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New indigenous artwork acquisition for SAM

The Shepparton Art Museum has added another significant work to its Collection, with the assistance of Carrillo and Ziyin Gantner, in recognition of the sporting and cultural legacies in the Goulburn Murray.

The Brothers is the fourth painting by the artist, Julie Dowling to join the SAM Collection and continues the relatable themes and stories of family, identity, Country and the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander communities. This work forms a part of the larger gift of Carrillo and Ziyin Gantner’s collection of predominantly Aboriginal and Torres Strait islander art to Shepparton Art Museum.

The Brothers, 2002 depicts three men dressed in the club’s football uniform either during or after a game. Two men are arm-in-arm with the football safely tucked under one of the brother’s arms, while behind them stands their team-mate. Meticulously rendered traditional symbols expand across the surface of the green footy oval and blue Australian sky, referencing representations of place, cultural symbols and Indigenous identity. 

Dowling’s portraits often feature members from her own family, occasionally herself, and the familiar faces of iconic Australian figures. Her works have specific references and universal connections; they convey many stories, concerns or insights, told through the compelling eyes of her subjects.

Australian Rules Football was embraced by Aboriginal communities throughout Australia, creating sporting legacies and legends across the country. In our region of country Victoria this was also true. Local premiership winning sides emerged from families living at Cummeragunja (1890’s–1930’s), the All Blacks of Daish’s paddock (1946), and more recently at Shepparton’s Rumbalara Football Netball Club.

Belinda Briggs, SAM Community Engagement – Indigenous, and an active member of the Rumbalara Football Netball Club notes, “Sport, and playing as part of a team, enabled players to acquire a level of independence and freedom off the missions in a time where permission had to be sought by the manager. Bonds are made in the inner sanctum of teams and can offer a place of respite, belonging and affirmation of identity. Today these clubs are an important tool as ever, to foster culture, nurture families, and promote wellbeing.”

The other Julie Dowling works in the SAM Collection are:

Inside Out, 1999 (donated by Carrillo and Ziyin Gantner, 2017)

Woman Head, 2002 (donated through the Australian Government’s Cultural Gifts Program by Carrillo Gantner, AC, 2017)

The Brothers, 2004 (donated through the Australian Government’s Cultural Gifts Program by Carrillo and Ziyin Gantner, 2013)

About the Artist

Julie Dowling was born in Subiaco and is of the Badimaya People in the Mid-West of Western Australia. Largely working in painting, she draws on diverse art traditions including European portraiture, Christian Orthodox icons, mural painting and Badimaya First Nation iconography, or signs and symbols.

Dowling works like an ethnographer, recording the deep-seated injustices in the Indigenous community. Her pictorial works have a strong political edge, however, because she speaks as a colonised subject and subverts the traditional power relations between the observer and the observed, the coloniser and the colonised. She was awarded a Diploma of Fine Art at Claremont School of Art in 1989, a Bachelor of Fine Arts at Curtin University in 1992 and an Associate Diploma in Visual Arts Management at Perth Metropolitan TAFE in 1995.

Since her first solo exhibition at Fremantle Arts Centre in 1995, Dowling has earned a substantial national and international reputation as an artist of extraordinary vision. Her work has been exhibited extensively in Australia and overseas, notably at Art Fair Cologne in 1997, Beyond the Pale: Contemporary Indigenous Art, 2000 Adelaide Biennial of Australian Art, and the RAKA AWARD: Places that name us, The Potter Museum of Art, Melbourne, 2003.

Image: Julie Dowling, Community / Language Group: Badimaya, The Brothers, 2002, synthetic polymer paint on canvas, 121 x 91 cm, © the artist

Purchased with the assistance of Carrillo and Ziyin Gantner, 2018, in recognition of the sporting and cultural legacies in the Goulburn Murray. We acknowledge and celebrate early sporting teams, the Cummeragunja Invincibles and the All Blacks of Daish’s Paddock and more recently Rumbalara Football Netball Club. © the artist

New Drawing Wall highlights topical river issues

The thirty-fifth Shepparton Art Museum Drawing Wall features artist Alex Pittendrigh with a work called Près des Eaux: Tears of Isis, a large abstract painting referencing water and river systems.

