There’s so much amazing Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander art in this building.
Sure, they have the first European perspectives on the Australian landscape, plus a big international exhibition of nudes from famous artists, but that’s not what we’re about at the minute.
Two teams of students converged to see the gallery’s latest exhibition being installed, as well as hear from Assistant Curator Coby Edgar and Education Programmer Amanda Peacock about what it’s like to shape the way people experience art.
The new exhibition is built around the themes of land rights and race relations, showcasing artworks that use a range of techniques to present a perspective or argument.
Some rely on humour, depicting police as literal pigs spying on native animals through binoculars as those animals drink endless beers and smoke endless bongs, or presenting botanist Joseph Banks as “Sir No Beard” the pirate who stole from the locals (complete with a self-portrait of the artist as disembodied head).
Other artworks combine traditional techniques with modern messages of devastation, invasion and dispossession. The impact of the room is already so, so strong – and not all of the pieces are up on the walls yet.
We also had the opportunity to check out more established works, such as Emily Kam Kngwarray’s Untitled and the range of figurative and non-figurative pieces from the same community – Yirrkala – over the course of decades.
Kane from Townsville asked A•STAR if we like art (we do), then offered his perspective: “It gets you thinking, to see what the artist was seeing.” Which is probably the perfect summary of the artist’s ambition in one sentence. (Kane also had some strong opinions on Apple versus Samsung, if you’re interested in a lively debate.)
Another popular piece is Lin Onus’ Fruit Bats. Lani said, “It looks really aesthetic. I was drawn in by the colour combinations.” Another student (whose name A•STAR sadly didn’t get, because we’re bad journalists) interpreted the bats as protectors of their tribe.
Which, as Amanda said, is what is so amazing about art. We can all have a perspective.