Talking up Aspects of Aboriginality

Story by Jack Foley

MANINGRIDA, Australia, is a hub of artistic activity, representing at least nine different language groups. On a per capita basis, it is one of the most linguistically and culturally diverse regions in the world, which is reflected in the art work of the region.

In a bid to showcase some of this work, the Rebecca Hossack Gallery in London is hosting Mother Tongue - Aspects of Aboriginality, an exhibition which blends the photographic work of Gerald Jenkins, the official photographer for the Aboriginal involvement in the Sydney Olympic Games, with a collection of Maningrida Bark Paintings and sculpture, as well as some of the finest Yirdaki (didjeridus) from Arnhem Land’s North Eastern region.

The bark paintings on show are done in distinct eastern and western styles, while the sculpture from the region includes Mimih Spirits (tricksters living in the Stone Country) and Lorrkkon (hollow log coffins).

In 1988, Maningrida and Ramingining artists collaborated to create the Aboriginal Memorial, an installation of 200 of these coffins as a memorial to all Aboriginal people who have lost their lives defending their land since 1788. It is now housed at the Australian National Gallery in Canberra.

The Yirdaki (didjeridu) is endemic to the Arnhem Land region and is as varied in style as the Bark Painting from the same area.

The Mother Tongue exhibition will focus on the longer Yirdaki, from the Galpu Clan of North East Arnhem Land, as these magnificent instruments have been carefully selected before being finely tuned and decorated in secret/sacred clan designs.

The exhibition runs from August 8 until September 7 and looks set to be one of the capital’s hidden treasures for anyone with a passion for all things Australian, or those seeking to broaden their artistic horizons on a global scale.

RHG, 35 Windmill Street, London W1T 2JS. Tel: 0207-436 4899
Opening hours: Monday - Saturday, 10am - 6pm

The Charlotte Street Gallery, 28 Charlotte Street, London, W1T 2NA
Tel: 020 7255 2828 Fax: 020 7580 2828

Click here for the Rebecca Hossack website...

Main picture shows an example of a Maningrida Bark Painting, while on the right are a collection of Yirdaki (didjeridus).

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