Aboriginal artists from the Barkly region of Central Australia present paintings that mark the cyclical nature of the spinifex desert country, using the broad visual language of the Barkly region.
“After the bushfires, when we go hunting, we see black. Then the rain comes and the snappy gums turn green and all the flowers and bush medicines bloom again.” – Ada Pula Beasley
In the hot months, kwaty (rain) fills ephemeral waterholes and flocks of birds pirouette through stormy skies. Delicate flowers scatter the rocky ground, dancing in the fabled Barkly breeze. As days grow shorter, kwaty retreats into the earth and vivid greens fade to pale yellow. Rwa (fire) devours summer’s bounty, coating the ground in silver ash. Time ushers in more rain and spinifex country will soon be green again.
Alatyeyt-angketyarr: Spinifex Country brings together works by Alyawarr, Warumungu and Warlpiri artists from Owairtilla (Canteen Creek), Tennant Creek and Wutunugurra (Epenarra). The exhibition explores the cyclical nature of the central desert. Utilising a broad visual language typical of the Barkly region, artists employ a bright palette, rhythmic mark-making and exaggerated depictions of bush flowers and medicines, capturing the vast, repetitive landscape and transporting the viewer to Alatyeyt-angketyarr – Spinifex Country.
The diverse artworks share a degree of innocence in the views of country and group activities. The narrative style of the paintings reflects the local preference to exclude traditional motifs and symbols that dominate Central and Western Desert art. In is place are images of Country where people have travelled and harvested bush medicine and bush food from native plants.
A joyful sense of life in the communities and in the bush comes through with these paintings. The exhibition is on display at Japingka Gallery until 5 July 2023.