‘Painting brings my country up closer, true, it brings it closer to me.’ – Jukuna Mona Chuguna
There are many desert words for waterhole in indigenous Australia. Every natural feature that can hold water, even if fleetingly, gets its own term. In the arid country of the Great Sandy Desert, knowledge of water’s hidden soaks and sources is revered by the Walmajarri people as a means of survival.
However, this is a dying knowledge. No longer relied upon by the new generations of former desert people raised on the cattle and sheep stations in the North, such wisdom is the preserve of the elders, who remember their exodus from the desert in the 1950s. As members of one of the last groups to encounter the Western world, older Walmajarri artists make paintings as a means of reconnecting with their country and preserving its stories, places and memory.
For its annual Songlines Season, the Rebecca Hossack Art Gallery presents a selection of paintings and prints from the Walmajarri artists. Masterworks from Jukuna Mona Chuguna (c.1933 – 2011) will be on display at the Charlotte Street gallery, whilst the Conway Street gallery will host a group exhibition, featuring works on paper and canvas by Butcher Cherel (c.1920 -2009), Jimmy Pike (1940 – 2002), Stumpy Brown (1924 – 2011), Spider Snell, Pijaju Peter Skipper (1929 – 2007), Mervyn Street and Paji Honeychild Yankarr (1912 – 1993).