Artist Residency at Kluge–Ruhe Aboriginal Art Collection and Exhibition at Australian Embassy Washington USA

PRESS RELEASE: Milingimbi Art and Culture Artists Residency at the Kluge-Ruhe Aboriginal Art Collection, University of Virginia and Exhibition at Australian Embassy, Washington USA, September 3 2017

Milingimbi is a small island off the remote northern coast of Australia and was the site of the second mission in Arnhem Land in the Northern Territory, founded in 1923. It quickly became a focal point for cross cultural and artistic contact and research. Community life here is underpinned by cultural practice of which art making is key. Artistic practice inhabits a prominent place in Yolngu society and is core to governance and title, to county and ceremony, unity and identity.

Milingimbi Art and Culture, one of Australia’s premier Aboriginal art and cultural organisations, is excited to announce two of its senior artists Raymond Bulumbula and Joyce Naliyabu will be travelling to The Kluge-Ruhe at the University of Virginia Aboriginal Art Collection for a three week residency 15 September – 8 October 2017.

Bulumbula is a senior Wobulkarra man whose work has been purchased by several major public and private collections in Australia.

While at the Kluge-Ruhe, Bulumbula and Naliyabu will be working on and exhibiting extensive collection of art works from the Milingimbi Art Centre and will be creating art inspired by the culture and heritage material of the remote coast of northeastern Arnhem Land. The material was collected on the Island by Edward Ruhe during a visit to the island in the 1960s. This is the first visit by Bulumbula and Naliyabu to the Kluge-Ruhe. They will also be providing insights into the meaning and significance of the works via lectures and assisting in ensuring accuracy of the cultural records in the museum’s catalogue. The Kluge-Ruhe is the only museum dedicated Aboriginal art in the USA.

Bulumbula and Naliyabu will be constructing a ceremonial object named ‘Marratjiri’. Some of the components such as hand spun feathered string will be made in workshops with students. Naliyabu will also be conducting fibre workshops on-site and with First Nations people in Washington. Milingimbi Art and Culture and the Kluge-Ruhe will also be extending an invitation to First Nations people to share knowledge and traditional techniques of making fibre objects on site at the University of Virginia.

The residency will culminate in an exhibition of new works named ‘Gapu Murnuk’ at the Australian Embassy Washington on the night of the 3rd October 2017. Attendance at the opening will be by invitation. The works will be exhibited during the months of October and November and will be open to the public.

The works will be available for sale via the Centre’s website from the night of the Exhibition opening on the 3rd October 2017.

The exhibition features contemporary works including Larrakitj (ceremonial poles), paintings on bark and paper, fibre works and carvings by Milingimbi artists Raymond Bulambula, Joyce Naliyabu, George Dangi, Judy Lirrinyin, Helen Ganalmiriwuy and Margaret Rarru.

The opening will feature renowned singer Stanley Gaykamangu and his band Gawurra. He grew up in Milingimbi and sings about life in Arnhem Land in the Gupapuyngu language.

The ‘Gapu Murnuk ‘exhibition celebrates the coming together of elements, the freshwater and the saltwater. As the gapu (water) travels it brings with it the king tide, gapu gamurray (salt water) and gapu raping (fresh water) meet and create something else, gapu murnuk. Gapu murnuk is celebrated for its wealth and abundance – ‘dharruwa ngata’ (lots of food including fish and crocodile eggs). In Yolngu ceremonies gapu murnuk often represents the interconnected relationships between Yirritja and Dhuwa (the two Yolngu moieties), husband and wife and mother and son. In Yolngu culture, every element is represented in the kinship system.

More information on the Kluge-Ruhe

Updates about the Kluge-Ruhe residency and ‘Gapu Murnuk’ exhibition will be available on the website and the Miliingimbi Art and Culture facebook page.

‘Gapu Murnuk’ opening 3 October 2017. Embassy of The Commonwealth of Australia, 1601 Massachusetts Ave NW, Washington, DC 20036, USA

The Centre extends its thanks to the Melon Foundation, Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade (Australian Government), the Kluge-Ruhe Aboriginal Art Collection University of Virginia and the Australian Embassy Washington for their generous support of this initiative.