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Reviews/Fringe World Festival/Visual Art

Hit the road with Yoowalkoorl

13 January 2021

You can take a road trip to some of Western Australia’s most remote locations, without leaving Noongar boodjar, at Midland Junction Arts Centre and AACHWA’s “Yoowalkoorl – Come On, Come Here” exhibition. Barbara Hostalek explains.

‘Yoowalkoorl – Come On, Come Here’, Aboriginal Arts Hub of Western Australia (AACHWA) and Midland Junction Arts Centre* ·
Midland Junction Arts Centre ·

“Yoowalkoorl – Come On, Come Here” (Bibbulmun Noongar language) invites you on a spectacular road trip through the landscapes and cultures of Western Australia, without leaving Noongar boodjar.

Presented by the Aboriginal Art Centre Hub of Western Australia (AACHWA) and Midland Junction Arts Centre and curated by arts workers from regional and remote art centres as part of AACHWA’s Our Future training program*, this exhibition features 51 works by 46 artists from arts centres across the length and breadth of WA, some situated in the most remote parts of the state (and just over the border). Diverse in culture, medium and narrative, the works of “Yoowalkoorl” share personal and community stories connecting people to water, families, totems, spirits and land, animals and plants, and history.

Our road trip starts in Yawuru country where artists from Broome-based Aboriginal women’s art and resources centre Nagula Jarndu Designs spearhead the way with silk and linen screen prints from Amanda Rose Lea Yaminyarri (Gubiny), Cecilia Djiagween, Rowena Morgan and Martha Lee. The colours and textures invite the viewer to have fun rolling around on the grass wrapped up in the fabric, if only we could.

Neatly poised opposite is Weitj Noorook, Baby in Cradle and Ancient What (2020) by Noongar artist Lea Taylor. Showcasing emu egg, feathers, raffia, natural dyes, quandong nuts, vine, yonga bone, mungart and curly wandoo, the intricate detail of this three-piece work sparks curiosity.

Pictured is a field of magpies.
Lance Chadd’s ‘Tjyllyungoo Toolybinup’, 2012, acrylic on canvas, 80 x 90 cm.

Merge left and Lance Chadd’s Toolybinup Tjyllyungoo attracts the gaze of some Kulbardis (magpies in Noongar language) foraging amongst dry grassy ground cover. Wildflowers of clustered blues, pink and yellows invite the eye. Head in the direction of the Western Desert and you’ll find Tjarlirli Art Centre artists Esther and Nyarapayi Giles, and Joy Jackson using bedazzling wavy lines in purples, pinks and yellows to create a female gathering space around water holes.

Then take time to explore acrylic works on canvas by Papulankutka Artists, such as Ethel (Narelle) Kanpatja Holland’s Parumpi (2020), with walking tracks leading to rock holes of Mantamaru (Jameson) and Walu (north of Blackstone). Don’t stop moving and you’ll experience the hypnotic 3D effect of Angilyiya Tjapiti Mitchell and Jennifer Nginana Mitchell’s Kungkarrangkalpa (Seven Sisters)… not to be missed.

An abstract representation of Kungkarrangkalpa, Seven Sisters' by Angilyiya Tjapiti Mitchell, depctued using lines of vibrant royal blue, orange, lime green and pink, interspersed with brown.
Angilyiya Tjapiti Mitchell, ‘Kungkarrangkalpa, Seven Sisters’, 2020, acrylic on cotton canvas, 61 x 101 cm.

Take a metaphorical leap back to Midland Junction Arts Centre to see Noongar/Yamatji artist Lance Chadd’s Old Man (2012), with gouache on rag paper holding the eerie landscape of weathered trees “ghostly” strong alive. Fellow Noongar/Yamatji Artist Norma MacDonald creates great depth and texture combining handmade paper and mixed media, to dance through Quiet Place, Sunburnt Country, Gathering Seeds and Grass.

Keep on keeping on to Wiluna and you’ll find works from Tjukurba Art Gallery collection, including Caroline Long and Amanda Ingle’s intricately detailed carpet of Wildflowers, layered and blended amongst the countryside.

Travelling to Kalumburu’s Kira Kiro Kalumburu Art Centre, Roger Boona’s Fresh and Saltwater Crocodile looking for Barramundi captures the eye and mind with a personal style of painting that combines rock art and fantasy using natural ochre and pigment.

Moving to Kununurra Waringarri, Minnie Lumai’s Yab-yabbe geni-nim (2020) paints her Country using bold, beautiful balance of natural pigment colours in oblong circles on board. Following in the footprints of her grandma Peggy Griffiths, Delany Ngugunk Griffiths paints bush cucumber in Jilinybeng… but don’t eat too much. Jan Gunjaka Griffiths holds the legacy of her grandmother and connection to Woorrilbem with History Beneath the Beauty (pictured top), different colours of the lily flowers expressing calm emotions.

This exhibition is a ride full of colour – from natural ochre to acrylic – connecting people and genders to the activities of seasons, time and place. The magnetism of stories far and wide will stir your adventurous spirit and desire to see it all in the flesh but until then “Yoowalkoorl” to Midland Junction Arts Centre to see the ancient places that make up these lands being shared by the people of those lands.

“Yoowalkoorl – Come On, Come Here” continues at Midland Junction Arts Centre until 30 January, as part of Fringe World 2021.

*”Yoowalkoori – Come, Come Here” is curated by AACHWA Our Future participants Cynthia Burke (Tjanpi Desert Weavers), Patricia Corlett (Tjukuba Gallery), Lily-Mae Kerley (Yamaji Arts), Norma Lee, Carleen Ryder and Antoinette Roe (Gwoonwardu Mia, Gascoyne Aboriginal Heritage and Cultural Centre), Delilah Shepherd (Warakurna Artists and Tjanpi Desert Weavers), Ignatius Taylor (Martumili Artists) alongside Melissa McGrath (Midland Junction Arts Centre).

Pictured top: Jan Gunjaka Griffiths, ‘History Beneath the Beauty’, 2020, natural pigments on canvas, 70 x 80 cm

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Author —
Barbara Hostalek

Barbara Hostalek is an independent First Nations playwright proud to be living with Noongar Boodjar. She began writing plays at Yirra Yaakin Theatre Company’s Writers group in 2015. Her work has been produced by Yirra Yaakin Theatre Company (Cracked), Black Swan Theatre Company (Unsung Heroes monologue series: Own Way) and Mudskipper Productions (Banned). Park fun play? Hands down, the sandpit.

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