RMIT Gallery’s two distinct Indigenous art exhibitions from remote Western Australia attracted a capacity audience when they were opened by Tony Ellwood, Director of the National Gallery of Victoria.
WRITTEN TEXT: Opening night Warlayirti: The Art of Balgo and Garnkiny: Constellations of Meaning 15 September
2010 at RMIT Gallery. RMIT University logo.
SOUND: Dideridoo music
Suzanne Davies speaking: Welcome to RMIT Gallery. I'm Suzanne Davies the Director of the Gallery and it is my very
great pleasure to welcome you all here this evening.
VISUAL: Suzanne Davies speaking to an audience in the RMIT Gallery. Shot of audience applauding.
Tony Ellwood (Director of National Gallery of Victoria) speaking: Balgo, over here for those who don't know
is the ceremonial heart for several Indigenous clansfrom Western Australia's Kimberley and Western Desert.
VISUAL: Tony Ellwood speaking to an audience. Panning shot of a map showing Balgo and the surrounding regions
Tony Ellwood speaking: It's distinguished by its diverse style
VISUAL: Indigenous artist standing in front of an artwork in the gallery.
Tony Ellwood speaking: and it's particularly exuberant use of pure colour. The art from Balgo was first recognised as
a distinct body of work following the Art Gallery of Western Australia's landmark exhibition - Art from the Great
Sandy Desert which was in 1986.
VISUAL: Shots of various artworks in the exhibition on the walls of the gallery. Audience members viewing the
Tony Ellwood speaking: So you can see when we're talking about these histories, they're relatively contemporary
ones. And I congratulate, also, Jacqui Healy for her meticulous work and for visiting the community on an annual
basis for over a decade. The exhibition includes interviews with key proponents from the 1986 Exhibition along with
important research material from the Warlayirti Artists' archives
VISUAL: Various Indigenous people in conversation at the exhibition.
Tony Ellwood speaking: and the accompanying catalogue is a rich repository for this new research material.
VISUAL: Man browsing a book containing indigenous artwork
Tony Ellwood speaking: The second exhibition, Garnkiny: Constellations of Meaning
VISUAL: Audience listening to Tony speaking.
Tony Ellwood speaking: Indigenous woman standing in front of two paintings at the exhibition articulates the
intimate connection between art and storytelling of the Gija People who are renowned for their use of ochres often
sources from their own land.
VISUAL: Several shots of artworks at the exhibition
Tony Ellwood speaking: So you've got two very different distinct material qualities happening in neighbouring
VISUAL: Tony speaking and gesturing with his hands
Tony Ellwood speaking: For an international audience, it must be very interesting. The contemporary Warmun
painting movement tells the Dreaming narratives of the artists' ancestral country and this exhibition focuses on one
story which is that of the Moon Man. The Moon Man travelled across Gija country
VISUAL: Audience members listening. Various artworks displayed at the exhibition
Tony Ellwood speaking: and his actions have a profound impact on the physical and social realities of its people.
VISUAL: Shot of an indigenous elders hands
Tony Ellwood speaking: And as my friend, Rusty Peters, who's with us here tonight says this is a very big story.
VISUAL: An indigenous elder sitting in front of an artwork places his hat on his head.
Tony Ellwood speaking: The beautiful exhibition has been curated by Adam Boyd, Anna Crane and Alana Hunt and it
hints at the intricate connections between country, nature and the people who inhabit it.
VISUAL: Various artworks displayed at the exhibition. A man shakes hands with an indigenous lady.
Tony Ellwood speaking: What these two exhibitions also clearly demonstrate is the enduring legacy of heritage and
culture. It's wonderful to be able to share these exhibitions with an international community. Australian art
museums are proud of the developments we've made in the preservation and interpretation of Indigenous art
VISUAL: Tony speaking to the audience
Tony Ellwood speaking: and the real progress we've made in the way audiences are able to engage with the art and
artists through research, publishing and education programs.
VISUAL: Indigenous lady seated at the exhibition talking to another person
Tony Ellwood speaking: As the world's oldest continuous culture, Indigenous Australian Communities bring together
a rich understanding of the environment and culture practise.
VISUAL: Indigenous elder man talking to audience members in front of artworks.
Tony Ellwood speaking: As Suzanne mentioned, I had the privilege of working for two years in the east Kimberley
VISUAL: Suzanne Davies talking with an indigenous elder and another man at the exhibition.
Tony Ellwood speaking: so I saw firsthand just how much communicating through their artistic practise means. But
probably what overpowered me more than anything was just that intrinsic love for ancestral land and ultimately, all
of these paintings pay homage to that.
VISUAL: Panning shot of various artworks on the walls of the exhibition
Tony Ellwood speaking: So the two exhibitions that open tonight are both powerful expressions of our Indigenous
VISUAL: Two indigenous women seated at the exhibition.
Tony Ellwood speaking: While these are neighbouring communities, as I said, it's worth reflecting on the different
inherent material qualities.
VISUAL: Shots of various people viewing artworks at the exhibition. They're a poignant reminder that Australian
Tony Ellwood speaking: is complex, rich, diverse and vibrant so it's a great pleasure to officially declare them open.
VISUAL: Indigenous elder man talking to people at the exhibition and gesturing with hands. Tony speaking to the
SOUND: Audience applause. Didgeridoo music fades out
WRITTEN TEXT: Gordon Darling Foundation logo, Ursula Hoff Institute logo, RMIT University logo.
[End of Transcript]
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