Harbinger Consultants

Culture + Complexity + Change

SPEAK | ‘Dulka’ opening at Woolloongabba Art Gallery

Last night, in his role as Mirndiyan Gununa Art Centre Manager on Mornington Island, John opened Amanda Gabori’s exhibition, Dulka, at Woolloongabba Art Gallery. A few people mentioned their appreciation of John’s speech, so we are publishing it here. Dulka continues until 29 September 2018, with a closing event on the 29th from 3pm – 6pm.

John_WAG opening

I wish to pay my respects to the traditional custodians of this land on which we meet and I acknowledge the Elders of our communities – the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Elders and the non-indigenous Elders who share their wisdom with us all in such a generous way. And I bring greetings from the artists working on Mornington Island. And apologies from Amanda who has Sorry Business after the death of one of her elder sisters.

This exhibition by Amanda presents us with glimpses into other worlds where colours hover and merge, where spaces contain hints of complex richness and shape is given to thoughts and feelings that are sometimes impossible to talk about.

Amanda lives on Mornington Island – in “the big orange house” at the bottom end of Gununa village. But she paints about her Country, her Mother’s Country, her Father’s Country on Bentinck Island and she paints about the reality of homesickness – it’s more than a desire for what once was – it’s a powerful force that can evoke dizziness or nausea, stir up periods of loneliness and depression, it can provoke a smile, it can result in tears, and it can kick up memories. It’s at the core of the marvellous paintings by Amanda and her sisters, Aunties and Cousins.

Even the subtlest reminders of home can induce an acute moment of homesickness. Triggered by a smell, a taste, a sound, sensory memories spark cravings for sensations intimately tied to what is home; the scent of a flower, security, freedom, or a scratchy wool blanket, the taste of a fruit, the ocean, a tree, the lined face of an old man, the sound of rain, a song, a colour or laughter.

And yet, while the yearning for another place, another time, could be paralysing, it can also be a driving force for creating something new using traces of what is remembered from before and what is talked about by family.

Viewing these works of Amanda’s can give us an impression of what lies beyond the canvas because she is working with the appearance of things, not their objective correctness, and in doing so creating new appearances of things and I suspect that’s what really good art is all about.

Amanda takes memories and gives them form – she takes massive events and subtleties and gives them shape and colour and she takes sometimes painful experiences and ideas and both lived and intuitive understandings and gives them power and presence.

I think some of the artists working in the studio on Mornington Island are probably rescuing wandering memories and giving them a context – a new place to be that allows us, as viewers, to experience them and to use them to construct our own rememberings.

Most of these artworks deal with the stuff of lived experience and, if such a thing exists – lived thought – things that are carried as the relics of thoughts past – the stuff of history – big history and tiny history – highly charged personal and individual and human scaled history.

These works are celebrations of resilience and connection to Country – as Amanda says:

“I paint because I love it and I love My Country. It’s a very special place with lots of good and not so good memories”

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