Exhibition pairing steeped in country
The stylistic diversity evident in the work of the Yindjibarndi artists from around the Pilbara’s Millstream Tablelands is as striking as the range of colours deployed.
It’s been a few years since I was last at the Yinjaa-Barni (Yindjibarndi for “staying together”) Art Centre, which used to operate out of a shed behind the Pilbara Aboriginal Church in Roebourne before moving into the heritage-listed Dalgety House on the town’s main road, Roe Street.
It was then I first encountered Yindjibarndi elder and artist Clifton Mack, working in a separate studio from women artists such as Aileen Sandy, Maudie Jerrold and Marlene Harold.
So it was with some delight I discovered Fremantle’s Japingka Gallery is hosting Pilbara Country, an exhibition of works by Yinjaa-Barni artists, concurrently with Rivers of the Desert, an exhibition featuring the paintings of Central Desert artist, Anna Petyarre.
Aileen Sandy started painting in 2007.
“My parents had moved into town from Mt Florence Station in their ancestral country in the Tablelands, but they still worked at the station seasonally and we would go back there for school holidays sometimes,” she says. Marlene Harold was born on Mt Florence Station in the Millstream Tablelands and started painting in 2006 at Yinjaa-Barni Art.
According to Japingka Gallery’s supporting literature, one of her chief subjects is the creation story according to Yindjibarndi law, called Ngurru Nyujunnggama — When the World Was Soft.
Clifton Mack doesn’t shy away from exploring contemporary techniques within a traditional context.
Both exhibitions continue until June 30.
To view the works online, visit japingkaaboriginalart.com.
Artist Aileen Sandy with her sister Ellery Sandy and Clifton Mack.