It ties together the artist’s interest in environment, but also his long-held passion for ancient cultures. This work specifically references symbolic and sacred readings of water in Egyptian tomb paintings. In a contemporary context, it references issues faced by river systems in Australia such as the recent catastrophic ‘kill’ events within Australian rivers such as at the Murray Darling basin /Menindee.

 “The title is in part taken from an ongoing series of paintings of my own that are themselves riffing off an eponymously titled series of watercolours by Gustave Moreau at his house Museum in Paris, which were abstractions meditating on mythological subjects that appeared to the artist whilst in a liminal, sleep-like state,” said Mr Pittendrigh.

“At a symbolic level, water symbolises rebirth and new life after the destruction wrought by flood.”

The Drawing Wall zig zag pattern expands over approximately 10×2 m across the wall’s surface. The work has been painted with pencil and non-toxic acrylic and watercolour paints.

“On occasion the viewer will be confronted by irregularities or fractures in the overall geometric design, suggesting that the waters life giving flow has been disrupted or perhaps polluted by a lack of care for what has given life and a failure to heed the wisdom of those who cared for it long before,” he said.

About the Artist

Alex Pittendrigh was born in 1966 in Melbourne and lives and works in Melbourne and Tanja, NSW.

Working chiefly in painting, sculpture and installation, he maintains a strong interest in classical antiquity and how its long echo might usefully intersect with the present day and how it continues to resonate with contemporary culture’s anxieties and discontents.

He has undertaken residencies at The British School at Rome, Italy; The Cite Internationale des Arts, Paris; Gertrude Contemporary Art Spaces, Melbourne, and has participated in group shows such as “Uncanny Nature” at The Australian centre for Contemporary Art (ACCA), ”Lurid Beauty” at The National Gallery of Victoria, “Wilderness” at The Art Gallery of NSW, and others including Gertrude Contemporary Art Spaces, Contemporary Art Tasmania, Hobart and Devonport Regional Gallery, and Two rooms, Auckland.

He was a founding member of the Artist run initiative First Floor in Melbourne, and has also exhibited at other ARIs such as Caves, Melbourne; Stereo Exchange, Copenhagen; and Dunedin.

New SAM Showcase focuses on Indigenous art

The 22nd Showcase at the Shepparton Art Museum features Indigenous art from the Baluk Arts group and includes natural materials such as feathers and clay.

The exhibition is called ‘earth bound, in flight: ceramic artists of Baluk Arts’ and will be in the Showcase at SAM from 9 May to 7 August in collaboration with Craft.

Baluk Arts is a 100 per cent Aboriginal owned and operated non-profit Victorian Aboriginal arts organisation based in Mornington. Baluk (also spelt balluk or balug) is a Boonwurrung word meaning group of people.

earth bound, in flight is a record of making at Baluk, punctuating the importance of collaboration and shared understanding of culture and community. Artists here represent the beginnings of artistic practice and the achievements that come from many years of concentrated learning.

It features work by Lisa Waup, Cassie Leatham, Beverley Meldrum and Tallara Gray and feathers by Robert Kelly, Patsy Smith, Yvonne Luke, Lynnette Pitt, Robert Austin Djeranarlumn, Nick Kupetsky, Daniel Kelly, Sharee Harper, and Mai Katona.

The exhibition is free to view and works are available for purchase.

The Baluk Arts Showcase is  part of curated program of exhibitions in partnership with Craft for SAM.

Image: Lisa Waup, Keeping Culture (5 of 7), 2019, Porcelain, Emu Feathers, Parrot Feathers, Cotton, Hand Forged Copper Railway Wire, Silver Solder, 21 x 10 x 10cm. Photo: Amina Barolli Photography