The Next Generation exhibition opening at Lauraine Diggins Fine Art
In August-September this year, Lauraine Diggins Fine Art was pleased to present a joint exhibition focussing on The Next Generation of young indigenous artists with painting by Genevieve Kemarr Loy, granddaughter of Nancy Petyarr and Lorraine Kabbindi White, granddaughter of Bardayal Lofty Nadjamerrek. Both these women have grown up surrounded by the artistic practice and legacy of the famous forebears and made the conscious decision to become artists themselves. In doing so they fulfil a keen sense of responsibility to ensure the continuation of their cultural heritage. Their art is contemporary yet steeped in history with an intrinsic emotional, custodial and spiritual connection to the land.
The narrative stimulus for Genevieve’s work is linked to the stories associated with the flora and fauna of her grandmother’s country and that of her father, Cowboy Loy Pwerl’s country in Utopia, north east of Alice Springs. Whilst her father, custodian of the Bush Turkey (Arwengerrp) story has taught her this particular narrative, Genevieve has made it her own through her harmonious and inspired colour palette and her fine detailed mark-making across the canvas, especially impressive on the large-scale she prefers to work on.
Lorraine is based in Melbourne, although regularly visits her grandfather’s country Mankung Djang in West Arnhem Land. It is from here that she sources the bark she paints on – a physical connection to place as well. Absorbing the myriad of information she has accrued from watching and listening and assisting her elders, she creates her own works, on paper and bark, using a similarly careful and detailed painted linework as her grandfather. The use of white against red ochre or black provides a contrast that allows her close parallel lines to really shimmer. Her work depicts the plants, animals and spirit beings of her grandfather’s country.
The exhibition was opened by Aunty Joy Murphy AO, elder of the Wurundjeri people, and Nova Peris OAM, former Senator and Olympian. Aunty Joy spoke of the privilege it must have been for both Genevieve and Lorraine to have been taught by their grandparents, remarking on the strength of family, country and culture…. counselling Lorraine that “if you can keep that connection to country, and going home, choosing your bark, well that’s what a continuing legacy is all about” and comparing Genevieve with the most celebrated of Utopia artists, Emily Kam Kngwarray, “She, like you, Genevieve, was rather shy, you know all her beautiful work and all that she achieved – you have got an amazing family history and I’m sure we’ll see much, much more of you in years to come.” Nova Peris gave an engaging and personal speech which reinforced the sentiment of connection and legacy. She also stressed the importance of identity and pride and of the responsibility of sustaining culture, encouraging everyone “to understand the significance of what these pieces of art mean, thousands and thousands of years of stories have been passed down.”
Lauraine Diggins Fine Art looks forward to continuing to highlight future work of both Lorraine and Genevieve. A video of the opening is available to view on our website www.diggins.com.au along with a video of both Genevieve and Lorraine talking about their painting.
In March 2019, Lauraine Diggins Fine Art will hold an exhibition of Xiaoping Zhou which will explore the cross-cultural aspects of this intriguing artist. Born and classically art-trained in China, Zhou moved to Australia in 1988 and travelled extensively in Arnhem Land and the Kimberley. His intense interest in the artistic practice of these areas, along with the connections and friendships he made, had a profound influence on the direction of his own art, and led to a series of collaborative artworks between himself and the late Jimmy Pike resulting in the first exhibition of Aboriginal artwork in China in 1996 and at the National Gallery of china in 1999. In 2011, a series of works with Johnny Bulunbulun were the focus of the exhibition Trepang, China & the story of Macassan-Aboriginal Trade which showed in Beijing, the Melbourne Museum and the Australian Embassy in Paris. His current work continues to build on his unique style, retaining strong links to all he has learnt and absorbed, with his use of symbols having clear parallels to indigenous art where symbols contain a wealth of information and power.