Sea Change, Tree Change, Changing Together
Sally Gabori, Judy Holding, Ginger Riley, Nonggirrnga Marawili, Delvene Cockatoo-Collins, Caleb Hall, Guykuda Mununggurr, Idris Murphy, Artists from Pormpuraaw, Jasmine Targett, Delissa Walker.
For more than 30 years I have been fortunate to travel to idyllic and remote locations at the invitation of many artists including First Nation artists. From my very first trip to the Central Desert, there has been the effort to learn about and understand the land, fire and protecting the water source; and similarly in Arnhem Land, understanding the importance of the sea, the impact of that many seasons of the year had on life and country, past and present, is a continuous journey. The school of learning about ‘country’ in the Aboriginal way has been a driving force in my life.
The late, great Ginger Riley in Arnhem Land taught me about respect for his country, especially his totemic animals and birds and even talking to crocodiles in the Limmen Bight River.
It is still hard for me to fathom that Sally Gabori lived a life untouched by non-Indigenous people on tiny Bentinck Island (a stone’s throw from Ginger Riley in the Gulf of Carpentaria – as the sea eagle flies across the Gulf) until the year I was born when a climatic catastrophe made it impossible for the Kaiadilt people to continue living there due to the devastation of the fresh water source.
Both artists painted from memory or the mind’s eye images. What you see today in their paintings in this exhibition is how country was not possibly how it is now or will be in the very near future. Riley his Marra Dreamtime view of country and Gabori her unique non derivative view of sea and land of her birth on Bentinck Island.
Sea Change Tree Change Changing Together is a play on the senior generation often changing lifestyles by moving to the sea or country, however we are now addressing the realisation that this privilege may not be available to their grandchildren and subsequent generations due to climate change, pollution and extinguished sea and land life. We understand Venice may be lost to tourists (and artists) in 80 years due to rise in sea level and pollution but the rubbish especially plastic in our own water sources, killing sea life combined with rising temperatures is having a devastating effect.
– Beverley Knight, Alcaston Gallery Director