Wednesday, October 12, 2016

Where the traditional and the modern meet…

An exhibition celebrating the stories and Law of Anangu culture told through intricate carvings and artefacts, Punuku Tjukurpa is the first touring exhibition of artworks from the Maruku Arts archive based at Mutitjulu, near Uluru in the Northern Territory.

Established in 1984, Maraku Arts is the trading arm of Anangu Uwankaraku Punu Aboriginal Corporation, which translates literally as ‘wood belonging to all Aboriginal people’.

Hosted by Cowra Regional Art Gallery and presented by Artback NT, Punuku Tjukurpa is an exhibition showcasing a rich, sacred history and deserves national attention.

As explained by Louise Partos, Executive Officer of Artback NT – “Punuku Tjukurpa offers a privileged insight into one of Australia’s finest art movements and is an exhibition of national significance. PunuĀ (carved objects made of wood) is a significant and prolific art form in Central Australia and its production and display are integral to the maintenance of culture and to the sharing of knowledge”.

The exhibition includes eighty-eight punu works made by three generations of artists featuring burned designs on carved wooden forms including piti (wooden bowls), miru (spear throwers), tjara (shields), kulata (spears) and beautiful carvings of desert birds and animals.

While not as well known as painting from the region, punu is a significant and prolific art-form in central Australia and its production and display is integral to the maintenance of culture and to the sharing of knowledge.

Through this exhibition the profile of Aboriginal artists working with wood, both past and present, will be lifted as they have often been overlooked by a painting focused art world. Work included is both secular and sacred, and illustrates innovation through changes in working styles a well as the types of objects created. The exhibition also features some of the most magnificent pieces and ephemeral material from the early days of Maruku Arts.

The exhibition is an acknowledgment of the sharing of culture – of that which is secular and that which can be sacred. It is a celebration of innovation in wood carving, including many forms of punu. It represents an extraordinary opportunity to view the historical and contemporary trajectory of one of Australia’s finest art movements, providing the viewer with a pathway into culture rarely seen.

The official exhibition opening is on Saturday 15 October commencing at 2pm with a Smoking Ceremony and Welcome to Country. Guest speaker is Steve Fox, Curator of Punuku Tjukurpa, former PUNU MAN and Director of Maruku Arts, plus visiting artists in the exhibition from Maruku Arts NT. SA special public program including an illustrated talk by guest speaker Steve Fox and demonstrations with artists in the exhibition including carving and burning using both contemporary and traditional tools will take place at the Gallery on Sunday 16 October from 2pm. All welcome, admission is free.

The exhibition continues at the Cowra Regional Art Gallery to 20 November 2016. Gallery hours are Tuesday to Saturday 10am to 4pm and Sunday 2pm to 4pm. For more information phone 63402190.