Home­com­ing for Dowl­ing’s Big Se­cret

Geraldton Guardian - - News - Francesca Mann

Ger­ald­ton Re­gional Art Gallery was buzzing on Fri­day night for the open­ing of two ex­hi­bi­tions.

A new ex­hi­bi­tion from Ya­maji woman Julie Dowl­ing was launched by her twin sis­ter, Carol, and cu­ra­tor Char­maine Green, along­side an in­ter­ac­tive ex­hi­bi­tion, Peo­ple Like Us.

Dowl­ing’s ex­hi­bi­tion, Yagu Gurl­barl (Big Se­cret), fea­tures por­traits of her fam­ily and friends, sur­rounded by glit­ter, nail art and rhine­stones. Her work ex­plores the theme of slav­ery for First Nation peo­ple in Aus­tralia, high­light­ing the mod­ern form in pieces such as Cousin Peter.

Yagu Gurl­barl is her first solo show on Ya­maji coun­try.

Carol Dowl­ing said it was an hon­our to open the ex­hi­bi­tion.

“Th­ese are sto­ries of hu­mour, re­silience, strength, rage and courage,” she said. “We’re both proud Badi­maya peo­ple. We lived in the city, but were brought up with sto­ries of coun­try.

“It’s very dear to us that this ex­hi­bi­tion is on our coun­try, Ya­maji coun­try. It’s a home­com­ing.”

Ms Green said she ap­proached Dowl­ing about an ex­hi­bi­tion on coun­try when they worked to­gether in 2015.

“She had four months to pro­duce the show you see,” Ms Green said. “The themes of slav­ery and stolen wages are things peo­ple don’t like to talk about.

“You re­ally need to read the sto­ries to see why it’s called Big Se­cret.”

In the up­stairs gallery space an in­ter­ac­tive ex­hi­bi­tion us­ing tech­nolo­gies such as vir­tual re­al­ity was also opened.

Peo­ple Like Us, cu­rated by Univer­sity of New South Wales gal­leries direc­tor Felic­ity Fen­ner, ex­plores is­sues im­pact­ing so­ci­ety through film, an­i­ma­tion, dig­i­tal and in­ter­ac­tive art.

The ex­hi­bi­tion fea­tures a di­verse col­lec­tion of in­stal­la­tions from Aus­tralian and in­ter­na­tional artists.

Peo­ple Like Us was com­mis­sioned by Na­tional Ex­hi­bi­tions Tour­ing Sup­port Aus­tralia and was of­fi­cially opened by City of Greater Ger­ald­ton coun­cil­lor Si­mon Keemink.

Dur­ing the night, Mem­ber for Ger­ald­ton Ian Blayney an­nounced the win­ner of the Mid West Art Prize Peo­ple’s Choice Award, Yallingup artist Mia Laing, for her piece called Elec­tric Blue.

Yagu Gurl­barl (Big Se­cret) and Peo­ple Like Us will be on dis­play un­til Septem­ber 30.

Pic­tures: Francesca Mann

Bren­dan Pen­zer and Deb­o­rah Cain at the launch of Yagu Gurl­barl and Peo­ple Like Us.

Lily-Mae Ker­ley, 16, and Domo Coun­cil­lor, 17, with Julie Dowl­ing's art­work, Granny Mary.

Is­abella Jones tries out John McGhee's In­side — Topolo­gies of Stroke.

A pa­tron im­mersed in the sounds and sights of the launch.

Sa­man­tha and Lynn-anne Bentink.

Judy Rose and He­len Sump­ton.

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