
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Your Question: Which Museum Victoria exhibition is going to Paris this year?

The stunning Tjukurrtjanu: Origins of Western Desert Art exhibition, a collaboration between the National Gallery of Victoria and Museum Victoria in partnership with Papunya Tula Pty Ltd, is off to France. This exhibition was on show at The Ian Potter Centre: NGV Australia and is now being carefully packed to be sent to Paris for display at the Musée du quai Branly in October this year.

Big Pintupi Dreaming ceremony 1972 Anatjari Tjakamarra, Big Pintupi Dreaming ceremony 1972
Image: NGV
Source: National Gallery of Victoria © artists and their estates 2011, licensed by Aboriginal Artists Agency Limited and Papunya Tula Artists Pty Ltd
 

It is a wonderful example of cooperation between public institutions and generous private lenders to bring together and showcase over 200 paintings completed between 1971 and 1972 from the Papunya region of the Western Desert. This initial production of paintings represented the founding of the Western Desert art movement and led to an explosive growth in the Aboriginal art movement. Museum Victoria has loaned numerous artefacts for this exhibition from its extensive collections. Tjukurrtjanu also presents 150 objects, including 78 painted and incised shields, spear throwers, pearl shell pendants, stone knives, head bands and ephemeral body ornaments, that establish the paintings pre-existing Western Desert iconography.

Group of decorated shields from Central Australia Group of decorated shields from Central Australia
Image: Museum Victoria
Source: Museum Victoria
 

The Musée du quai Branly is a recent addition to the museum scene in Paris, opening near the base of the Eiffel Tower in 2006. It has a collection of some 300,000 objects and is well known for its beautiful external ‘living walls’ featuring a variety of living plants and mosses. The museum exists to display and promote the indigenous cultures of Oceania, Asia, Africa and the Americas. It already holds collections of Aboriginal art from the north and central desert regions of Australia; bark paintings from Arnhem Land collected in the 1960s, contemporary acrylic paintings and a ceiling spectacularly painted by Indigenous artists.

Old Man’s Dreaming at Mitukatjirri 1972 Charlie Wartuma Tjungurrayi, Old Man’s Dreaming at Mitukatjirri
Image: NGV
Source: National Gallery of Victoria © artists and their estates 2011, licensed by Aboriginal Artists Agency Limited and Papunya Tula Artists Pty Ltd
 

The Tjukurrtjanu exhibition will show a Parisian and European audience how Aboriginal people use art to tell their stories and to ensure the continuation of their culture.

  Exterior of Musee du quai Branly Exterior of Musee du quai Branly, Paris
Image: Andreas Praefcke
Source: Wikimedia Commons
 

Australian artists have had huge success in overseas markets over the years, the Tate Gallery in London holds works by Sidney Nolan; Russell Drysdale enjoyed overseas acclaim as do current Australian artists such as Ron Mueck with his hyper-real sculptures. Yet it can be argued that Australia’s Indigenous artists and their art are currently the best known examples of Australian art in the rest of the world. Indeed, this is the first time that an art exhibition solely developed by the NGV and Museum Victoria has been accepted in a major European venue.

Links:

National Gallery of Victoria - Tjukurrtjanu

Museum Victoria: Collections and Research – Indigenous Cultures

Papunya Tula Artists

MV Blog: Tjukurrtjanu: Origins of Western Desert Art

Tjukurrtjanu: Origins of Western Desert Art

Author
by Kate C
Publish date
23 September 2011
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On 30 September, the exhibition Tjukurrtjanu: Origins of Western Desert Art opens at the National Gallery of Victoria. It features 200 early paintings from the artists of Papunya Tula, recognised as the founders of the Western Desert art movement forty years ago.

The exhibition is co-curated by NGV's Judith Ryan and Dr Philip Batty, Senior Curator of Anthropology in MV's Indigenous Cultures Department. He spent three years at Papunya (about 240 km north-west of Alice Springs) as an art teacher at Papunya School and a community development officer. He got to know many of the original Papunya Tula artists in the late 1970s.

Central Australian Decorated Stone Knives Central Australian decorated stone knives produced by the Warumangu people (Tennant Creek) and collected by Baldwin Spencer in the early 1900s.
Image: Ben Healley
Source: Museum Victoria

Philip has lots of stories from this time, including the tale of a two-week trip across the desert with Johnny Warangkula Tjupurrula, one of the most prominent Papunya Tula artists with a unique style of painting layers of dots. Tjupurrula grew up in the bush and first encountered European people when he was eight or nine years old.

"We were going on a trip to his traditional Country... he hadn't been back there for a number of years.

"We were driving off into the desert in the middle of nowhere, right off any roads, with no maps and not much food or water. We were relying on his knowledge of Country to take us to waterholes.

"He'd say we drive this way for a while then he'd clamber up on the back of the truck look around and as he looked around he'd sing a traditional chant. And after 5 or 10 minutes of singing, he'd say right, now we go this way. We'd drive for a while, and then he'd do the same thing. Each evening we'd end up at a little waterhole, often only a metre or so across.

"In his head he had this map of all these different songlines going across his part of the Country. The songs name geographical sites through the journey of a particular ancestor. When he was singing he was reminding himself where he was. It was a very practical business."

Their final destination was Tjupurrula's ancestral home, Tjikari. "It was a small mountain and we had to climb up in silence, carrying particular bushes. As we were coming up the mountain, Warangkula was shouting out to the ancestor in a cave, swearing at the ancestor in his language, Pintupi Luritja. I'm not quite sure what was going on but think he was trying to scare the ancestor away."

Tjukurrtjanu includes a wall full of shields from the Museum Victoria collection decorated with iconographic designs; artefacts such as these are the origins of Western Desert art, but the story is not quite so simple as transferring traditional ceremonial symbols to the new mediums of boards, canvases and acrylic paints.

Central Australian Decorated Shields. Central Australian Decorated Shields. Carved and fluted beanwood (Erythrina vespertilio) with applied earth pigments.
Image: Ben Healley
Source: Museum Victoria

Says Philip, "I see it as cross-cultural form of art, as a result of Aboriginal-European collision. Long before the 1970s, Aboriginal people were manufacturing artefacts and paintings for sale to tourists, missionaries and museums. In the days before social security it was an important source of cash."

"Papunya Tula artists were addressing a market, but that doesn't diminish the complexity and interest of their paintings. They drew heavily on traditions and they also expanded that of iconographic language to create new approaches, particularly in those early paintings."

Links:

Tjukurrtjanu: Origins of Western Desert Art

Central Australia collections at MV

Papunya Tula Artists

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