Reviews/Visual Art

Road tripping and mapping Country and culture

26 August 2021

‘Ngardamarri’ – the latest exhibition at FORM’s Goods Shed – is a journey through the artistic and cultural heritage of Ieramugadu (Roebourne) that’s vibrant, varied and not to be missed, says Jaimi Wright.

‘Ngardamarri’, Various artists ·
The Goods Shed, FORM ·

The Goods Shed in Claremont has become a road trip to Country in FORM’s latest exhibition “Ngardamarri”, an exploration of the distinct and diverse First Nations artistic identities of Ieramugadu (Roebourne) in the Pilbara.

Born from cooperation between FORM and First Nations Pilbara communities and curated by Annie McLoughlin, “Ngardamarri” maps the artistry and cultural heritage of 15 artists across three art centres in Ieramugadu; Cheeditha Art Group, Yinjaa–Barni Art and Juluwarlu Art Group. The term ngardamarri means “side-by-side” in Yindjibarndi, the foremost language of the Pilbara. Side by side, each of these artists, as part of their respective groups, provides a multifaceted and engaging representation of what Country means to them.

As a repurposed and reimagined railway building, originally constructed in 1887, the architectural bare bones of The Goods Shed are well suited to exhibits of cultural heritage. The building’s raw and rustic charms allow this exhibition’s artworks – predominantly worked in acrylic – to speak for themselves.

Close to the gallery’s entrance is the striking piece High Tide (2021, pictured top) by Wendy Warrie of the Cheeditha Art Group. A Yindjibarndi and Kariyarra woman from the Cheeditha community, Warrie’s works – especially High Tide – have an intricate, deep and hypnotic quality to them, transporting the viewer to the natural beauty of Cheeditha country. The swirling patterns and gradated blues of High Tide consume your attention and serve as an affecting reminder to the secrets of the deep.

‘Tip of the Burrup’ by Wendy Hubert, acrylic on canvas, 86 x 60 cm

Allery Sandy and Aileen Sandy – Yindjibarndi women of Yinjaa–Barni Art – each have radically different approaches to depictions of Country. Aileen’s works, which are reflections of the Millstream Table Lands and the Fortescue River, appear startlingly modern and almost psychedelic. Colours Through the Rocks (2021), in particular, resembles the vibrant typography of natural landscapes. By contrast, Allery’s pieces have a softer and more textural approach. As aerial perspectives, After the Rain (2021) and Hidden Creek (2021) have an intense and mossy lushness to them that connect your senses to the Ieramugadu waterways.

The women of Juluwarlu have created some truly singular, engaging artworks, both as pure studies of shape and colour, but also as depictions of their ancestral homeland. Through her works Narda – Marda Ngurra (2020) and Tip of the Burrup (2020) Wendy Hubert has conjured fiery and intense landscapes of childhood memories and sites important to Yindjibarndi and Guruma Country. Meanwhile, Alex Guiness’s Burndud Ground series, which depicts a cycle of songs as part of their Birdarra Law ceremonies, has an elegant and intriguing contemporary simplicity.

Last but certainly not least, is the youngest and only independent artist in the exhibition. Chenise Cameron is a burgeoning photographer from the Pilbara town of Wickham. Having worked with creative initiatives such as Big hART and FORM, she has exhibited at the Fremantle Arts Centre and in the town of Cossack, WA. Her photographic prints set against light boxes bring to life the joyful connection between country and youth. Lost and Found (2020) in particular, as a self-portrait captured in a rearview mirror, is heartwarmingly candid.

As part of FORM’s initiative Pilbara Survey, “Ngardmarri” achieves a varied, vibrant and distinctive look into the Pilbara’s First Nations artistic communities and their connection to Country. Grab a coffee at The Goods Shed on your way through, and be sure to catch this one while you can.

“Ngardmarri” continues at The Goods Shed until 26 September 2021.

Pictured top is ‘High Tide’ by Wendy Warrie, acrylic on canvas, 200 x 200 cm.

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Author —
Jaimi Wright

Jaimi Wright is your friendly neighbourhood art historian. She has just completed a Bachelor of Arts (Hons) at UWA and dabbles in curating, local arts writing, and 19th century French history. Her favourite piece of play equipment is the roundabout even though her stomach should know better.

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