Big Weather is a timely exhibition that recognises the sophisticated appreciation of weather systems that exists within Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander cultural knowledge. Bringing together a significant selection of works drawn from the NGV Indigenous Collection, Big Weather shares stories of creation to illustrate how landscapes were formed and sacred waterways are refreshed and refilled.
The exhibition features momentous works including Thunderman raining down by Yolngu artist Nonggirrnga Marawilli and Rockholes and Country near Kata Tjuta by Pitjantjatjarra artist Bill Whiskey alongside works that explore the impact of big weather on Country with a new commission by Yorta Yorta artist, Treahna Hamm, which tells the story of the recent destructive bushfires and a series of photographs showing the flooding of Barkindji Country by Nici Cumpston.
Big Weather includes exceptional examples of weaving by Ngarrindjeri master weaver, Yvonne Koolmatrie, and a new series of woven shields by Yorta Yorta/Taungurung artist Donna Blackall. Blackall’s shields represent both the elemental aspects of nature and the language groups of the Kulin Nations. Big Weather also includes an outstanding new acquisition from the iconic photographic series by Michael Riley, titled Untitled from the series cloud (cow), 2000 which is accompanied by a number of works that discuss important relationships with animals including a fierce looking echidna by Lena Yarinkura and Dhanalgaw thamai (Cultural shift), depicting the magnificent dugong by Badhulga/Maluyigal artist Laurie Nona who is based on Badu Island in the Torres Strait.
The exhibition showcases works by artists from diverse Indigenous communities with many presenting unique interpretations of ancestral spirit beings who summon the rain, hail and seasonal storms that feed into our rivers, revive the landscape and nourish wildlife. By acknowledging weather systems as indicators of change across different landscapes, we are able to look further at the idea of change across many facets of our lives, how change affects us, how we adapt and how knowledge of the past can inform our shared future.
Art is an important instrument for the exchange of cultural information, by documenting stories and monitoring specific environments, we learn about the cyclical nature of the Australian landscape. Through creative expression, we can discuss the delicate balance of our living and breathing planet and the consequences of fires and storms as well as the ever-present dread of climate change.
Weather systems are a key way of understanding entire ecologies, based on the intimate cultural knowledge passed down by Ancestors and continued through relationships with Country that have been refined over generations. This foundational understanding of our diverse ecosystems is imperative for our future survival. Big Weather tells an important story through a diverse offering of work that reflects the wide-ranging nature of contemporary Indigenous art as represented in the NGV Indigenous Collection.