Our Country: APY Lands. GNYP Gallery.
14. September 2023 - 7. Oktober 2023
Ngura is a central concept for the Anangu people of the Anangu Pitjantjatjara Yankunytjatjara (APY) Lands, a sparsely populated desert region in the north of the Australian state of South Australia. Ngura means ‘earth, country, home’ in the Pitjantjatjara and Yankunytjatjara languages. For Aboriginal women and men, their land and the stories connected to the land and their being are integral. As Nyurpaya Kaika Burton, one of the senior artists connected to the APY Art Centre Collective, states: “We were born into this story, into this country”. The land is not separate from the people, who are the land’s inherent and perpetual custodians. The concept of ngura, home country, is the central subject in the bold, colourful compositions of the artists of the APY Art Centre Collective. The APY Art Centre Collective, located in eight communities across the APY Lands, was founded in 2016 and became a catalyst for an extraordinary body of work to come out of this region. All the art centres that now form this collective know different stories and origins. Ernabella Arts, for instance, was established in 1948 and is the oldest art centre in Central Australia. The most recent art centre to be included is Umoona Art Centre, which was only established in 2020 (Coober Pedy). Kukika Adamson, Nyunmiti Burton, Yaritji Heffernan, Tuppy Goodwin, Sandra Pumani, Sally Scales and Rhoda Tjitayi, the artists in this exhibition, represent several generations. Each have their own unique and individual style. The Umoona collaborative (Jeannie Minunga, Kay Finn and Myra Kumantjara) canvases reflect the fact that producing art, in the past and still today, is a communal effort, just as celebrating the land from which it emanates during ceremony. Typically, concentric circles are used to depict sites of significance, while lines that connect these circle motifs often show the tracks of the ancestral beings in the elemental creation stories known as Tjukurpa (Dreamings). The vibrantly colourful paintings of these artists not only are a continuation of an artistic tradition that goes back many thousands of years, but also give voice to an engagement in Aboriginal rights in regard to governance, sustainable land management, and the protection of sacred sites. Artists of these remote communities travel around country and go into caves to see the artwork of their ancestors. Art is about country, knowledge of the land, and with it custodianship of that land. Several of the sites depicted, including Antara, a sacred place that is associated with Kungkarangkalpa, more widely known as the Seven Sisters story, are important women’s sites. It are places that belong to women’s law. /Georges Petitjean
This group exhibition of APY Art Centre Collective and Mimili Maku Arts artists is in collaboration with Arndt Art Agency (A3) (Berlin/Melbourne)