Ngurra Kutu (Going Home) pays tribute to Pintupi artist Turkey Tolson Tjupurrula, who passed away in August 2001. Tjupurrula was one of the original group of 'painting men' and former chairman of Papunya Tula Artists Ltd. Ngurra Kutu (Going Home) refers to the importance of homelands; those special places central to a person's identity. In the late 1970s and early 1980s, the Pintupi people returned to their country in the western desert inspiring a resurgence in Papunya Tula painting. Many of the paintings in this exhibition refer to the artists ancestral place of conception or birth to which their spirit will return.
Ngurra Kutu (Going Home) reveals the potency of Indigenous artist’s visual responses to country, commencing with the earliest painting in the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander collection - Wonggu Munungurr's bark painting Fishing Scene c.1930s. Groote Eylandt bark paintings collected by the American-Australian Scientific Expedition to Arnhem Land in 1948, and others from that era, reveal significant features of the artists' lifestyle, knowledge and beliefs while a series of bark paintings by Mungurrawuy Yunupingu map out the ancestral fire story that travelled across a huge swathe of eastern Arnhem Land. Recent bark paintings by John Mawurndjul demonstrate how the western Arnhem Land bark painting has evolved into a dynamic contemporary expression.
The selection of series of works by one artist or groups of artists in this exhibition demonstrates the incredible diversity of Indigenous art practice and illuminates discrete regional practices. Evidence of cultural continuity and maintenance is revealed in works such as the Yuendumu Doors prints. In this suite of thirty etchings, the kuruwarri or designs from the original school doors (now in the collection of the South Australian Museum) were transferred to the printmaking medium by the two remaining artists, Paddy Japaljarri Sims and Paddy Japaljarri Stewart, from the original group that painted the doors.
The Yiribana Gallery is sponsored by