It is not often an art exhibition stops you in your tracks, but strolling into Turner Galleries the other day, I was nearly bowled over.
The Legends and Lore: Land and Sea exhibition currently showing at the Northbridge space is an Aboriginal art tour de force.
The pieces from Artitja Fine Arts are on display in the two Engine Room galleries at Turner, and both are mesmerizing for different reasons.
For pure collective uniformity of tone, form, pattern and technique, the pieces from the Biuku-Larrnggay Mulka art centre at Yirrkala, Arnhem Land, take the prize.
The works in earth pigments are on bark and larrakitj, or memorial poles, by established and emerging artists working at the centre.
The natural media and materials create a symphony of songlines and legend, telling of the seasons, land, people and flora and fauna.
Most are executed in soft, muted white, cream, gray, green, pink, brown and ochre, and feature complex symmetrical repetitive linear, curved and cross hatching motifs.
When viewed together they are gloriously harmonious and show off the distinctive style and tonal method of artworks from region.
The centre has become a powerhouse of internationally recognized artists whose Yolngu (language) stems from their deep connection to the land and sea.
Across the corridor in the other Engine Room, there is a fantasia of colour, design, weaving and sculpture, a vibrant counterpoint to the subtle Arnhem Land tones and hues.
These are the paintings of eastern desert flora themes by Selina Teece Pwerl and Bernadine Johnston Kemarre, accompanied by the exquisite woven works of Noongar bush sculptor Janine McAullay Bott.
The blend of charming, lively paintings and sculpture fashioned from native plant materials are a delight.
Gum blossoms frame a marvellous nut, stick, leaf and reed frilled-neck lizard; a colourful landscape is the backdrop for a funky woven snail; two dragonflies of leaf and twig alight on a plinth.
The room is uplifting and the joy of artistic expression shines from the walls and from the playful bush creations.
I must have moved between the two rooms 10 times, fascinated by the juxtaposition of aesthetics, both in natural and synthetic mediums, each equally alluring.
All the pieces have powerful anthropological and ethno biological meaning, each telling its own tale from different corners of Australia.
The Yirrkala community is situated 4560 kms north east of Perth, and was represented at the opening of the exhibition by local men Ishmael Marika and Curtis Taylor.
Ishmael launched the show with a traditional song accompanied with clapping sticks.
While not painters themselves, both men are digital artists and filmmakers, so the creative spirit is strong in our far north!
Anyone interested in indigenous art should pop in and view this exhibition of exemplary works.
Turner is hosting a couple of Q & A information sessions during the exhibition.
Independent art curator, researcher, project co-coordinator and author of Larrakitj: Kerry Stokes Collection will be discussing larrakitj and bark paintings as a contemporary art form at 3.00 pm, Saturday 22 April. Bookings essential at: annebrody.eventbrite.com.au.
Exhibition curator, Anna Kanaris will be joined by bush sculptor Janine McAullay Bott, for a discussion of her art practice and a weaving demonstration. Bookings essential at: janinemcaullaybott.eventbrite.com.au
Legends and Lore: Land and Sea runs at Turner Galleries until 13 May. Address: 470 William Street, Northbridge, WA.
Enquiries are welcome to Anna 0418 900 954 or firstname.lastname@example.org