Dave Hawkswood, Installation View, Fregon (Kaltjiti) Batiks, Desert Lines: Batik from Central Australia, Bendigo Art Gallery,2019.
Indigenous women’s contemporary art practice in the 1970s and 1980s went widely unacknowledged by the Australian community. This was due, in part, to the fact that Indigenous art was perceived as being within the exclusive jurisdiction of Indigenous men. Bendigo Art Gallery’s exhibition, Desert Lines: Batik from Central Australia, seeks to challenge this exact notion.
Showcasing a stunning array of batiks and paintings from five Central Desert communities—Ernabella (Pukatja), Fregon (Kaltjiti), Utopia, Yuendumu and Kintore (Walungurru)—this exhibition celebrates the early artistic achievements of Indigenous women from the vast red centre. Introduced to batik methods in 1971, the women produced a remarkable body of works that are both rich in colour and illuminating in aesthetic. Those long pieces of cloth – that burst with colour and rhythm – showcase a rich knowledge and love of Country. They reflect the many aspects of flora and fauna that inundate the land across the seasons. Warm shades of yellow, green and red are contrasted alongside bright blues, purples and pinks. The women’s experimentation with design and colour is widely evident throughout this exhibition, making it, in my opinion, a must see this spring!